Request for Qualifications: Albina Library Sculpture Series

Rendering of the art site, exterior southeast view, facing NE Russell Street

Rendering of the art site, exterior southeast view, facing NE Russell Street 

If you would prefer these materials in another language please contact the RACC project team for translation services.

Interpretation services are available, please email info@racc.org.

  • Servicio de interpretación disponible
  • Предоставляются услуги переводчика
  • Có dịch vụ thông
  • 提供口译服务

Important Dates

  • November 20, 2023 – RFQ launch
  • December 4, 2023 at 6:00pm PDT – Zoom Info Session, watch the recording here
  • January 15, 2024 – Applications due Monday, January 15, 2024 at 11:59pm PDT
  • December 2023-February 2024 – Panel review and artist selection including interviews
  • Spring 2024 – Community Engagement and Participatory Design
  • Summer/Fall 2024 – Fabrication
  • Spring 2025 – Artwork complete and installed

In partnership with Multnomah County Library (MCL), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) invites artists/artist teams living in Oregon and Washington to submit qualifications for a series of site-specific exterior artworks located along the new south side entry path and within the new interior courtyard at the soon-to-be renovated Albina Library. One artist/artist team will be selected to create a sequence of mid-scale 3-dimensional sculptural works which will greet library patrons, staff, and visitors as they approach and enter the new building. As part of the Library Capital Building Projects, MCL is renovating and expanding Albina Library which will include a 30,000 sq.ft. addition to the existing Carnegie structure. New features such as large community and meeting rooms, expanded study areas and a dedicated teen space will fill this highly anticipated community hub. Other upgrades include updated technology and internet as well as a new outdoor courtyard which will allow community members to relax and connect. Albina Library, along with the communities it serves, specifically Portland’s African American, Black and Indigenous communities, has a long history of displacement. Returning the library to its historic location on Knott Street is part of the MCL’s larger effort to provide relevant services to people who are experiencing disenfranchisement. The newly renovated and expanded library is in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood and sits just off of the west side of NE Martin Luther King Boulevard between NE Knott Street and NE Russell Street in inner northeast Portland in Oregon. Nearby are other beloved community landmarks including the Matt Dishman Community Center and Wonder Ballroom. The budget available for the commission comes from Multnomah County’s Percent for Art Program and is $125,000, all inclusive. Submissions are due by Monday, January 15, 2024 at 11:59pm PDT.

Art Opportunity

We are seeking an artist or artist team to create a series of site-specific exterior sculptural artworks for Albina Library. The sequence of mid-size sculptures will lead people along the new south side entry pathway, beginning at the newly developed library parking lot and initially ending at the main library entrance. The sculptures installed along the exterior of the building, of which we anticipate a minimum of three, will be prominently located. Greeting patrons and staff, the artworks will create a sense of arrival well before entering through the building doors. In addition, these sculptural works will be visible to pedestrian traffic along NE Russell Street contributing to the renewed streetscape of this revitalized and beloved community resource.

There is potential for the sculpture series to extend and/or culminate in the building’s newly constructed courtyard, an outdoor community space which is easily accessible from inside the library. We anticipate one additional artwork from the series being installed within the courtyard. Patrons, staff, guests and visitors will meander through the central body of the library to reach the courtyard via the main entrance, located on the south side of the site. The courtyard is positioned on the central east side of the library, acting as a connection point between several publicly accessible amenities. The relationship and creative dialogue between these spaces and the artwork should be considered. It is intended for this intimate outdoor oasis to be a place of calm, reflection and respite for patrons and staff alike.

The series of original sculptural artworks will be integrated with the landscape design of both the entry path and outdoor courtyard, evoking themes of growth, diversity and community. Due to the notable installation sites for the sequence of sculptures, views of the artworks from all angles should be considered. Similarly, pedestrian traffic from the parking lot and along the street will benefit from close interaction with the sculptures located on the exterior and interior of the building. We expect aspects of the exterior artwork to translate to scale so that the sculptures can also be enjoyed from a distance as people travel by car and public transportation along NE Russell Street.

