A Culture of Yes by Kristan Kennedy

A Culture of Yes by Kristen Kennedy

What the Field needs is to be lauded for its ethics, stamina, ingenuity, resistance and resilience. What the field needs is less suspicion about our sustainability, our community buy in, our motivations or our value and more support for the nebulous, immaterial, serious, experimental, influential, radical support of artists and audiences that we generate and propagate. The field needs to be matched yes for yes. The culture of the field needs to be adopted as a cultural imperative.

A culture of yes.

Yes to artists, yes to paying artists, yes to paying arts administrators, yes to ideas, yes to things that work against a system, yes to things that make us nervous or embarrassed or rattled. Yes to things that make us feel anything at all. Yes to transgression over regression. Yes to confusion over entertainment. Yes to empathy over apathy. Yes to dance as sculpture and sculpture as painting and social engagement as aesthetic engagement and publications as exhibition and internet aware awareness and performance art as performing arts and vice versa or twisty turny into infinity. Yes to the pristine gallery and yes to the garage gallery and absolutely yes to no gallery at all. Yes to the UN-STITUTION over the institution. Yes to spaces and projects that last for one night and yes to spaces and projects that last one hundred years. Yes to active networks, yes to sharing resources. Yes to funding those who have not yet proven themselves or those who can't or don't want to write a grant. Yes to operating budgets over funding initiatives. Yes to artists whom others say no, yes to asking an artist what they want to do next, yes to dampening curatorial ego, yes to trusting audiences to "engage" without pandering, yes to economizing curiosity, yes to keeping the names of small organizations and projects on the resume, yes to large institutions crediting the field for raising artists up to meet them, yes to acknowledgment that the field writes history but rejects the cannon. (…and to that end yes to revision of history over revisionist history). Yes to forgiveness over permission, yes to non-not profits and not-profits and new models and collaborative practice and things not yet named or understood. Yes to the field surviving on support and not on fumes.


Kennedy is an artist, curator, and educator. For the last decade, Kennedy has focused on commissioning new work by international emerging artists in the form of large-scale, site-specific installations and solo projects that exist at the borders of genres. Kennedy takes an expansive view of visual art; in addition to presenting the plastic arts, she organizes music, performance art, publications, and new media projects as part of PICA’s year-round programming and for the organization’s annual Time-Based Art Festival. Beyond her curatorial projects, Kennedy oversees the Precipice Fund, a grant for artist-run organizations and collaborative projects in Portland, Oregon, as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program. With the move to our new facility in 2012, Kennedy initiated PICA’s Resource Room Residency program through the organization’s library and archive.

Outside of PICA, Kennedy currently teaches Contemporary Art History at Portland State University, where she also organizes their MFA Visiting Artist Program and Lecture Series. She sits on the advisory board for the Headlands Center for the Arts and is the former Board President of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. Kennedy represents PICA as a member of several emerging consortiums including the Visual Art Network, a pilot project of the National Performance Network. She has served as a juror, panelist, and advisor to several foundations and granting organizations, including Creative Capital, The Regional Arts and Culture Council, and Southern Exposure’s Alternate Exposure Grants among others. She is represented by Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland, Oregon.