“If we lived here” press release for The Art Gym exhibiton!

Paula Rebsom at The Art Gym

If We Lived Here will be shown in the small gallery at the Art Gym on the Marylhurst Campus in Lake Oswego, which is just south of Portland, OR from February 21st – April 9th. Showing in the larger exhibition space will be Melody Owen. Melody Owen’s exhibition in The Art Gym is also part of Portland 2010: A Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Opening reception February 21: 3-5


In If We Lived Here, Paula Rebsom continues her exploration of habitat and complex relationships among animals and people. During a 2007 residency at the Ucross Foundation in northeastern Wyoming, the artist placed numerous small house facades on a hillside filled with prairie dogs and their burrows. She then observed and photographed. The results were both intriguing and humorous.

For If We Lived Here, Rebsom, who lives in Portland, Oregon, but who was raised in western North Dakota, has devised a project that uses technology to tie one place to another. This time the project is as much about the migration of humans, loss of home, and its reclamation, as it is about animal habitat. In 1979, the Rebsom family moved from their farm during a brutal winter to nearby Dickinson. Over time, the original house, barns and outbuildings on the 1,300-acre property decayed, were vandalized and became home to birds, mice and various critters. The family destroyed the structures for liability reasons in February 2009.

Late last summer, the artist returned to North Dakota to begin work on her first permanent outdoor installation. She built a 16-foot high and 40-foot long “billboard-like replica” of her grandparents’ original homestead. In December, she went back to film and outfit the site with recording equipment. Those recordings will be used for presentation and projection in The Art Gym’s Gallery 2.

Once weather permits, two wireless web cameras will be installed on the property, and provide live feed to the gallery. The video will also be available for viewing 24/7 on the artist’s web site www.ifwelivedhere.com. Visitors to The Art Gym and to the website will have an opportunity to observe both constancy and change in a landscape very different from western Oregon — changes in weather as the seasons move from winter to spring; the occasional arrival and departure of birds, deer and cougar; the visits of family to check on equipment, walk the land and look for wildlife.

The artist writes:

In its simplest form If We Lived Here was built in an attempt to provide shelter for the birds that were displaced when their home was destroyed. In it’s most complex form it is a quiet and haunting, ghostlike reminder of what was, what is no longer, and what may never be. It holds memories far beyond my years and comprehension while at the same time providing a new presence of hope and possibilities for this rural landscape — the landscape my mom was born and raised on, the land where she and my father tried to make a living, a place that I dreamed as a child to call home, the land my sister and I will someday inherit.

About Paula Rebsom
Paula Rebsom received an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Oregon in 2006. She did her undergraduate work at Dickinson State University and post-baccalaureate in studio at the University of Minnesota. She has exhibited at Portland State University, Tilt Gallery, Portland Community College and the Portland Building installation space. Rebsom is a member of the Marylhurst University Department of Art & Interior Design.

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