Center for Contemporary Art and Culture

ARROWHEAD Project at PNCA 511 Building - Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design

511 Building - Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design

June 2023 - Indefinitely

PNCA’s main campus building is a former federal post office designed by American architect, Lewis P. Hobart, which opened in 1919. Carved into the travertine of the Historic Hallway over eight of the doors on the ground floor are identical male “Chieftain” heads adorned in feathered headdress. They do not represent real people nor were the tribal people of this place a part of their making or compensated in any way. Conceptualized in 2018, PNCA Faculty and Lead Artist, Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos) and former Director/Curator for the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, Mack McFarland designed the ARROWHEAD project which would simultaneously decolonize and Indigenize the school. The concept was to commission eight Indigenous artists of the Columbia Bioregion to create architectural interventions into the building at these sites. Commissioned artists include: Lillian Pitt (Wasco/Warm Springs/Yakama), Greg Archuleta (Clackamas/Chinook/Santiam Kalapuya/Shasta), Greg Robinson (Chinook), Natalie Kirk (Warm Springs), Shirod Younker (Coquille/Miluk Coos),Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos), Anthony Hudson/Carla Rossi (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde/Siletz), and Toma Villa (Yakama).

All through the pandemic the artists, McFarland, and Oregon Community Foundation kept working together to realize the commissioned works. In 2022, the institutional side of the project progression was rekindled with the inclusion of Hannah Bakken Morris, Assistant Director for the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture. After months of careful planning and collaboration with OCF and FFF, all of the commissioned works will be in their permanent installation sites by the end of May 2023. The original carving sites have received a new permanent intervention by Sara Siestreem and her team of mentees, Anna Peterson (American, They, Them, BFA, 2021, PNCA), and the entire 2023 PNCA Print Media MFA graduating class; Marvin Parra Orozco (Mexican American), Indo Fulcher (Black/Creole), Maritza Galvan (Mexican American, They, She), Olive Ritson (American), Will Mairs (Quaker, American, nb). As well as additional assistance from Chris Chandler at Neu Haus Press.


"For a hundred years this subtle feature has been imprinting the fallacy of acceptability and elevation of colonial entitlement to Indigenous property to every person who enters the space. There is a certain safety to look at these historical instances because the authors are gone and the guilt is somehow further out there. It is more uncomfortable to look closer to home, to things we hold close, in our everyday lives. It is important to me to not only call out what I see as wrong but to try and do something to fix it with the momentum collectively created by illuminating the injustice. In this project we are trying to achieve that, to leave this place better than we found it.

We started this project before the social movement to dismantle racist monuments really gained footing here in this city but I consider this work connected to those ideas. We did this through formal channels, in collaboration with many entities. It took what felt like a long time and for the most part was pretty quiet. We were physically and legally safe. We compromised every step of the way, and by we, I mean all of the collaborators. What remains, I hope, is a prototype for the full circle solution to the demands of the ancestors and those living today to uphold our responsibility to the next generation. Maybe next time, it will not take so long."

- Sara Siestreem, Artistic Lead