New exhibition set to open at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU


April Bey

An art piece by April Bey set to be on display at the exhibition Weaving Data.

After its grand opening in November of 2019, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) at Portland State University (PSU) became the only art museum in Portland completely free to the general public. It is located in the heart of the PSU campus on 1855 SW Broadway. The first exhibition of 2023 is called Weaving Data and is set to open on Jan. 24. 

Weaving Data will host a collection of works from different artists utilizing textiles. The exhibition is centered around the history of computers, specifically the earliest forms of binary code that were inspired by weaving technologies introduced in the early 18th century. The works explore the connection between the worlds of weaving and computing. 

Anna Kienberger, the Education and Communications Coordinator for JSMA at PSU, emphasized how this exhibition challenges the way western culture has traditionally perceived the art of weaving.

“Weaving was a form of art that was deemed for the longest time in eurocentric art canon as craft and low art. The reason for that is the inherent white supremacy existing in the art realm has devalued the work of women and BIPOC communities that have originated different artistic techniques such as weaving,” said Keinberger. “This exhibition confronts these two different realms and shows how weaving is responsible for our digitized world and how art is responsible for our computers and software programming.”

April Bey is one of the featured artists in the exhibition. The people and places in her work are all set in a fictional planet called Atlantica. 

“I grew up on the Atlantic Ocean and as a kid, I was obsessed with Atlantis. I would always try to swim in those waters when I would go to a family island, because I just believed that it was like a portal to a better place,” said Bey.

Bey says the creation of Atlantica is focused on reimagining the ways we view the social concepts that exist on Earth. 

“I feel like my work is made from the premise of being an alien from another planet. And that planet looks down on Earth as if it’s […] the most primal thing,” Bey said “It’s hilarious to us that earthlings still have gender, or even a concept of sexual orientation. To us, it’s not something revolutionary to have a black president. It’s not something that is […] to be praised, or that goes down in history, because it’s just as normal as water or brushing your teeth.” 

Museum staff are encouraging students at Lincoln to visit the free museum and attend the variety of programs and events that are hosted year-round.

“We really do want the students like those at Lincoln High and […] the general public to come to the museum; we really want to be of service to you and help you make new connections in your daily life,” said Keinberger

Bey feels that it’s important to witness the works in person to get the full experience.

“It requires you to actually stand in front of it, to see the textures, but also to see the labor that goes into it,” said Bey.


Events/schedule at JSMA:

JSMA IG: @psu_museum_of_art

April Bey IG: @aprilbey_