For its last exhibition in the Oregon Brass Works building, RECESS is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Vancouver-based artist Heidi Nagtegaal accompanied by an illustrated talk by artists Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen and a short set by Brian Mumford of Dragging an Ox Through Water.
Heidi Nagtegaal is engaging in the ritual of making in order to pay off her student loans. She owes $20,000 to the National Student Loans Centre (NLSC) and is making 1,000 tee shirts with salvaged and donated shirts, inks, and screens. After all the tee shirts are sold at $20, she will have paid off her student loans in their entirety.
Most of us have debt; it is the new normal. It’s also not the greatest. For Heidi, Paying Off My Student Loans, is about using what she has around her, the situation she is in, with the skills and resources she has available to her, to give herself a future that she wants to live in. Mainly, one without student loans. In this way, she is taking control of her own future. Paying Off My Student Loans is the continuation of an investigation into grassroots, alternative solutions to the situations that are in her life.
Her process serves as an optimistic model for all of us in light of a precarious future, a future that appears limited by mysterious forces beyond our control. There is something we can do, especially if we do it together. This will be the last exhibition organized by RECESS in our current location in the Oregon Brass Works building due to the owner’s refusal to renew our lease in this location. More information regarding our plans will be available soon on RECESS’ website. Meanwhile, we’ll be hosting an event at Holocene on May 27th to raise funds towards a new location. Unfortunately, the space is plagued by the same precarity that Nagtegaal inverts and takes hold of in Paying Off My Student Loans.
There has been a lot of talk about how debt is used to contract and limit the dreams of the middle class, but not a lot of talk about how debt is continuously used as an enforcement mechanism to keep the poorest in a cycle of poverty and incarcerated people locked in penitentiaries.
In this short illustrated talk, Anna Gray & Ryan Wilson Paulsen will be looking beyond student, housing, and medical debt to address aspects of the debt economy that target the poor, the incarcerated, and the working class.