Grants offered to artists responding to Black Lives Matter

A Black artist working on a sculpture

Oregon artists will have the opportunity to share their creative visions of the Black Lives Matter movement through a new grant program established by Jordan Schnitzer in partnership with the University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center.

The museum’s Artist Grant Program in Response to Black Lives Matter will distribute $2,500 grants to 20 artists across Oregon, excluding Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia and Washington counties. Artists will be asked to use their voices, experiences and artistic expression to reflect on social justice efforts in response to systemic racism.

Jordan Schnitzer“I have often said artists are chroniclers of our time. We all feel anguish about the death of George Floyd and many others at the hands of racial oppression,” said Schnitzer, president of The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. “We, more than ever, need artists to help us understand this issue and help us heal.”

The call for grant applications is part of a broader $150,000 effort funded by Schnitzer that funds a total of 60 grants across two states. Jordan Schnitzer museums of art at Washington State University and Portland State University will also administer grant programs. Oregon artists from Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia and Washington counties will apply to the PSU program.

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the UO will work in partnership with the Lyllye-Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center to determine grant recipients in Oregon, excluding Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia and Washington counties, responding to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Artist Grant Program is funded through a generous donation of $50,000 from The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation.

“We believe museums and cultural centers have a responsibility to educate and teach from an anti-racist and equity lens through our cultural and education programs, and to amplify the voices of artists engaging in this critical work,” said John Weber, the UO museum’s executive director. “I want to thank Jordan for establishing this program. When words are not enough, art can move people to change. Art can be a powerful tool for social justice. We need to do more, we can and we must. The museum stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.”

Artists residing in Oregon, excluding Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia and Washington counties, are encouraged to submit proposals for new work or projects or recently created work directly responding to the current Black Lives Matter movement; responding to marginalized communities; experiences with systemic racism and inequality; and artists whose work thematically connects to those experiences. Artists working in all mediums are invited to apply.

Interested artists should submit their applications no later than Sept. 30. Submission instructions are on the art museum’s website.

Artist submissions will be reviewed by a panel that will include Weber; Aris Hall, coordinator of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center; Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Phyllis and Andrew Berwick Dean of the School of Music and Dance; Jamar Bean, program director at the Multicultural Center; and Jovencio de la Paz, an assistant professor in the Department of Art. Grantees will be notified by Oct. 31.

“This grant provided by Jordan Schnitzer will allow for artists to display the pain and hurt that is felt within the Black community and mark a time in history that will forever remind the UO and Eugene-Springfield community of the importance to why Black Lives Matter,” Hall said. “Lyllye Reynolds-Parker embodies what activism in our community is, and the works of art will be an ongoing display of activism for the Black community.”

The exhibition history at the UO’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art includes Carrie Mae Weems’ “The Usual Suspects” and a companion exhibition to the university’s common reading of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me.” The latter featured contemporary artists Mark Bradford, Theaster Gates, Mildred Howard, Chris Johnson, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Hank Willis Thomas, Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley.

In 2014, the museum exhibited “Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power from the Collections of Jordan Schnitzer and His Family Foundation.” Other exhibitions from Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation collections featuring artists of color include “Mirror, Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar,” “Beyond Mammy, Jezebel & Sapphire: Reclaiming Images of Black Women,” “Second Look, Twice; Social Space,” and “Witness: Themes of Social Justice in Contemporary Printmaking and Photography.”

The museum’s Artist Grant Program in response to Black Lives Matter is made possible by the generous donation from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, which is committed to fostering greater equity, inclusion and diversity in the Northwest.

By Debbie Williamson Smith, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art