Ka'ila Farrell-Smith, Director of Rural and Tribal Communities
Ka’ila Farrell-Smith is a contemporary Klamath Modoc visual artist and activist based in Modoc Point, Oregon. The conceptual framework of her practice focuses on channeling research through a creative flow of experimentation and artistic playfulness rooted in Indigenous aesthetics and abstract formalism. Utilizing painting and traditional Indigenous art practices, her work explores space in-between the Indigenous and western paradigms. Ka’ila displays work in the form of paintings, activism, and self-curated installations. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and she has work in the permanent collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and Portland Art Museum. Farrell-Smith is a 2019-2021 Fields Artist Fellowship recipient through Oregon Humanities, a co-director, co-guide, Rural & Tribal Community Coordinator with Signal Fire and a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Aviva McClure, Director of Field Programs
Aviva is a Black-biracial visual artist, community activist, and educator with a focus on building intergenerational communities through the arts. Two decades of teaching and educational leadership informs their practice as they draw upon culturally relevant strategies that promote engagement and stewardship in the wilderness. Throughout local ventures in youth and family advocacy, founding programs, and developing partnerships; Aviva has also spearheaded programs abroad including justice initiatives in Cuba and Sub Saharan Africa. They are the recipient of an LGBTQAI2S+ advocacy award from Oregon Safe Schools Community Coalition, held residencies at Caldera and UAACC in Tanzania, and summitted Mt Kilimanjaro in 2019. Aviva provides experiential group facilitation and strategic support for racial justice movements through their artist/ activist collective called Our Turn, and have worked with organizations in both arts and educational settings. Out of a desire to promote excellent outcomes for historically marginalized populations, Aviva’s practice aims to be generative while removing barriers that inhibit connection to wild spaces.
Eden Redmond, Director of Operations
Eden is a multimedia artist and critical arts writer. Her writing can be found in Living Room Light Exchange (San Francisco), 60 Inch Center (Portland), Sightlines Journal (San Francisco), and Departures in Critical Qualitative Research (UC Press). She has exhibited artwork all along the I-5 corridor and in 2016 held a residency at Studio XX in Montreal with the collective members of Bad Girls Club. Her work focuses on online intimacy and community, the futility of the millennial economy, saccharine still lifes, the digital landfill, and virtual materiality.
Felipe/Flipper (he/him) – Living near to Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers in western PA. Born and raised in the margins of the Brazilian Rio Grande. Felipe is a feral spirit working with art education through experience and makes artwork about botany and wildlife.
Wendy Given is an artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. With a production of vivid, uncanny contemporary photography, sculpture and drawing, her practice stems from a profound interest guided by nature, myth and magic. Wendy’s visual craft conveys an intense yearning to honor and utilize our inherent awareness—to regain the unspoken understanding of the fact that we are all, and always will be (as humans), integral to and dependent on the natural world. Wendy studied fine art and was trained in painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture during her BFA undergraduate work at Atlanta College of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her MFA from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented by Whitespace Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia.
Amy is a co-founder of Signal Fire. She has been involved in conservation and public lands advocacy since 1998. She has worked with Bark, a watchdog group for Mt. Hood National Forest in various roles for over fifteen years. She has always believed in leading hikes, backpacking, and camping trips as one of the most effective way to educate people on the threats that face our remaining wildlands. In addition, she has developed and led trainings for activists and impacted communities to learn how to engage in public land decision-making. She is a writer and spends her spare time working on a wide range of publishing projects. She lives in Tucson, AZ. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Sye is a queer woodworker, writer, farmer, and forest steward currently living near Vernonia, OR. He studied creative writing and printmaking many years ago, and has facilitated creative writing workshops in Austin, Seattle, and Portland. He worked for many years as a youth and social worker, where he had the privilege of supporting others in their creative endeavors. Sye hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2008, and has been hiking and biking less and less well traveled routes ever since. He is currently working on several collaborative writing projects, milling windfall on the land he stewards, and building furniture. Sye is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Kimo grew up moving between the US, SE Asia, and the Middle East. He moved back to the US and attended college in Oregon, spending summer months working as a professional river guide in Utah and Arizona. His extensive travel and wilderness experience continues to be the foundation for his work. Kimo studied painting and drawing at the Oregon College of Art and Craft and environmental studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. He went on to study at the Rhode Island School of Design where he received an MFA in painting with honors in 2012. He has exhibited nationally at galleries and non-profit spaces including Danese/Corey Gallery and Gallery 532 Thomas Jaeckel in New York, NY, Projekt 722 in Brooklyn, NY, WAS Gallery in Washington DC, Disjecta in Portland, OR, and Chase Young in Boston, MA. Kimo currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Patricia Vázquez is an artist, educator and community worker originally from Mexico City and based in Portland OR. Her practice includes a range of media, from painting and murals to video and socially engaged art projects, and it is deeply informed by her experiences working in the immigrant rights and social justice movements both in content as well as in the methodologies she uses. Her work has been shown at the Portland Art Museum, the Reece Museum, the Autzen Gallery at Portland State University and Houston Art League, and also in more accessible spaces such as apartment complexes, community organizations and schools.