Exact locations for the free-standing artworks are to be determined in conjunction with RACC and the project team depending on the final size, scale and material of the sculptures. In collaboration, the building project/construction team, selected artist(s) and RACC will work to provide foundations and a stub out for power for each sculpture, which can be used for lighting the artworks, if necessary and required. All other materials and construction are the responsibility of the artist with RACC’s support. The artist(s) will be responsible for delivering a series of completed artworks installed on site as a final deliverable. The artist(s) and RACC will coordinate installation with the project team, construction contractor and any third party vendors, where necessary.

The design team has stewarded an extensive series of engagement sessions with the local community over the last year or so and it is expected for the selected artist(s) to build upon that foundation. There is a deep desire for the diverse range of populations whom the library serves to be reflected and represented within the artwork. The sculpture series may represent multiple stories or weave together threads of a single narrative. The intention is to ignite imaginations and encourage contemplation. Both art installation sites include outdoor seating, meaning guests may wish to linger in these spaces. As the exterior sculptures will be the first pieces of public art visible as people arrive at the library, it is vital for these artworks to generate a sense of place, welcome and belonging that the surrounding communities, neighbors, MCL staff and visitors can feel aligned with and proud of.

MCL and RACC believe this project could be a professional development opportunity for an artist or artist team who are eager to expand their portfolio and practice, specifically in terms of fabrication and use/range of mediums, due to the support and technical assistance available from RACC and other project partners. Established artists, artists with experience working in sculpture at smaller scales and/or those who are exploring this medium are encouraged to apply.

Information Session

  • Monday December 4, 2023 at 6.00pm PDT on Zoom with Sophie from RACC joined by members of the Albina Library project team. Watch the recording here

We strongly encourage you to attend the info session, especially if you are a first-time applicant. The project team will share information about this opportunity and outline how to submit application materials. If you have questions about the Zoom
info session or need any accommodations in order to attend, please email project manager, Sophie, at shook@racc.org.

Artwork Goals and Qualities

The goal is for the many works of art at the library to be representative of, and informed by, the myriad of communities that live, work and play in Eliot/Boise, and other surrounding neighborhoods of north and northeast Portland, in particular under-represented and marginalized communities. Communities served by Albina Library should be reflected in the new works of art through innovative and original visioning, artistic expression and creative storytelling. There is a deep desire for the Sculpture Series to instill a sense of place and belonging, creating a warm, inviting and welcoming environment where imagination, interests and engagement can be inspired.

Through conversations during the community engagement process, led by LEVER Architecture and Noll & Tam Architects in collaboration with MCL, one important aspiration that was shared for the artwork at Albina Library was that it have a tangible sense of permanence. Given the history of displacement for Black and Indigenous community members in the neighborhood, and beyond, it was suggested that the selected artist(s) consider, in their creative process, the diverse local histories and experiences of those marginalized communities, acknowledging their richness and multiplicity. The community is desiring spaces which reflect their spirit and stories, where their cultures, values and histories can be expressed and celebrated.

In discussion with the community and MCL team members, we are anticipating artwork that invokes a sense of whimsy, wonder, magic and joy. Artwork that can honor the past while also creating space to explore greater possibilities for the future. It is also important to consider the longevity of the sculptures. How the artwork will evolve over time as the neighborhood shifts, ensuring that the artwork and community grow alongside one another, maintaining a bond, deepening their connection and continuing to be in dialogue together. Further collective visioning, through engagement with the community, will likely inspire even more creative suggestions. The Sculpture Series should take these design directives into consideration, complementing the overall building architecture, exterior and interior design palette and aligning with the overall goals to represent and reflect the local community in the space.

Literal interpretations or representations of these concepts, goals and qualities in the artwork is not expected. These ideas are shared as considerations, not limitations, and to offer context of the community feedback received so far.

