Roz Crews inspires conversation in Hoffman Gallery

This collection of pages is a series of notes and illustrations Crews recorded during her time at the New College of Florida. Photo by Justin Howerton

This fall, Lewis & Clark welcomed Rozalyn Crews as the new artist in residence at LC’s Ronna & Eric Hoffman Gallery. Crews is a Portland based artist who is especially interested in socially engaged art. Her current project is an ongoing installation that is inherently interdisciplinary.In seeking to examine the various ways that different departments conduct their academic scholarships, Crews is interested in comparing and analyzing their respective research methods. This idea has formed the basis of her ongoing exhibition. 

 Associate Professor of Art and Studio Head of Sculpture Jess Perlitz reached out to Crews over the summer to see if she would be interested in the position for the upcoming semester. Perlitz wanted to create a space in the Hoffman Gallery that encourages community participation from other departments outside of art. 

Crews began progress on the exhibition by interviewing faculty members about their respective research methods, which took place over the summer and into the fall semester.

“One of the things that stood out from the interviews was the intimacy that professors had with their research,” Crews said. “I’m going to pick what I would like to present in collaboration with faculty. I’m going to illustrate some of the metaphors people used to describe their practice. And then I’m going to ask the faculty what they think. It’s very collaborative in that way.”

The project titled “When Research Can Be a Rainbow” seeks to include all members of the LC community and to draw people together through frequent events. Additionally, the gallery is intended to function as a social space for students throughout the semester. 

“The project is intended to be participatory and that just means that people can get involved in different ways,” Crews said. “We’re hosting a series of activities, workshops and lectures for students and faculty. Those things range from lectures on census data collection by Special Collections librarian E.J. Carter to short mini-lectures by students curated by (Program & Events Coordinator for the Hoffman Gallery) Andrea Lewis (’21) who is one of the gallery workers, to a drawing workshop and other things like that. People can also propose to use the space to talk about their own research.”

Additionally, Crews wants to challenge the conventional assumption that research is dry or boring by exploring the limitless ways that people conduct and interact with their own work. 

“I want people to really know that this space is for them to come and be involved in whatever ways they want,” Crews said. “The only limitation around participation is that the things are related to research somehow. The project is in some way about recategorizing what research is.” 

Lewis appreciated the agency that Crews has allowed her as a student-worker and expressed interest in Roz’s future work.

“I have really loved working with Roz,” Lewis said. “I really like that I have been able to pursue what I’m interested in within the Hoffman Gallery. I’m really excited to see how she is going to take the interviews and display them visually on the wall. She describes it as a portrait of research methods.” 

Associate Professor of Mathematics Paul Allen recently hosted office hours in the Hoffman Gallery as a participant in Crews’s project. Allen welcomed the emphasis that Crews has placed on the academic culture of LC and noted that this exhibition has lacked a similar precedent during his time here. 

“I think that it is important, and exciting, that Crews’ exhibit engages with the work that we (students and faculty) are doing here on campus,” Allen said via email. “I don’t remember a previous exhibit that examined so intimately the academic aspect of the LC community. Yet learning and scholarship are such an integral part of our mission and life here on campus. It is wonderful to have an artist exploring that part of the LC experience and identity.”

Students interested in hosting workshops or research presentations should contact Lewis. The exhibition will take place over the course of the semester. At its core, this project intends to develop a space that encourages community, creative freedom and self-discovery while challenging typical notions of how an art gallery should operate.

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