Blanca S. VillalobosBlanca is a queer proud daughter of immigrants with roots in the Sierra Madre Occidental of México (Cora, Nahuatl & Huichol). Her work as an interdisciplinary artist braids themes such as identity, folklore and healing modalities. She has been awarded residencies with Caldera Arts, Signal Fire, and Residency in the Garden. Her integration of community organizing & art making has been supported through grants and fellowships by the Precipice Fund and Epicenter. Villalobos’ work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and she enjoys performing in living rooms, gardens, and community spaces. She holds a BA in Art Practices & Spanish from Portland State University and a certificate from The Arctos School of Herbal & Botanical Studies. After an 8 year cycle in the Pacific Northwest, Villalobos now works between the Mojave and Sonoran deserts as an outdoor educator. She is currently based in her hometown of the San Gorgonio Pass in Southern California and enjoys making ceviche for loved ones.
Emilia Villegas is a Yoeme Yoreme musician, educator and culture worker based out of Tucson, AZ, where she created a sound theory concept and practice for early childhood and primary education called the Experimental Rhythm and Beats Studio. She built this concept by using recycled and found materials to provoke learning and discovery for children. She can be found most Friday nights performing at the legendary dance party called El Tambó, playing live percussion accompanying the DJs of Sonido Tambó.
Wide Open Studios
Anna Ialeggio, Faculty
Anna Ialeggio is a Vermont-raised, Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary artist, performer, and educator. Their recent work explores “shifting baselines syndrome” through mediated, fictional, simulated, and fantastical infrastructure in order to articulate and celebrate biodiversity in ecosystems and ideas. Though ultimately unsuccessful in their audition bid for a salaried role as Sabre-Toothed Tiger (or other charismatic prehistoric quadruped) at the Natural History Museum, they have a 2019 MFA from the University of CA, Irvine and are a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Daniela Molnar, Faculty
Daniela Naomi Molnar works in a range of forms including painting, art direction, design, site-specific intervention, a collaborative poetry/visual art project, writing, activism, and teaching. She grew up in the New York City area, a daughter of immigrants, and now lives in Portland, Oregon. Daniela is the Founding Program Director of the Art + Ecology program and a full-time Associate Professor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where she has been teaching undergraduate and graduate students about painting, drawing, environmental issues, visual culture, critical theory, and pedagogy since 2007.
Julie Perini, Faculty
Julie creates experimental and documentary videos/films, installations, and live events. Her work often explores the areas between fact and fiction, staged and improvised, personal and political. Julie has exhibited and screened internationally at such venues as the Centre Pompidou-Metz (France), Artists’ Television Access (San Francisco), Visible Evidence XX (Stockholm), The Horse Hospital (London), Cornell Cinema (Ithaca, NY), Microscope Gallery (New York City), among others. She has been awarded artist residencies at Yaddo, Signal Fire, and Djerassi, and received grants and fellowships in support of her work from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, The Regional Arts and Culture Council, and The Precipice Fund. Her writing has been published by A.K. Press, Incite! The Journal of Experimental Media and Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts & Culture. She holds an MFA from the University at Buffalo’s Department of Media Study and a BS from Cornell University. Perini is an Assistant Professor of Art at Portland State University.