Budget

The selected artist/artist team will receive $125,000 for this opportunity to create a series of mid-size, 3-dimensional, site-specific, exterior sculptural artworks. This fee is inclusive of all project expenses including artist fees, design development, materials, fabrication, installation, community engagement and communication/coordination with the design team, construction team and third-party contractors who may help to fabricate and install the artwork.

Community Engagement

Community engagement is a central component within all of the RACC and MCL Library Capital Building Projects, guided by these aligned project principles. As such, we are seeking an artist/artist team who welcomes and reflects the diverse communities that are served by Albina Library within their process and work. Genuine understanding and demonstration of community engagement practices in existing artistic practice, past work and/or other key areas of experience where skillsets may be transferable, such as teaching, mentorship, community organizing, care work and other non-typical/non-traditional examples of embedding community into process and practice, are highly desirable.

The broader community that will be served by the library have been invited to participate in the design process so far by contributing their experiences and ideas through open houses, tabling events, virtual meetings, leave-behind boards, and community conversations. An array of design priorities emerged during these engagements with community members and key stakeholders which should be considered by the artist(s) and more details can be found in the supplemental materials. Beyond that, feedback and other results from the community engagement process so far, including demographics, can be shared with the selected artist/artist team to ensure authentic understanding and representation of the local communities.

While there is no requirement for the artist/artist team to conduct community engagement sessions as part of this commission, if the artist(s) has a current practice around this work and would like to embed that into their process for the project it can be supported and would be encouraged. For example, prior to finalizing a design, the selected artist/artist team could plan and facilitate engagement sessions to meet with community stakeholders to gather further information and insight into the library, community and area. During that time, the artist(s) could welcome and encourage community participation within the design phase, seeking feedback, input and inspiration from key stakeholders to ensure the final artwork meets the intended goals as outlined above, specifically community representation. RACC and the project team is able to work with neighboring community partners to provide venues to host such community engagement events. Interpretation, translation and other access services can be made available, if needed, and coordinated through MCL and/or RACC, if enough time is
given in advance.

The artist(s) should expect that working or in-progress design materials and narratives may be requested for wider community communication updates and will be coordinated in conjunction with the project team.

About the Library Capital Building Project

As part of the Library Capital Building Projects, MCL is expanding Albina Library to provide additional space and an enjoyable experience for all through upgrades to the existing building. Located between NE Rodney Avenue and NE Martin
Luther King Boulevard on NE Knott Street in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood of north/northeast Portland, Oregon, the existing 3,500 square foot historic Carnegie library will be updated and expanded to 30,000 square feet. The revised site will include
an outdoor courtyard and new main entrance, on the south side of the building facing NE Russell Street, which creates the opportunity for a series of site-specific sculptural artworks. Click here to learn more and view the Albina Library fly-through.

The renovation and expansion of Albina Library is part of the first phase of the Library Capital Building Projects and will be one of the first to reopen, currently scheduled for Spring 2025.

Eligibility

This opportunity is open to artists/artist teams based in Oregon and Washington. If applying as a team, at least one member must meet the residence eligibility requirement. Those with significant current or past connections, or those with interest and ability to create meaningful connections, to Albina Library, the Boise-Eliot neighborhood and other surrounding neighborhoods and communities served by the library in north/northeast are preferred. Applicants who have an interest in and/or experience with community engagement processes, including social practice, which inform their approach and art practice are strongly encouraged to apply. Significant consideration will be given to artists who have experience working intergenerationally and with residents from historically marginalized and displaced communities to develop their artwork, in particular Black and Indigenous communities. Artists who have demonstrable lived experience and alignment with communities of color as well as immigrant and refugee communities will be prioritized.

MCL and RACC are committed to reflecting the cultural richness of our city by promoting opportunities for emerging and historically underrepresented artists. Artists/artist teams representing communities of color are strongly encouraged to apply. RACC is committed to engaging new communities of artists and expanding the range of artistic and cultural expression represented in the County’s public art collection.

The selected artist/artist team must be able to create, complete and deliver their artwork by Spring 2025.

