Meet the 2020 Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize Winners
Author: School of Art + Design
Posted: July 27, 2020

The School of the Art + Design and the College of the Arts is pleased to celebrate the eighth year of the Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize at Portland State University.

We are proud to be able to reward and encourage young artists with this prize, the highest award offered in our school. It acknowledges the achievement and promise of our students and is an important expression of our values and our commitment to excellence in higher education and the arts.

This year’s submissions represented work in a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, installation, drawing, design, multimedia, and community-based social practice projects. There were a breadth of themes, with a general trend toward topics such as culture, identity, everyday life, and the environment. A jury composed of PSU Art + Design faculty and representative professionals from the art and design community reviewed 30 applications from art and design students, both undergraduate and graduate, to be awarded first, second, and third place prizes.

We are pleased to announce that this year’s recipients are Kris Blackmore (BFA Graphic Design), First Place $5,500; Roshani Thakore (MFA Art & Social Practice), Second Place $4,000; and Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson, Jr. (MFA Art & Social Practice), Third Place $3,000.

We further recognize Darby Harrington (MFA Studio Practice), Mai Ide (BFA Art Practice), and Katie Costa (BFA Art Practice), whose strong work the jury deemed deserving of Honorable Mention.

We are extraordinarily grateful to the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation for the support to create the Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize. It was established in 2013 to recognize the achievements of students in the School of Art + Design, raise awareness of the quality of art education at PSU, and to honor the late Arlene Schnitzer, a devoted and inspired leader of art and culture in Portland. The endowed award ensures that each year, three aspiring artists and designers will receive significant recognition and a financial boost as they begin their lives as active, creative practitioners.
A show featuring the work of Blackmore, Thakore, and Stevenson will be exhibited at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University in early 2021.

2020 Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize Jury

  • Horia Boboia, Professor of Art Practice at PSU
  • Kate Bingaman-Burt, Professor of Graphic Design at PSU
  • Lisa Jarrett, Associate Professor of Art Practice at PSU
  • Jordan Hoagbin, Brand Designer at NIKE and 2013 Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize recipient
  • Kelsey Snook, Freelance Designer
  • Ashley Stull-Meyers, former Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Director and Curator of the Art Gym
  • Sarah Meigs, Founder of the Lumber Room
  • Linda Tesner, Interim Director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU

About the Prize Winners

Kris Blackmore, No In Disguise, 2019. Interactive multimedia installation.


Kris Blackmore – First Prize, $5,500

Kris Blackmore is an artist and designer who uses research-based methods to explore the intersections of culture, technology, and aesthetics. Her socially-engaged work examines themes of language, gender performance, privacy, and consent through works that span digital and print media, illustration, moving images, interactive installations, essays, and curatorial projects.

Kris prefers to explore the creative process collaboratively, producing most of her work under the collective moniker Midgray. Her work has been exhibited at conferences and galleries in Rome, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and Portland. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Art Farm in rural Nebraska and in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University. Her artistic and educational work on sexual consent has received grants from the University of California.

Kris is an undergraduate in the School of Art + Design at Portland State University, where she co-founded the Design Book Club. She will receive her BFA in Graphic Design in December 2020.


Kris Blackmore, Hold That Task. This is On, 2019. Interactive multimedia installation.


Kris Blackmore, After All This Time, 2018. Performance For the Camera, 09:46.




Roshani Thakore, LIVE! From CRCI!, 2018. CRCI Comedy School Show featuring Penguin, David, Jesse, Seymour, Tomcat, and Donald performing Rule Violator. Photo from the performance.


Roshani Thakore – Second Prize, $4,000

Roshani Thakore uses art to broaden an understanding of place, uncover histories, elevate voices, and expand a sense of belonging, all with the hope of reconstructing power. She uses her position to complicate, leverage, and advocate with people who have been marginalized to transform systems of oppression through political and community education and acts of resistance. Through organizing strategies, research, and conversations, she seeks to understand a site and its context, using her skills in collaboration with people or institutions to create work informed by all of the collaborators.

Since 2019, Roshani has been the Artist-in-Residence at the Asian Pacific Network of Oregon, a statewide, grassroots organization, uniting Asians and Pacific Islanders to achieve social justice. Prior to this residency, her work has been supported by the Jade-Midway Creative Placemaking Projects Grant, the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation’s School of Art + Design Grant (2018), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Precipice Fund, SE Uplift, the Laurels Fellowship, and the Simon Benson Scholarship. She is a 2020 graduate of PSU’s Art and Social Practice MFA program.


Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr. working with a student at the King School Museum of Contemporary Art (KSMoCA), an art museum within the walls of Martin Luther King Jr. School in northeast Portland.


Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr. – Third Prize, $3,000

Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr. is black, non-binary, and practices primarily in America. The Artist collaborates with people to make artwork for the people. They are an MFA candidate in PSU’s Art and Social Practice program. This spring they were also awarded the Andries Deinum Prize for Visionaries and Provocateurs from the PSU College of the Arts.

Their practice has been dedicated to developing the necessary skills to encourage advanced development of imaginative thinking and self-confident expression in young people ages 4 to 15. They pursue these professional and creative goals passionately because they believe empowered and open-minded young people are the best and most direct way to contribute to ensuring a sustainable and prosperous future society. 


About the School of Art + Design

Driven by a belief in the power of art to shape society, Portland State University's School of Art + Design and its dynamic faculty provide a place where emerging artists, designers, and art historians can question, create, reflect and learn. With over 1,100 undergraduate majors, a vibrant and growing graduate program, a faculty of internationally recognized artists, designers, and scholars, PSU's School of Art + Design brings students from a variety of backgrounds together to exchange ideas and cross conventional aesthetic boundaries. Whether in the studio, computer lab, lecture hall, or working in the community via internships, service projects, exhibitions, and collaborations, our students have the opportunity to forge connections between traditions of visual art and their own developing expression.