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Virtual Residency: Malia Jensen

Jul 30, 2020 - Nov 7, 2020

Video streaming 24/7


The Portland Art Museum and NW Film Center is pleased to introduce an artist-in-residence series launching with an online presentation of Malia Jensen’s Nearer Nature: Worth Your Salt. As part of reimagining our work with artists in the COVID-19 era, we are exploring new ways of presenting works by contemporary visual, cinema, and new media artists. For the first edition, Jensen’s 6-hour video Worth Your Salt was available free of charge via the PAM/NWFC museum at home website.

Nearer Nature: Worth Your Salt began in response to an impulse that is all too familiar in the COVID-19 era: the artist missed her connection to nature. Interested in cultivating a project that would enable her to explore our complex relationships with the natural world, Jensen carved six sculptures from livestock salt licks. Beginning in February of 2019, she installed them in wild places across the state of Oregon to encourage animal interaction with them. Over the next year, eighteen motion-triggered cameras monitored the sculptures and the surrounding landscape, recording not only wildlife but also the dissolution of the carved salt sculptures and the changing seasons. Footage from each camera was collected monthly, necessitating over 120 “camera checks” and an intricate filing system. Jensen worked closely with a video editor and a small team of assistant editors, assembling the many thousands of 30-second clips into a six-hour video, compressing a total of 24 hours of surveillance footage into a grid format.

Jensen’s work gives us a window into the ordinary life of the natural world. Patterns emerge: changing light, growing antlers, pairings, births, behaviors shifting with the seasons. The mundane becomes beautiful, underscoring our interdependence with the ecosystem and the myriad ways we walk on shared ground.

Learn more about the Nearer Nature Project.

The Nearer Nature Project was created with support from the Creative Heights Initiative of the Oregon Community Foundation. Also available: a recording of a virtual studio visit with the artist on May 27, 2020 on the Museum’s YouTube Channel.