Ryan Pierce, Director
Signal Fire Co-Founder Ryan Pierce coordinates our academic program Wide Open Studios. Ryan is a visual artist whose work draws on ecological theories to portray possible futures. He exhibits internationally and has received recognition from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Art in America, Art Papers, and The Oregonian. He has participated in numerous residencies, including Ucross, Caldera, Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, and Lademoen Kunstnerverksteder in Norway. Ryan has taught art at several colleges and universities and lectured as a visiting artist throughout the U.S. Ryan is a life-long backpacker, writer, and a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Kerri Rosenstein, Immersion Program Lead Faculty
Kerri Rosenstein is an interdisciplinary visual artist who works with diverse communities as an educator, mentor, and arts director. Her personal work inquires into the nature of things through subtle observation, often pertaining to place, being, and ecological values. She teaches in academic and alternative education and has guided with a wide range of field studies arts and outdoor organizations, empowering youth, adults, and underserved populations. Other programs she has worked with include Pacific Northwest College of Art, Eastern Oregon University, Caldera Arts, farm Art Space, Rocky Mountain School of Photography, The Design Cooperative, and Versal. She has an MFA in visual arts and BA in psychology, as well as certifications in facilitation, holistic health, permaculture design, and is a Wilderness First Responder. Kerri has co-instructed Wide Open Studios’ Immersion programs since 2014.
Board of Directors
Jessy has been involved with the arts her whole life in some capacity or another, whether as an arts patron, a performer, secret poet or collage-master extraordinaire. She obtained a Bachelors of Arts in vocal performance at Southern Oregon University and has performed in concerts, musicals, operas and new work premieres. Jessy has been a development professional for over nine years. She is currently the Development Director at Oregon Children’s Theatre and has previously work as the Annual Giving Manager at Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Donor Relations Manager at Portland Center Stage. She holds an Advanced Nonprofit Development Certificate from the Institute for Nonprofit Management and is involved with Willamette Valley Development Officers, Theatre Communications Group and Portland Emerging Arts Leaders. And of course, Jessy’s world wouldn’t be complete without her time spent in the woods pondering life by the river.
Artist Brenda Mallory is a longtime resident of Portland Oregon but she grew up in Oklahoma and is a member of the Cherokee Nation. She has a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art and a BA in Linguistics & English from UCLA. She has received grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, Ford Family Foundation, and Regional Arts & Culture Council. Awards include the Eiteljorg Museum Contemporary Native Art Fellowship and Native Arts and Culture Foundation Fellowship in Visual Art. Brenda has numerous had residencies including Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Crow’s Shadow, Glean, Signal Fire, Bullseye Glass, and Ucross. Mallory is primarily known for sculpture and installation, mining natural materials and mimicking organic processes with her generative installations. Texture and repeated rhythmic forms are instrumental to Mallory’s abstract compositions that deal with concepts of disruptions and repairs.
Based out of the Vesper Meadow Restoration Preserve in southern Oregon, Jeanine has devoted the last two decades to the study of natural ecosystems, and serving as an educator and community organizer. She draws upon a diverse background that includes managing an agroforestry research and demonstration site in upstate New York, conducting botany field studies in the greater Yellowstone region, guiding rock climbing in Colorado, and teaching outdoor science to youth and leading nature hikes in Oregon. She graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Applied Ecology, and from Southern Oregon University with an M.S. in Environmental Education.She is grateful for experiences in southern Oregon such as working as Education Program Lead for the Klamath Bird Observatory, creator of the Ashland Trail Trekkers summer camp, Outreach Director for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, and as a 2018 Artist-in-Resident of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. She is currently fulfilling her life-long dream as founder and Director of the Vesper Meadow Education Program.
Courtney Rae is an organizer and activist based in Portland, OR. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religion from Ithaca College and is an ongoing scholar of axiology, environmental ethics, and ontological philosophies. She has been working as an environmental advocate since 2011, working to empower and represent local community efforts to protect wild lands and wildlife, stop commercial destruction of public lands, and oppose fossil fuel development. She is actively involved in Portland’s social justice movement and is a contributor to the Eyes on Conservation podcast. Currently she works as the Community Organizer for Bark.