Spotlight: First Brick

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Molly Alloy, Allynn Carpenter, James Knowlton, and Eric Long of First Brick.

An interview with the founding members of First Brick. Highlighting how their curatorial project began, the inspiration and history behind how they started, the type of artists and work they showcase, and what they have coming up in the near future.

Who is involved in First Brick? 

First Brick is the curatorial collaboration of Molly Alloy, Allynn Carpenter, James Knowlton, and Eric Long. First Brick offers a platform for those individuals who resist assimilation within heteronormative white supremacist patriarchy. The first brick can be a brave act of dissent against the establishment or the first gesture towards a new foundation

When did First Brick start and what's the inspiration behind it?

First Brick began in the bathroom of the MFA studios at Pacific Northwest College of Art, following in the footsteps of Nat Turner Project and Stall Gallery in September of 2017. The bathroom is and has historically been a focal point within the queer community both under and above ground as a location of marginalization, sexualization, and celebration. We have stepped out of the bathroom and pursue pop-up exhibitions throughout Portland in order to extend our reach and build community outside of the traditional arts districts.

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What type of artists and work does First Brick highlight?

Generally speaking, we like to pair emerging and more seasoned artists with an emphasis on contemporary practice and work that provokes critical dynamic discussion. We are extremely medium versatile, our past shows have included performance art, soundscape, and we are interested in pairings such as sculpture with video, paintings with photographs, and beyond. We attempt to highlight underrepresented populations as it is our ultimate goal to take space and reinvigorate them with non-normative experiences. It is also our goal to show how queerness is diverse in practice and expression.

Why do you think it's important to create art spaces in your community?

We’ve learned that the power of queer artists comes not only from their physical art but also from the energy and community that surrounds them.

What are some of the challenges you've faced with starting your own curatorial project?

Of course, establishing a balance of energy towards this project with our own creative practice has been necessary. We struggle to find funding to pay artists in the ways in which we feel they deserve to be recognized. Also, with any collaboration even with and especially with close friends, we have constant communication and negotiation that takes work.

What have you learned from creating and having a curatorial project?

So many times we have seen the artists bring elements out of each other’s work through the process of developing the show that opens up the work more and we have learned that we want to support them in that and stay agile in our expectations for the show. Letting the process and the artists - who are so generous to give their time and labor and vision to our shows - take us somewhere unexpected always get the most joyful and most queer results.

Is there anything exciting you have coming up for First Brick that you can share with us?

We have a show featuring Jodie Cavalier and Alex Deets, opening Saturday, July 21st, 2018 from 6-8 PM at The Envelope. We’ve got a street fashion show in the works in collaboration with @walksignison and a possible music performance event with a phenomenal ASL interpreter.


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