BriAnna Rosen MFA Visual Studies Thesis 2016
A Freestyle Artist: Sociopolitical Art in Five Interventions
A series of interventions, produced between November 2015 and May 2016 at PNCA, investigate the relationship between art institutions and gentrification. The collection of works orient around the physical spaces the Pacific Northwest College of Art occupies: the Falcon Building at 321 NW Glisan and the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design at 511 NW Broadway. I hybridize the mass media technologies of video, magazines, social media, and printed matter with activist aesthetics and social action. Crafting both ephemeral experiences and physical publications, the artist acts as detective, journalist, tour guide, and informant interrogating the history of gentrification. Like a flashlight in the dark, Rosen endeavors to cross-examine cultural and economic capital by illuminating both hidden histories and current events.
The housing crisis in Portland has been among the top social justice issues for the city. As the city has become more desirable for its creative atmosphere, marginalized socioeconomic groups are compelled out of the urban core and replaced by suburbanized development. Students and artists play an integral role in this process as cultural assets both championed and subjugated by institutions. Constrained by financial resources, these two groups are coerced into serving as the conquistadors of urban renewal campaigns. The Portland Development Commission’s Broadway Framework Corridor Plan, which hinges upon PNCA’s new location in the North Park Blocks, is a prime example. Adding to the complexity of gentrification are the national problems of student debt coupled with an estranged educational system influenced by neoliberal economics.