Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (MJ Do Good) 2018, (AIA) 2022
Amanda Leigh Evans is an artist, educator, and cultivator seeking a deeper understanding of our social and ecological interdependence. She makes clay objects, gardens, books, websites, videos and sculptures, and participates in collaborative systems. For five years, Evans lived and worked as an artist-in-residence in a 120-unit affordable housing apartment complex in East Portland, OR. There, in collaboration with her neighbors, she cultivated The Living School of Art, an intergenerational art collective and alternative art school that centered the many cultures and crafts-based creative practices held within the neighbor community. Since 2014, Evans has been a core collaborator at the King School Museum of Contemporary Art (KSMoCA), a contemporary art museum inside a public elementary school in NE Portland, OR.
Evans holds an MFA in Art and Social Practice from Portland State University and a Post Bac in Ceramics from Cal State Long Beach. She has presented work and publications at MOCA, the Portland Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. She is the recipient of Artplace America, the Arlene Schnitzer Visual Art Prize at PSU, the Metro Creative Placemaking Grant, and the Precipice Fund. Currently, Evans is a Visiting Assistant Professor teaching ceramics and social practice at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. She lives and works in the Pacific Northwest.
I work in a relationship-based practice that uses the form of open-ended experiments to emphasize the value of our public commons and collective knowledge. These works stem from my background as an educator, designer, craftsperson and community organizer, and from my belief that artmaking is a shared experience. I seek collaborative situations that are holistic and situationally embedded in the quotidian, an art practice that fits like a hand-thrown mug with hot tea into the space between art and everyday life. While my work takes many forms, each project is connected by an awareness of power forces that control public life and the potential of vernacular craft as a radical way to assert our agency against these systems.
Game projects like Open Call, a theatrical and borderline haphazard live reality gameshow, use play as a radical device to exaggerate the power dynamics in the gallery system. Exhibitions like “Objects For Digestion” inquire upon the value, function and public life of art objects. Conversations like Talk to Everyone and Everything about Race, ask serious, open-ended questions about how our bodies are implicated in the architecture of history. Facilitated projects like When I Die, a will-writing workshop where strangers plan their deaths together, take a morbid but intimate approach to our shared human experience.
Almost always, I work with other people in creative partnerships that value each person’s voice and experiences. Objects gain meaning through the relationships formed around them and the values we assign to them. Work with clay becomes a social practice when we emphasize the importance of collective craft models and their role in the development of civilization. Together with my collaborators, we work toward building an equitable public commons in a practice that finds meaning in everyday handmade objects, events, and experiences, which at their core are as old as humanity itself.