Artists on Campus: Julie Perini

promotional image for The Gentleman Bank Robber courtesy of Julie Perini

Julie Perini is a tenured professor in the art department focusing on art practices, video, and time-based media. Following the completion of her MFA at University of Buffalo in New York, Perini moved to Portland. She spent a few years mom,l;p[plafd[l[adbbfvdx as an adjunct professor at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Pacific Northwest College of Art in NW Portland, and the now defunct Art Institute of Portland. “I was looking for full-time tenure track gigs while doing all the adjunct work,” Perini said. She left the area for a one-year contract at a college in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, but returned and taught at Portland State in a contract position for five years before being offered tenure-track status. “I finally got this dream job in Portland,” Perini says. “It’s great. It’s better than I ever imagined.”

PSU grants tenured faculty permission to take a sabbatical every seven years. After seven years of work with tenure status, Perini took sabbatical for the 2017–2018 academic year. She began this period with a short artist residency in Italy that permitted her to attend the arts festivals Documenta in Kassel, Germany, the Venice Biennale, and the Munster Sculpture Project.

She came back to Portland after what she described as “a month of inspiration” to finish post-production work on her film The Gentleman Bank Robber before its premiere screening at the Northwest Filmmakers Festival in November 2017. The documentary profiles self-described “butch dyke feminist, anti-imperialist, and anti-authoritarian” rita bo brown, who now lives in Oakland, California. (Note: brown does not capitalize her name.)

Click here for a preview clip from the film.

“[The] sabbatical was packed in the beginning, but after November it kind of opened up,” Perini says. Prior to the sabbatical, she had intended to begin another feature-length film project, but decided instead to use the time to experiment, study, and reflect in a way that “hadn’t been possible since graduate school.”

Although less frenetic than the first several weeks of her sabbatical, she rounded out the rest of the year with residencies in New Mexico and Eastern Oregon as well as spending a week in Poughkeepsie, New York filming and documenting her family history and childhood home. “And throughout this, I was hopping off to conferences and screenings,” Perini said.

As a guide with Portland-based group Signal Fire, Perini leads groups of artists from many disciplines on wilderness excursions ranging in length from one to three weeks. During May of her sabbatical year, Perini earned her Wilderness First Responder certification in order to lead trips without a co-leader.

Over spring break, she and fellow Signal Fire guide Ryan Pierce will lead a week-long trip in the area around Phoenix, Arizona to examine the impacts of climate change and urban and suburban sprawl. The intent is to investigate “how artists can influence responsible city planning.”

Perini maintains a practice regimen for shooting and editing video. “I shoot video every day using consumer cameras,” she says of the practice to which she has adhered for many years. Many of these short works, called minute movies “because they’re also minute—it’s kind of a pun,” are not intended for commercial release or distribution. In our interview, Perini showed me a minute movie filmed at the 24-hour Original Hotcake House on SE Powell.  “I keep some record of the day. A lot of them are bad, and that’s ok. There may be something else to learn. It’s just a way to make sure I’m shooting.”

Perini is teaching two courses this term: ART 257 Introduction to Video Art and ART 399 Special Studies: Video Installation. The latter course is a new one that she says covers “using space with video” in combining sculpture or other physical implements with projection or video. She will teach ART 257 Introduction to Video Art again in the spring, as she does each term, in addition to ART 457/557 Low-Tech Cinema and ART 336 BFA: Research and Proposal.

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