Costumes, Reverence, & Forms: A Portland/Philadelphia Mixer

Apr 06 // 2017 – Jun 03 // 2017

Costumes, Reverence, and Forms brings eight artists from two river cities together to show their work alongside each other – both in Portland and Philadelphia. It is the culmination of a year’s worth of curatorial exchange work involving two institutions and six curators – together we reviewed 180 artist’s websites, conducted 22 studio visits, and logged countless hours of communication and thought. This mixer broadened our knowledge of each other’s cities and artists and fostered new relationships and collaborations. However, the exhibition itself serves as a slice rather than a survey, a small fragment of the art scenes held within these two cities.

The eight artists selected for Costumes, Reverence, and Forms are creating work in a disparate manner, and yet, there are significant overlaps in their concerns and content, and in materials and modes. These areas of congruence become more refined and complex when considering smaller combinations of work; they allow us to develop linkages between the conditions of our society and culture. With over 40,000 permutations possible in grouping the works – the words: costumes, reverence, and forms are guiding principles in unlocking some potential meditations held within.

Artists include: Avantika Bawa, Marianne Dages, Beth Heinly, Anna Neighbor, Tabitha Nikolai, Jess Perlitz, Ralph Pugay and Kristen Neville Taylor.

The project was co-organized by Mack McFarland and Ashley Gibson, Director and Assistant Director of the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and a Vox Populi curatorial group consisting of Mark Stockton, Bree Pickering, Chad States, Matt Kalasky, Jay Muhlin, Julia Staples and Suzanne Seesman.

Artist Bios


Anna Neighbor was born in Mingo, Iowa in 1977 and now lives and works in Philadelphia. Her current work concerns the male figure, rest, work, building, seduction, and gravity.

Beth Heinly is one of the most prolific and diverse content producers in Philadelphia. On any give day you can find her organizing an un-sanctioned performance art festival, hosting a Buffy The Vampire Slayer themed discussion group, curating group art shows, archiving Philadelphia’s zine history, cosplaying to the max, or just camping with extreme style. She is the author of several comics and texts that range from the flamboyantly funny to the sickeningly sincere, from the horrific to the horny, from the existential to the cat related. In all that Beth does she is a master and chameleon of genres as she exposes (and celebrates) the ooey gooey crevices of our media saturated psychology. She is currently a member of the collective-run gallery Vox Populi. You can view more of her work at and on Instagram @berthheiny.

Kristen Neville Taylor is an artist living and working in Philadelphia where she graduated with an MFA in Glass from the Tyler School of Art. Taylor’s work has been shown at Bunker Hull, Little Berlin, and Vox Populi galleries in Philadelphia, Richard Stockton Art Gallery in New Jersey, and as a part of Expo Chicago. A sometimes curator, she has organized several exhibitions including Landscape Techne at Little Berlin, The Usable Earth at the Esther Klein Gallery, and most recently she co-curated Middle of Nowhere in the Pine Barrens. Taylor is the recipient of the Laurie Wagman Prize in Glass, the Jack Malis Scholarship, and a 2017 Vermont Studio Center Fellowship.

Marianne Dages is a Philadelphia based artist investigating the crossroads between image, language, and thought. Her work is held in public collections including the MOMA Library, Yale University Library, and SAIC Chicago. She is an artist member of NAPOLEON and a winner of the Fleisher Wind Challenge. Dages was a recent artist in residence at Herhusid in Iceland and Beisinghoff Printmaking Residency in Germany, and had a solo exhibition at Print Gallery Tokyo in 2015. She also teaches letterpress and bookbinding and publishes artist’s books under the name Huldra Press.


Avantika Bawa is an artist, curator and educator based in Portland, OR, and often in her hometown, New Delhi, India. Bawa has an MFA in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA in the same from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. She has participated in the Skowhegan, MacDowell Colony, Kochi Biennial Foundation, and Djerassi residencies among others. Noteworthy solo exhibits include shows at; Schneider Museum, Ashland, OR, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA, The Columbus Museum, GA; Saltworks Gallery and the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center, Atlanta, GA; Nature Morte and Gallery Maskara in India; Tilt Gallery & Project Space and Disjecta, Portland, OR. In April 2004 she was part of a team that launched Drain – Journal for Contemporary Art and Culture. In 2014 Avantika was appointed to the board of the Oregon Arts Commission. She is currently Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Washington State University, Vancouver, WA. Bawa’s practice emphasizes the intersections where drawing and sculpture, stasis and motion, and the functional and non-functional intermingle.

Tabitha Nikolai is an artist, writer, educator, and organizer who believes that artists have the responsibility to take care of one another. She believes in information systems as a rallying point for revolution. The sprawling sandboxes and collapsed time streams of digital platforms host potential for radical undoing, rethinking, and transmuting. Employing the structures and power of emergent media, text, and trend, Nikolai traces reverberating feedback loops from meatspace to the metaverse and back. Across occult systems, technological and magical, she endeavors to momentarily manifest the physical latent in the virtual, and virtualize the visceral. Residing in the vectors betwixt these points she thrives between: always ad-hoc, transdisciplinary, and transgender. She acknowledges the circumstances of acceleration: accelerating technology, and accelerating crisis. She acquiesces to the former, but not the latter. Tabitha Nikolai is a co-founder of Compliance Division and the gallery coordinator for the Portland State University School of Art + Design.

Jess Perlitz (b. Toronto, Canada) received an MFA from Tyler School of Art, BA from Bard College, and clown training from the Manitoulin Center for Creation and Performance. Exhibitions have included venues ranging from fields and playgrounds to Socrates Sculpture Park and galleries such as David Krut Projects and Cambridge Galleries. Awards have included the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Franconia Open Studio Fellowship, and the Canadian Sculpture Centre. Recent projects have been at De Fabriek in the Netherlands and Pacific Sky in Oregon. Presently her project, “Chorus”, is on view in Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary. Jess is currently an assistant professor and head of sculpture at Lewis & Clark College.

Ralph Pugay (b. 1983 in Cavite, Philippines) holds an MFA in Contemporary Art Practice from Portland State University and is a residency graduate of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Pugay’s honors include a Betty Bowen Award from the Seattle Art Museum, an Oregon Arts Commission Fellowship and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Award. Notable solo exhibitions were held at the Seattle Art Museum, Upfor, Vox Populi and FAB Gallery (Richmond, VA), among others. Group exhibitions featuring Pugay’s work include the 2015 Untitled. Miami Beach art fair; the Portland2014 Biennial, produced by Disjecta Contemporary Art Center; and the 2012 CoCA exhibition in Seattle, Washington. Formerly a visiting faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University, he was recently appointed the James DePriest Visiting Professor of Art at Portland State University and is an instructor at the Conceptual Oregon Performance School.

About Vox Populi
Founded in 1988, Vox Populi is a contemporary art space and artist collective that works to support the challenging and experimental work of under-represented artists with monthly exhibitions, gallery talks, performances, lectures, and related programming. For over 27 years, Vox Populi has played a unique role in the cultural life of Philadelphia by bringing our audience a diverse range of programming and providing a supportive environment in which artists can take risks and gain valuable professional experience.

With a rotating membership and a commitment to working collectively, Vox Populi is a vital forum for the development and exchange of artistic ideas. Vox Populi’s comprehensive exhibition schedule includes solo shows of both member and guest artists, a curated video lounge, annual guest-curated shows, exchanges with peer organizations and group shows that provide critical exposure for under-represented artists.

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Wangechi Mutu: The Hybrid Human

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Costumes, Reverence, & Forms: A Portland/Philadelphia Mixer

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