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Maryhill Museum announces woodblock project


April 24, 2019

Maryhill Museum announces woodblock project

Maryhill Museum of Art last Tuesday announced a collaborative printmaking project featuring 11 artists working with communities along a 220-mile stretch of the Columbia River from the Willamette River confluence to the Snake River confluence. The Exquisite Gorge Project will connect artists and communities to create a massive 66-foot steamrolled print.

The unique project takes inspiration from the Surrealist art practice known as exquisite corpse. In the most well-known exquisite corpse drawing game, participants took turns creating sections of a body on a piece of paper folded to hide each successive contribution. When unfolded, the whole body is revealed. In the case of The Exquisite Gorge Project, the Columbia River will become the “body” that unifies the collaboration between artists and communities, revealing a flowing 66-foot work that tells 10 conceptual stories of the Columbia River and its people.

Artists will work with community members from their assigned stretch of river and carve images on 4 x 6 foot wood panels. Each completed panel will then be connected end-to-end and printed using a steamroller. The big steamroller print event will take place on Saturday, August 24, 2019 on the grounds of Maryhill Museum of Art and the public is invited to participate.

The resulting print will be on view in Maryhilll’s M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Education Center from September 3 -25, 2019, with the possibility of other venues added in the future.

This project would not be possible without a range of partners along the Columbia River, who are helping facilitate the project and connecting artists with communities. The partners involved are: Maryhill Museum of Art, Lewis & Clark College, Arts in Education of the Gorge, The Dalles-Wasco County Library, The Gorge Veterans Museum, The Dalles Art Center, Goldendale-Fort Vancouver Library System, Whitman College, and White Salmon Arts Council. Information on how the public can connect with artists will be disseminated by each of the participating partners.

“The Columbia River weaves lives together in the most amazing ways,” says Louise Palermo, Curator of Education at Maryhill Museum of Art. “The Exquisite Gorge Project brings communities together with artists to share their experience of home in the form of a woodblock print, metaphorically as big as the river itself. We envision residents becoming involved by meeting with an artist in their community, helping carve a piece of their story into a woodblock, or being part of the steamroller print event at Maryhill Museum of Art on August 24.”

Similarly, Portland artist Roger Peet, who will create Section Seven of the print, underscores the importance of collaboration in The Exquisite Gorge Project.

“I value collaboration greatly, and it is a big part of what I do in my work. Incorporating the stories, ideas, and efforts of community members into work that is narrative and explicatory is the best way to ensure a broadly effective message,” says Peet. “The stories, symbols and characters that communities contribute to projects like this provide their depth.”

Participating artists, selected through a national call for artists, and respective sections of the Columbia River are as follows:

Greg Archuleta, The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Oregon

Section One (Willamette River Confluence to River Mile 110)

Michael Namkung/Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon

Section Two (River Mile 110 to McGowans Light)

Molly Gaston Johnson, Lake Cuomo, New Jersey

Section Three (McGowans Light to 13 Mile Point)

Jane Pagliarulo, Portland, Oregon

Section Four (13 Mile Point to Rowena)

Neal Harrington, Russellville, Arkansas

Section Five (Rowena to Browns Island)

Steven Muñoz, Washington, DC

Section Six (Browns Island to Miller Island)

Roger Peet, Portland, Oregon

Section Seven (Miller Island to John Day River)

Mike McGovern, Portland, Oregon

Section Eight (John Day River to Roosevelt)

Combat Paper/Drew F. Cameron

Section Nine (Roosevelt to Hat Rock)

Nicole Pietrantoni/Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Section Ten (Hat Rock to Snake River Confluence)

Ken Spiering, Valleyford, Washington


To date, sponsors of The Exquisite Gorge Project include Klickitat County, Department of Economic Development, Lodging Tax Award, with additional support provided by Vonda Chandler, Gunkel Orchards, Maryhill Winery, Jo Dean and Juris Sarins, and many of the museum’s partners on this project. For opportunities to support this project, contact Colleen Schafroth at 773-3733 x 23 or email


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