The city of Portland is founded and named after the Maine hometown of Francis W. Pettygrove, decided in a coin toss with fellow founder Asa Lovejoy. Its early reputation is as a gritty port city, a trade hub and home to dangerous organized crime and racketeering operations. By the turn of the century Portland is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
The Arts and Crafts movement develops in England, largely based on ideas put forth by architect Augustus Pugin, writer John Ruskin, and designer William Morris, who linked mindless factory drudgery to the social and moral degradation of their nation. The movement celebrates traditional craftsmanship in the context of social reform, reacting to the negative consequences of England’s intense industrialization. The movement spreads rapidly throughout Europe and reaches America by the 1890s.
The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, first major West Coast event of its kind, gives rough-and-tumble Portland a chance to showcase its growth to audiences across the nation. Sixteen states contribute exhibits, with Washington, Oregon, and California all building major structures. The Exposition earns accolades for its displays of Western architecture, industry, and craft and stimulates interest in the Arts and Crafts movement and its developing local communities.
Julia Hoffman, a resident of Portland with deep ties to the East Coast, attends an Arts and Crafts exhibition in Boston and is determined to bring it home. In correspondence with the Portland Art Museum’s curator, Henrietta Failing, Hoffman arranges for transport of works from Boston to Portland and builds an exhibition full of Arts and Crafts luminaries. Work by local artisans John Nelson Wisner (Oregon City) and Florence Knowlton are also included, giving Portland’s scene a major boost.
During the same trip to Boston, Julia attends meetings of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts and excitedly writes to Henrietta of a movement to create a national society as soon as ten groups sign on. By October, Julia has organized the inaugural meeting of the Portland Arts and Crafts Society with 85 participating members and become one of its directors.
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) grants accreditation and OSAC becomes an independent, accredited crafts school.
OSAC holds commencement ceremonies for its first class of Certificate in Craft awardees.
OSAC becomes a degree-granting college with the inauguration of its Bachelor of Fine Arts in Crafts (BFA) degree.
OSAC expands onto new property at the intersection of Barnes and Leahy, which includes an historic schoolhouse, the original farmhouse, and the donor’s family home, an Arts and Crafts bungalow.
To reflect the institution’s identity as a degree-granting college, the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts changes its name to Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC).
The American Craft Council awards OCAC the ACC Award of Distinction, recognizing an organization, institution, corporation, or individual who has made significant contributions to the field of craft with a minimum of 25 years of service.
The inaugural Art on the Hill children’s art program begins by bringing artists into schools to find enthusiastic new pupils. By the next year small camps are held at OCAC in outdoor tents sprinkled throughout the orchard and campus under the new name Art Adventures - a program that continues in the same fashion today.
OCAC alumna Apolonia Susana Santos (Tygh, Umpqua, Yakama Nation), artist Pat Courtney Gold (Wasco), the Museum at Warm Springs and Kah-Nee-Ta, and OCAC join forces to create the A. Susana Santos Journeys in Creativity program to further the study and perpetuation of contemporary and traditional Native American art and craft for Native teenagers and their families. Native American artists and educators from throughout the region including Denise Wallace, Larry McNeil, Erica Lord, Ka'ila Farrell-Smith, Marie Watt, John Hudson, Ramon Murillo, Joe Seymour, Earl Davis, and Kenny Waltham join program manager Shirod Younker (Coquille) on campus each summer to mentor Native American and Pacific Islander youth attending the only pre-college art program for Native American teens in the United States.
OCAC celebrates its 100-year anniversary.
OCAC and PNCA launch a joint Master of Fine Arts in Applied Craft + Design degree allowing students to simultaneously explore craft and design using the combined resources of both institutions.
The new Jean Vollum Drawing, Painting and Photography Building and the Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson Thesis Studios are dedicated.
President Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson ends her eight-year tenure as College President and Denise Mullen is hired as the new President of OCAC.
OCAC launches its MFA in Craft, the only program of its kind in the United States, with Wood Department Head Karl Burkheimer as Chair.
The Journeys in Creativity program marks its 10th anniversary and welcomes nationally recognized Native artist instructors, including co-founder Pat Courtney Gold, Lillian Pit, Tony Johnson, and Toma Villa.
Arthur DeBow, Director of Exhibitions and Alumni Affairs, is awarded Oregon Higher Education Art Educator of the Year by The Oregon Art Education Association.
OCAC graduates the first class in its MFA in Craft: Practice and Innovation.
For more on the history of the Oregon College of Art and Craft, we recommend the following resources:
Kreisman, Lawrence, and Glenn Mason. 2007. The Arts And Crafts Movement In The Pacific Northwest. Portland: Timber Press.