Selection Process

At this time, the selection process will be entirely virtual. A selection panel composed of Multnomah County Library representatives, local artists, community members and north/northeast County residents, Library Building Project team members and Albina Library design team members will review artists’ submissions and choose more than one finalist to invite to interview for the commission. Overall, the purpose of the interview is to allow the artist(s) and panel to meet each other and engage in a mutually beneficial and informative conversation. It’s an opportunity for the artist(s) to better understand the context of the project and the intentions the selection panel has for the final art piece. Both parties are given the chance to ask questions and determine best alignment and artist selection for the project. After the interviews are completed, the selection panel will choose a final artist/artist team to award the public art opportunity to. The selected artist(s) will then be issued a Design Phase contract during which they may meet with the community and will create a proposal that includes a design for the Sculpture Series, a budget and a timeline. Following approval of the final design by the artist selection panel, the artist(s) will then enter into a Fabrication Contract with RACC.

Criteria for selecting semifinalists for interviews are (1) quality of past work as demonstrated in submitted images; (2) ability and interest in creating site-specific artwork; (3) how past artwork has fit one or more of the general goals described above, specifically community engagement and designing with stakeholder communities, through demonstrated processes and/or final design; (4) existing, interest in and/or ability to create connections to Albina Library, Boise-Eliot, other surrounding neighborhoods and communities served by the library.

Please note the selection panel reserves the right to select an artist who does not directly apply to this call, if appropriate. Likewise, the panel maintains the option to make no selection from submitted applications and to reopen the selection process or propose other methods of selection if no applicant is accepted.

How to Apply

All application materials must be submitted through the RACC Opportunity Portal, an online application system. Applicants
will need to create an account, or log into their existing account at https://racc.org/apply. If you are applying as a team,
please assign one person to apply and be the point of contact on behalf of the team.
Submissions due Monday, January 15, 2024 at 11.59pm PDT.

Application Materials

  • Artist bio/resume: Upload a PDF, no more than two pages, that outlines your creative activities, artistic accomplishments and experience with community engagement. If applying as a team, submit one PDF that includes a bio/resume for all team members.
  • Statement of interest:Applicants are invited to submit their responses to the prompts below either in a written statement* or in an audio or video statement**. Please outline the following:
    • Your interest in this project
      • Why this project, its focus, and themes are of interest to you
      • Why you would be a good match for the project
      • How do you foresee your work connecting to the mission and values of the project
    • Describe your capacity and/or experience to complete the scope of work
    • Explain why you value community engagement in your artistic process and share past examples of successfully incorporating community visions, values and voices into a project
      • What isyour approach to community engagement
      • How has community engagement impacted your process
      • How has community engagement informed your art-making practice and the end results of your work
    • If you are applying as a team, describe your individual roles on the team and how you anticipate working together
  • Up to 8 past work samples. These work samples are the primary way the quality of your work will be judged. Provide up to two images, no larger than 5MB each, for each work sample. For each image, please provide title, artist name, media, dimensions, year completed, budget and location. Conceptual information is desirable but not required.

*Written statement: 3000 characters or less
**Audio or video statement: Upload an audio/voice or video recording no longer than 2 minutes

Once you have started your application, you can save after each step and sign out. Your application will be saved as a draft that you can continue to work on, as needed. Please note that after you click “Submit,” your application is final and no further edits can be made.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us throughout the process.

Questions

We are here to support and assist you! If you have questions about the overall opportunity or the RACC application portal, would like to set up a time for a phone/video call or have any other needs for assistance please email project manager Sophie at shook@racc.org.

If you would like to be considered for this opportunity and don’t have a computer or online access, please feel free to contact RACC for support. Also, if you prefer these materials in another language you can contact the RACC project team for translation services.

We strongly encourage you to submit your application with enough time for any questions to be answered prior to when submissions are due as enquiries received towards the end of that period may not be responded to. We appreciate your understanding and consideration of our capacity.

Supplemental Materials

Albina Library RFQ Supplemental Materials