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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications

Exhibition by Portland artist damali ayo inaugurates Case Works, a new program at Reed College featuring regional artists

"Big-Eyed Street Smarts: How I sometimes find myself & Living Flag" is part of Reed's Black History Month celebration, featuring a variety of speakers and artists

Portland, OR (January 16, 2004) - An installation by acclaimed Portland artist damali ayo launches a new arts program at Reed College, Case Works, featuring small-scale exhibitions by regional artists. Big-Eyed Street Smarts: How I sometimes find myself & Living Flag , on view from February 1 through March 14, 2004 on the main floor of the Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library, is also part of Reed College's ongoing celebration of Black History Month.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Reed events site or call the Reed events line at 503/777-7755.

The damali ayo installation is on view during regular Library hours. The Library is open Monday-Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.; Fridays from 8 a.m. to midnight; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to midnight; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Artist's Talk and Exhibition Reception
A special talk by damali ayo at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3, is followed by a reception at 8 p.m. in the Reed student union, also marking the close of the Whitfield Lovell exhibition at the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Gallery. Refreshments will be served and music provided by the Reed Jazz Quintet. The artist's talk and the reception are free and open to the public.  

Case Works
damali ayo's exhibition is a collaboration between the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery and Reed Arts Week (RAW), and inaugurates the Cooley Art Gallery's new Case Works series. Case Works presents small-scale exhibitions by regional artists in the library display cases donated by John and Betty Gray. Case Work's inaugural exhibition is dedicated to Betty Gray's many achievements on behalf of the arts at Reed. For more information visit .

damali ayo
ayo's works explore identity, race, and social relations. How I sometimes find myself consists of a sculptural series based on the Golliwog, a pejorative racial caricature . ayo's installation also includes images from her Living Flag series, in which the artist panhandles for reparations throughout the United States.

ayo is best known for her web-art-performance "," which explored the commodification of race and the relationships between blacks and whites in society. The site was featured in, the Village Voice , Washington Post , Chicago Tribune and Harper's Magazine , and on the BBC, ABC Australia and NPR.

A resident of Portland since 1997, ayo has exhibited her work in Portland, Seattle and New York. The Oregonian recently named her "One of 12 Emerging Arts Players You Don't Know But Should."

In recent statement, ayo described her work, saying "I create dialogue-driven conceptual art that engages contemporary social issues through the media of assemblage and installation. I reconceptualize everyday objects and cultural icons to create a shift in a viewer's perspective on our world and their position within it."

She added that she is also a junk artist. "In our capitalist-driven society objects are given meaning by their purchasability. Our social/political issues are junk, things we once bought (or bought into) and keep around because we are accustomed to their presence. Sexism, racism, class stratification, objectification, are all social junk. And like the other junk I use in my work, I seek to reconceptualize these items and help us to examine their continued function in our lives.

"I believe art should make people think and feel. I want to leave my audience pondering discomfort, confusion, anger, joy, sadness, emotions of all kinds. I am an honest manipulator, presenting contradictions and demanding response."

Black History Month
Reed College honors Black History Month in February with a variety of speakers and artists, including Lani Guinier, Harvard law professor, author, and activist on February 9; Elijah Anderson, professor of social sciences and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on the sociology of blacks in America on February 18; Lucille Clifton, winner of the National Book Award on February 25; the special exhibition Whitfield Lovell: Whispers from the Walls at the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery from January 28 through March 3, 2004; and the damali ayo exhibition.

All Black History Month events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call the Reed events line at 503/777-7755.

For images or further press material, please contact Beth Sorensen, Office of Communications, at 503/777-7574 or at .

Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is an undergraduate institution of the liberal arts and sciences dedicated to sustaining the highest intellectual standards in the country. With an enrollment of about 1,360 students, Reed ranks third in the undergraduate origins of Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915). For more information, please visit .

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