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Finn Builds a Galaxy by Finn Connaughton & Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr.

Grand Lobby & Mezzanine

“Finn Builds A Galaxy” is a collaboration between Finn Connaughton and Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr. When given an opportunity to exhibit work at the Chehalem Cultural Center Stevenson had inquired as to whether there were any local youth who would be excited to participate in a collaborative approach to the generation of work for the show. Connaughton’s name quickly emerged, already well known for his creative talents in the community at age 6 is a major accomplishment. Connaughton hailing from Carlton, Stevenson ventured to his family home to meet for the first time. Upon entry Stevenson noticed that the house’s walls were covered in Connaughton’s artwork. Nearly a professional already, all Connaughton needed was his first big break, and Stevenson was happy to help facilitate.

The two met over toys, past, and present artworks strewn about the floor as both felt an instant chemistry. With the nature and dimensions of the installation space in mind, a preexisting excitement about sending young minds into space, and newly aware of Connaughton’s penchant for creative production Stevenson pitched collaboration to create a solar system to hang in the mezzanine space. Connaughton, simultaneously reluctant and excited, agreed, and thus planning the mission to space began. 

Over a couple of weeks of engagement the two worked to build comets, a rocket ship, a flying space creature, and a planet out of wire, wood, paper, paint, and glue. Throwing caution to the wind, the two had their minds set on reaching space by October.

Connaughton and Stevenson are both dreamers, imaginators, and cosmonauts of the future. Together they explored the valuation of each of their own greatest ideas, producing a creative output that shows their individual and collective brilliance. Each of them hope viewers can see themselves in their work, and are inspired to give priority to their own deepest inner dreams and shoot for the stars!

Stevenson’s work relies heavily on the imagination, both theirs, and those with whom they collaborate. They primarily work with young people as the desired outcomes for their creative practice is enhanced confidence, self esteem, expressive range, and belief in one’s own imagination and capability to produce on a scale and magnitude usually reserved for those who fall under the categories of “professional” and “adult.” All while developing more traditional skills, such as drawing, painting, sculptural fabrication, reading, and writing, among others, depending on the young person.

These collaborations occur as part of a larger artist project called Imagination Academy (IA). IA is a project that interweaves programming into and between public schools to cultivate confidence and expand the perspective of young people’s minds in order to help close the opportunity gap primarily for youth of color facing poverty. However Stevenson recognizes that literally every young person can benefit from IA activities as they embolden formative development skills, abilities, and understanding the likes of which are commonly ignored, neglected, and or stifled in traditional pedagogies. For each IA experience, ideas and inspirations are gathered from participants which serves to inform a process for actualizing their dreams. Participants practice new and unfamiliar practical skills that simultaneously contribute to their self-stated goals.

Stevenson is currently in his third and final year in the Art and Social Practice Program at Portland State University and is actively looking for more young collaborators in which to build new visions of the past, present, and future.

Join us for the artist reception on October 4, 5-8pm


Earlier Event: September 17
Cosmos Marinas by Roberto Orán
Later Event: September 17
Roko-Mute City