An educational experience highlighting one of Oregon’s most natural pairings — art and wine — will become even better this fall at Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Artists selected for the Art of Sparkling, a collaboration between PNCA and Argyle Winery in Dundee that offers a $5,000 scholarship, can officially receive internship credit.
Every year, three PNCA artists tour Argyle’s vineyards, winery and tasting house to create pieces of art to be used on three labels for a limited-edition Vintage Brut set. They start the program by gaining insight on every aspect of the business — from its farming practices to the science behind wine — then create a piece of art in response to the experience. In the fall, they make formal presentations of their work to Argyle staff, wine members and the public at a First Thursday event.
Available to all PNCA artists since 2016, Art of Sparkling provides recipients professional work experience and creative freedom. The combination isn’t common: Food and beverage brands typically have to work with strict design limitations, but Argyle intentionally avoids directing artists’ work, said Kristin Rogers Brown, PNCA associate professor of graphic design and program mentor.
Even the wine choice serves the art. Each bottle has the same wine so staff can focus on sharing the story behind the label to customers, said Cathy Martin, who leads Argyle’s marketing.
The approach stems from a deep respect for the creative process. Argyle sees a parallel with wine-making — the wildly different wines that can be produced from the same grapes, the personal connections that strengthen a product, the evolving nature of ideas — and the artists’ take on the winery informs its storytelling, too.
“We use their response as a reflection of ourselves — what’s resonating? What are they picking up on?” Martin said.
Subin Yang ’17 joined the program its first year as a junior-year illustration major. Now a full time freelance illustrator in New York, she said she appreciated the trust Argyle extended to artists to carry out their vision and the practical experience she gained.
“It was good practice going through the rounds, sketching out my ideas and presenting my work to real clients,” she said. “And it was a great opportunity to do something outside of class, which is rare for students in general.”
But for international students like her, the program was even more meaningful — she would need a work visa after she graduated to even get a chance to work with U.S.-based clients, she said.
Some artists land work with the winery. Argyle commissioned 2020 recipient Eduardo Soto to create a piece for its Ojo Brilloso collection, stretching his mural of the vineyards across three bottles, while another applicant who was not selected will shoot photography for them this fall.
Art of Sparkling helped Yang define her career. After a long process figuring out what she liked and what she’s good at, she discovered she’s passionate about creating artwork surrounding food and the culture around food, she said. Her thesis developed branding and merchandise for the Portland Farmers Market.
“I definitely can say the reason why I enjoyed working at Argyle Winery is because it aligned with my growing interests as an artist,” she said.
Applications for the internship open in December or January of each year, with final selection in the spring. This year’s artists are painter Sadé DuBoise ’24, animator and artist Moss Mata ’23 and illustrator Madz Thomson ’23, and their set releases this fall. View all of the past Art of Sparkling labels here.