Io Palmer’s Dazzling PDX Installation Expands Ways of Seeing and Being

Just in time for the start of the holidays, the PDX Rotating Art Program is honored to feature an impactful new site-specific installation by acclaimed Pullman, Washington-based artist Io Palmer. Aptly titled Cut Out, Palmer’s large-scale work will be on view overhead post-security within the Concourse E Extension at Portland International Airport through December of 2022.

Io Palmer was born on Hydra—a motorless Greek Island off the coast of the Peloponnese. The first seven years of her life were spent amongst the donkeys, the fishes, the clear blue Mediterranean Sea, and the jazz music her parents listened to.

Through depictions of cleaning products, garments, and various other industrial and domestic forms, Io Palmer’s artworks explore the complex issues of class, capitalism, and societal excess. Trained originally as a ceramicist, Palmer uses a variety of processes and materials including paper, wood, clay, and video.

Cut Out stems from my long-standing interest in fences, borders, and gates. Paying specific attention to how these objects conceptually represent inclusion, exclusion, and access. Images used for this project are a culmination of photographs taken throughout my travels in Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America. Using photographs as source material, I draw, cut, and paint imagery to create a collage of sorts. With Cut Out, a gated community in Las Vegas, NV collides with an iron gate in Ahmedabad, Gujarat India. The final piece reveals a form that is universal in our understanding while it also represents the painful history of class structure. As a Black woman in America, I often felt excluded from spaces deemed for others. Through my international travels, I have grown to understand that my personal experiences are in fact ubiquitous. Who remains in and who is cast out? How do these delineations affect one’s psyche and physical being? In what ways can we better understand and accept one another?

Portland International Airport (PDX) is a perfect stage to have this dynamic site-specific installation on view. Portland is a city that has historically been a place associated with travel, exchange, and movement from one place to another. Portland is also a city that has recently experienced the complex and problematic issues associated with extreme gentrification. My artwork, however, is also about a hopeful and positive experience. The pearlescent glittery copper forms represent the sunset sky and new horizons. Cut Out is a buoyant expression and a reminder that our society can re-imagine and redefine more expanded ways of being in the world.

Cut Out, 2020 is approximately 180 inches H x 300 inches W and produced from paper, paint, glitter, and metal rods.

Io Palmer’s work has been featured in several national and international exhibitions including the Dakar-International Arts Biennial, Dakar, Senegal; Working History, Reed College, Portland, OR and The Button Show, Rush Gallery, NYC, NY.

Select solo exhibitions at York College, CUNY, Jamaica, NY; Deluge Contemporary, Victoria, BC; University of Montevallo, Montevallo, AL; Sheehan Gallery, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA and most recently, Desired Interruptions an installation hanging at the Boise Art Museum, in Boise Idaho until February 2021. She has participated in several artist residencies including The Sanskriti Foundation, New Delhi, India; The Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM, and the Ucross Foundation, Clermont, Wyoming. Io received a Fulbright Nehru Professional Excellence Grant to India, 2019.

Io Palmer holds an MFA from the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, and a BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

Instagram: @io.palmer
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