Art Market

Oregon’s Yale Union art center will transfer its land and building to a Native-led nonprofit.

Daria Simone Harper
Jul 22, 2020 5:27PM, via Seattle Times

The Yale Union Laundry Building. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Portland, Oregon-based arts organization Yale Union announced last week that it will transfer ownership of its land and building to the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF), a Native-led nonprofit that collaborates with Indigenous artists to foster and support Native culture in the U.S. Yale Union has operated out of its historic brick building since its founding in 2008 (the building was originally constructed in 1908 as a commercial laundry service). The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places a year before it was acquired by Yale Union.

NACF president and CEO Lulani Arquette said in a statement quoted by the Seattle Times:

It’s liberating and encouraging to witness this kind of support for First Peoples of this country. The potential for local community and national partnerships around shared interests through Indigenous arts and cultures is wide open.

Since opening to the public in 2010, Yale Union has held exhibitions, offered studio space, book publishing, and served as a space for community gatherings. The property, which will be called the Center for Native Arts and Cultures, will function as NACF’s national headquarters. It will exhibit the work of Indigenous artists, and host workshops and seminars that tackle issues like antiracism, decolonization, and environmental justice.

The land transfer was spurred, in part, by discussions beginning in 2018 between Yale Union’s former executive director, Yoko Ott and current board president Flint Jamison. According to Artforum, Ott and Jamison were in dialogue regarding the role of art institutions in “restorative social change.”

Further Reading: In Los Angeles, a New Art Space Prioritizes Community Support and Activism

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Daria Simone Harper
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019