Place Biographies

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,  Portland OR, 2021
In collaboration with Laura Glazer

Place Biographies is a public history project, created in collaboration with Laura Glazer. Through a series of ongoing workshops, members of the public wrote historical markers for places of their own personal meaning. The workshop led participants through a series of instructions, prompting reflection on the many aspects that construct our understanding of a place. Using this material, participants wrote historical markers for their personal places, investigating the connections and incongruencies between fact,feeling, and memory, and what aspects of our personal histories to keep private or make public.

Place Biographies explores the conventions of language used to create history, and invites the public to bring their personal expertise to become active contributors to writing history.

For the 2021 exhibition, Viscous Time at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, we created a gallery installation that included a desk, sheets of paper, pencils, erasers, and instructions for writing a historical marker for a place of personal meaning. It provided an opportunity for museum guests to create their own placards, and hang them on the gallery wall to share biographies of their own homes. The workstation was offered in conjunction with an online public workshop at Assembly 2021, A Co-Authored Social Practice Conference, hosted by Portland State University’s Art+Social Practice program.

Some of these placards were physically made; I designed and worked with a sign shop to fabricate individual placards for long-term installation on homes. In one instance, I was able to join a project participant—Roxy Razbow—to install her placard on her childhood home.

Details from installation at JSMA 

Installation at Roxy’s childhood home