A Chat with RAW Coordinators Eli Coplan & Genevieve Ward

RAW coordinators ( from left to right: Eli Coplan, Jade Novarino, Chloe Truong-Jones, Genevieve Ward, Jacqueline Davis, & Katherine Rosenthal).

RAW coordinators ( from left to right: Eli Coplan, Jade Novarino, Chloe Truong-Jones, Genevieve Ward, Jacqueline Davis, & Katherine Rosenthal).

TG: How did you both get involved with RAW? What made you decide to take on the challenging position of curators? 

GW: I gravitated towards RAW as a freshman. I volunteered a little bit and was really into it. Then last year, I was in the press aspect of it. I was very immersed in the whole thing last year because I was in the planning group but I wanted to do it myself. I wanted to make my own RAW, in a way. Last year my concern was getting communities in Portland and outside Portland aware of it, whereas this year I’m much more concerned with what’s happening in the community. 

EC: I didn’t get involved on the same linear track. When I was a freshman, I sort of got swept up in it because that’s when I was really started to be into art. I started off as a science major. There was this really wonderful installation set up in Vollum Lounge that I spent 3 or 4 hours in every day. It was a wonderful space and I ended up getting close to the artist. It was a sound piece where they would return every few hours and keep adding on to their track. And so the next year since I sort of knew what to expect with RAW—as a freshman you aren’t really aware of it, which is something we’re looking to fix this year—I did a really involved project that went in Vollum Lounge [a bio-feedback machine using a lot of homemade equipment], it went over really well, and I got really immersed in everything that was going on. 

TG: So was that what made you decide to tackle being a curator? 

EC: Yeah totally. We just decided to apply. 

GW: (with a smile) But we were secretly applying together… 

EC: We definitely talked about it but I wasn’t sure if we were friends or competitors! 

GW: I always wanted to work with you. We wondered how we would work together. 

EC: We were a team, totally. 

GW: A secret team! 

TG: What do you think of being a curator? 

GW: I’ve learned more doing RAW than any single semester here. Or, different skills. 

EC: Yeah. Much more hands-on. 

GW: Also RAW has given much more freedom than — well, I haven’t been involved in that much event planning — but it seems like more than most. There is really a lot of independence given to us. 

EC: We realized that if we hadn’t done anything, no one would have known about it. RAW would have just not happened. 

GW: There is a lot of trust, which is a privilege. 

TG: Did you guys pick the theme? What’s the story behind it? 

GW: We picked it!… We are kind of behind on things because of the amount of time we spent on the theme, but it was worth it… We set out on a research project. We had interests we wanted to bring forward, and then we were like, let’s wait until we find [the right] candidate for it. 

EC: We spent a long time thinking about directions and interests. We found it, and then kept sitting on it for a little while. We ended up narrowing it down to two. 

TG: What was the other one? 

(Genevieve shakes her head at Eli) 

GW: I feel like that should be secret. It’s totally still present, which is why I feel like it should stay secret. 

TG: How will this year be different? What are your visions? 

GW: It [the GCC] is going to look more like a reading-room. It’s a space to gather. 

EC: But also we wanted to branch out from the GCCs, there are a lot of really wonderful spaces on campus. And the GCCs are filthy. 

GW: But it’ll be really pretty when we open it up. 

EC: It’ll be spread out. 

GW: I think RAW kind of fluxes and flows in a way. What we are doing to open up the campus is to have two artists whose work will be spread out, not just in one gallery that are both works of a series. But we are spreading out their serial form. 

EC: What we were thinking was that someone would be in a gallery and think, ‘Wait, have I seen this before? Or is that something new?’... 

GW: Yeah, [a focus] on memories and traces. 

EC: More of an emphasis on the invisible connecting links. 

TG: Do you guys consider yourselves to be daemon-like? 

EC: (shakes his head with a smile) No… 

GW: That’s for you to find out… 

TG: Anything else? 

GW: We’re putting out a pamphlet that will direct students and visitors around RAW but Jade Novarino is designing a really cool catalogue that is going to come out a month or so after the event. It’ll have essays from alumni, Reed students, artists, professors — and a large poster on the back to keep for posterity. It’ll be a way of continuing this research project… a way of delving into the Daemonic.