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An artistic vision comes true


Huge grant caps Terri Hopkins 33-year career at Marylhurst Art Gym

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Terri Hopkins has never been afraid of taking a bold approach in the more than 150 exhibits she has curated for the Marylhurst Art Gym.

When Terri Hopkins first arrived at Marylhurst University to begin her duties as curator of the art gym, she was not anticipating an especially lengthy stay. Her longest stint among her previous jobs was two years.

That was 33 years ago. Although Hopkins underestimated her incredible staying power, she brought vision, ambition, a passion for experimentation and enormous energy to the Marylhurst art program.

She transformed what was really just an unused old gymnasium into a forum for some of the most remarkable and innovative art exhibitions in the Northwest.

Best of all, Hopkins is leaving on the highest note of her Marylhurst career. The announcement of her retirement in January 2014 coincided with the announcement that Marylhurst had received a record $1.25 million from the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, which will endow the curator position for the Art Gym and Belluschi Pavilion.

This was the largest grant ever awarded to Marylhurst by a foundation. But Hopkins didn’t have much time for basking. She was too busy getting ready for the Art Gym’s next exhibition.

“Five years ago I knew I wanted to leave, and I wanted things to happen for the next person who took this job,” Hopkins said. “The gallery is in beautiful shape. I so much wanted to get my position endowed, and that is going to make leaving here exciting. I’m really amazingly grateful for this. I’m kind of overwhelmed.”

Hopkins brought excitement to the Marylhurst art program, plus stability. Hopkins’ friend, author Joan Maiers, praised her, saying, “Terri has brought some incredibly wild art here over the years.”

Asked the reason why she lasted more than three decades at Marylhurst, Hopkins said, “I got to create a job I like. It was a very rich experience to be able to give yourself assignments.”

Hopkins brought a background as an art teacher, a gallery director and a lobbyist for public art in Oregon. Her timing in coming to Marylhurst was excellent because the university was undergoing a major transition in the late 1970s from an all-girls Catholic school to a school where highly motivated students could improve their lives.

Upon arriving in 1980, Hopkins possessed a master’s degree in art history, and she found she “really liked working with artists.” She ended up producing more than 150 exhibitions at Marylhurst, as well as publishing hardcover books and pamphlets on the exhibitions. She constantly strived to promote artists of the Northwest.

“The key to a rich cultural life is to allow artists to live and work here,” Hopkins said. “I wanted to be part of creating that. Art is not free. Artists need resources.”

The current exhibition at the Marylhurst Art Gym pretty much sums up what Hopkins’ career is all about. It is “Fernanda D’Agostino: The Method of Loci.” It is simply a summary of D’Agostino’s life and her 30-year career as an artist. Its theme is how both artists and scientists are trying to make the invisible visible. With it, D’Agostino presents a retrospective of her past work and integrates it into a new piece. D’Agostino was given two months to prepare for the exhibit, which Hopkins said “is highly unusual.” But so much about Hopkins’ reign at Marylhurst is highly unusual.

“The Marylhurst Art Gym has been a catalyst for new work,” Hopkins said. “Nanda is basically a sculptor and a media artist. Her work responds to people’s presence. Nanda has been thinking about such a show for 15 years.”

In appreciation, D’Agostino said, “Terri has brought the vision for such an ambitious project to happen.”

The 33 years at Marylhurst were not all roses. The Art Gym was located in the aging B.P. John Administration Building. Thanks to Marylhurst’s remarkable successfully building program, it is now the posh B.P. John Administration Building, and Hopkins can now smile and say, “The gallery is beautiful. I was very involved with its renovation. It is a dream that came true.”

After such a long tenure, Hopkins plans to feel her way into retirement. But her goal is still the same.

“I want to advocate for artists,” she said. “I want to continue to do that.”

For more about the Marylhurst Art Gym, go to marylhurst.edu/arts.