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Supporting Community Healing with Art

News Article
The City's Creative Laureate, Subashini Ganesan, will lead an arts-focused initiative to support healing in our community.
Published
Valerie Yeo - Wave 2 painting
Wave 2, by Valerie Yeo. "This is a time of grief, resistance, and awakening," says Yeo, "and a time to allow for the outflow of stagnant ways of being." Part of the "Capturing the Moment" collection of artworks purchased last year by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) using the City of Portland's federal allocation of CARES funding (#PDXCARES).

Portlanders have endured the COVID-19 pandemic, political discord around the necessary racial reckoning work, extreme climate disasters like wildfires and an ice storm, and drastic changes to daily life. In these historic times of heightened emotional exhaustion and grief, local artists are still showing up in many ways. They are creating art that is evocative, grounded, and often represent new methods of communication in these isolating times.

The City of Portland acknowledges the need to amplify the power of art to support our community members’ healing. Led by our Creative Laureate, Subashini Ganesan, with support from Mayor Wheeler's Office and Commissioner Rubio's office, the City is embarking on an arts-focused, multi-pronged, community-informed collective grieving and healing initiative. This project will utilize inclusive community engagement strategies to connect with Portland's broad and diverse constituency, especially those who have been hardest hit.

The Creative Laureate, with local artists and community-based organizations, will then develop and implement a citywide strategy to honor the attendees' reflections in a variety of art forms (e.g., murals, stage performance art, exhibits, digital videos). The physical and digital content will then be used for reopening efforts (e.g., City Hall foyer). 

Some of the centering principles of this project:

  • Acknowledging that our survival depends on intertwined communities of cultural organizers, artists, and activists creating and sharing space, resources and mutual aid.
  • Recognizing and respectfully amplifying the myriad ways that we grieve, mourn, and heal as a community.
  • Creating meaningful intersections between art-makers and cultural organizers so that artistic and communal resiliency is highlighted.

This project is beginning now (April 2021) and will continue through October 2021.

For more information, contact Mona.Schwartz@portlandoregon.gov or Samuel.Diaz@portlandoregon.gov.