Introducing Melia Donovan: I Don't Take Vacations - I Just Move To Interesting Places
Though art making can be considered an interior and self-centered endeavor, I
have always enjoyed countering that aspect of production with activities that
enable a dialogue outside of the studio, in the larger community, to flourish.
For that reason, I am very excited to join PORT as one of the new Announcements and News
writers. I am a recent citizen of Oregon and if what I've read and experienced is true, the only native in the state is my friend Ramona in Hood
River. The massive influx of people from all over the world, really, necessitates
a forum for navigating, organizing and rallying the arts community. PORT has certainly
permitted me access to dialogue and information in a scant amount of time - I
moved into my house in January of this year. I can only hope to help do more of
Here's a little background about myself. My BA in Art (Photography) is from
San Francisco State University. While there, I worked as a custom printer at a
few, now defunct, photo labs. At the time, the tides were changing in San Francisco
- the computer geeks were descending - so, in 1998, I found the tunnel that
lead from the Mission District to Williamsburg and moved to New York to go to
graduate school at Hunter College.
While at Hunter, I served as the Master of Fine Arts Student Organization Co-President
with the lovely Lynn Sullivan. We helped to start the silent auction that year
which enabled us to invite more artists and critics for lectures and studio visits
and to purchase more equipment for the studio building. I graduated with an MFA
in Combined Media (Photography + Sculpture) in 2001, birthed one child and moved
immediately to Chicago.
Soon after the move, I started the adjunct life, teaching photography at a couple
of colleges, which allowed me to produce in the studio and parent. A union in
real estate with another couple that my husband and I knew from SFSU led to our
opening of The Guestroom Project. Utilizing an empty apartment in our building
that operated as guest quarters, we partnered artist/curators to collaborate on
shows. Basically, two artists, previously unknown to each other, were invited
to find a link in their work or practice. Out of that dialogue, they then were
required to look outside of their respective studios and find artists working
within that particular vernacular - no self-curation on the part of the artists
or inclusion of our work was allowed. This was purely an intellectual exercise
to facilitate a connection between people and ideas from disparate artistic communities
in Chicago. In spite of the intellectual profit borne out of that work the squelching
summers and frigid winters took their toll. We headed for the rain.
So, now I find myself in Portland - a city I've wanted to live in since I saw
the Apples in Stereo here in 1996. I'm excited by what I've read, seen and heard.
So now it can be set aside who I am and the work of participating in the rich
dialogue about art, context and Portland's future can continue.