Terrain's Ginger Ewing on Being a Local Champion for the Arts

Terrain's Ginger Ewing on Being a Local Champion for the Arts
Photo credit, Lumiere Tintype Photography

Ginger Ewing (she/her/hers) is a local champion for the arts. I am tremendously proud to have worked alongside her on several projects and I admire her as one of my art admin role models! She is someone to look up to!

Ginger, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been surrounded by art and creativity for a good portion of my life, however, my arts career — as well as my propension for thinking a bit more unconventionally — really began while I was the Curator for Cultural Literacy at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC). While there, I developed and administered many programs from scratch including an in-depth professional development program for regional high-school students interested in becoming exhibit interpreters; a K-20 American Indian educational program; and a monthly after-hours program meant to draw in new museum goers.

I also helped to curate many exhibitions and was trained in Visual Thinking Strategies, a student-centered teaching methodology centered around art. Perhaps most importantly, it was my time at the MAC where I began to contemplate questions like who did and did not have access to art. Why some people seemed more comfortable engaging with art than others, and who largely — both historically and currently — had the power to define what art is.

Simultaneous to this work, myself, my now husband, and 3 of our friends started Terrain with the hopes of building community around art. A community that broke down silos, focused on equity, celebrated the many different kinds of artistic expression, and worked to give a voice to people typically not invited to sit at the table.

Fast forward a decade and a half later, and I am blessed to witness the transformational power of art each and every day. Especially in historically defining times — like the moment we’re living in — where the important role artists and the arts play comes into laser focus. I’m so excited to be a part of a community of people doing such powerful work.

Event-goers enjoying live music at the Terrain 10 event in 2017. Photo Credit: Terrain

How did you start Terrain? And what inspired you to start Terrain and its programs?

Sick of watching young and creative people leave Spokane for cities with more established networks, our initial vision was simple: create new artistic hope for community members who had been overlooked, devalued, siloed, or silenced.

We began as a single one-night event known simply as Terrain, with the goal of getting as many different kinds of people — and artistic expressions — into the same room, at the same time and see what would happen. The first Terrain, we showcased 30 artists to 1,200 attendees.

More than a decade later, we’re building on our initial vision by working toward four core strategies: 1) Building Community through Art and Creativity; 2) Supporting Artists and the Arts; 3) Making the Case for the Arts; and 4) Catalyzing Creative Businesses. In 2019, our original flagship event highlighted 247 artists to an audience of 13,000, and sold 10s of thousands of dollars worth of art.

Throughout the years we’ve added 2 additional annual events (both art markets i.e. Bazaar and BrrrZAAR) where vendors sell an average of $120,000 worth of art and handmade goods in a single day. Terrain also runs a retail storefront (From Here) showcasing the work of over 70+ local artists; a gallery space (Terrain Gallery); an art-driven beautification program (Window Dressing); and a professional development program (Creative Enterprise) for artists and creative entrepreneurs.

Taken at the Terrain Gallery for Take Pride in June 2019. Photo Credit: Terrain

Occasionally we also take on special projects like our Black Lives Matter Mural partnership, or our partnership with the Spokane Symphony (Uncharted) which pairs poets, musicians, performance artists, dancers, and visual artists with symphony players. One of the things that has come into clearer focus for us over the years is that our mission intentionally contradicts white supremacy culture’s focus on disconnection, self-sufficiency, and individualism for a culture that is built around true connection. Something we’re not only incredibly proud of, but that we work really hard to center ourselves around. Our hashtag is #weallbuildthis, and we fervently believe it.

What do you foresee for artists in Spokane and in Washington State in 2021?

I would be remiss to not first recognize that the pandemic will most likely continue to have a profound impact on artists. It’s been heartbreaking on so many levels and I hope we — as individuals, cities, and the state — continue to find ways to support and invest in artists any way we can. For if we don't, as a friend of mine likes to say, “we will have not truly survived this pandemic.”

Secondly, there are 2 quotes I keep returning to over the last several months:

Kendrick Lamar’s “There is no revolution without art;” and Nina Simone’s “An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times.” I think — and I hope — that we’ll see artists at the forefront of an extending social uprising, continuing to build power, and demanding systemic, dynamic, and meaningful change.

Lastly, be it through song, poetry, paintings, murals, dance, Zoom performances, op-eds, etc., I think we’ll continue to see artists do what they do best: Bring meaning and feeling and comfort and connection, and expression and understanding and an overall awareness that we are not alone.

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