As part of its effort to support recovery and resilience in the City of Portland, the City Arts Program has awarded 13 grants totaling $65,000 for art-focused activities and events that support grieving and healing in our community. Three community panelists – Kathryn Harden, Founder and Artistic Director of Steps PDX; Anthony Hudson of Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, a multidisciplinary artist and writer; and Sara Posada, Director of Foundation Partnerships at Mercy Corps – reviewed a total of 61 applications and selected the following projects to receive grant awards:
- Akela Jaffi and the Black Sun Collective, $5,000 for BASS – Black Arts Summer Showcase (BASS) – A two-day mini music festival at the end of the summer. This curated event will include food, vendors and a panel discussion with Black creatives. BASS is a community hub that cares for and uplifts Black artists, creatives and community.
- Uwu Collective, $5,000 for UwUnoco Flo – An all-day multidisciplinary art event with visual art, communal dance, and nature to help community members process grief and serve as catalysts to individual and communal healing. Uwu Collective is Portland-based that uplifts the voices of Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (QTBIPOC) and Trans/Gender non-conforming (T/GNC) people.
- Color Outside the Lines, $5,000 for Belonging Series - Community Healing through Art, Youth Outreach, and Conversation about Belonging. The Belonging Series brings together an array of BIPOC artists and underserved youth, alongside the Portland community, to collaboratively create eight murals on the Eastside of the Willamette River, and also includes a series of workshops to encourage conversations about belonging and healing. All of these collaborative art projects have the intention of bringing joy, life and regrowth to the community.
- East Portland Collective, $5,000 for Graves into gardens: community grieving and healing through art in Lents – Creating a more permanent community art mural in memory of Robert Delgado – one of Lents’ houseless neighbors who was experiencing a mental health crisis at Lents park when he was shot and killed by Portland Police in April 2021. The site has turned into a memorial that the community has kept alive with flowers, candles, words, art and more.
- Elliot Neighborhood Association, $5,000 for Dawson Park Concerts – to restart a summer concert series that holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Historic Albina community, particularly Black Portlanders. The population of the Eliot Neighborhood has been particularly affected by gentrification and ongoing racial disparities, and the Dawson Park concert series provides an opportunity to bring the community together again positively.
- Historic Parkrose NPI, $5,000 for Youth for Parkrose: End Gun Violence. HPNPI will host two film workshops in partnership with Outside the Frame (OTF). These workshops will be for youth (ages 14-20) who live or go to school in Portland’s Parkrose district and desire to unpack how gun violence has affected themselves, their families, their friends and their district.
- Independent Publishing Resource Center, $5,000 for Joint Collaborative Poem Garland - a collectively made visual poem in person. Poets including Intisar Abioto, Stephanie Adams-Santos, jayy dodd, Catie Hannigan, and Coleman Stevenson will contribute first lines of poems that reflect on the grief and healing of the past year. Community members will be invited to come to the new IPRC zine library in August to contribute to the interactive installation.
- Joe Kye, $5,000 for KIMJANG! - Nourish Your Soul. KIMJANG is an afternoon of communal healing and refueling for Asian American creatives. Chef Han Ly Hwang of Kim Jong Grillin will produce a communal meal of Korean BBQ. Under Han’s direction, attendees will make their own kimchi, which they’ll be able to take home. The event will be dedicated to Matt Choi, the late owner of Choi’s Kimchi, a Portland-based Kimchi company. Matt passed away unexpectedly and tragically in October 2020.
- Portland Playhouse, $5,000 for Joy (Comes) In the Mourning & Altared Streets. Working with the King Neighborhood, this series will draw on local, African diasporic and/or Indigenous cultural traditions, creating space for neighbors to acknowledge and release their grief together in public. Inspired by the Jamaican “nine-nights” it takes for a spirit to leave a dead body, the series will take place over nine nights in September and include rituals, song, dance and cooking.
- The Center for the Study and Preservation of Palestine, $5000 for Palestine through the Senses - Three events that engage the community in collective grieving, healing and empowerment. Each event will address a different sensory aspect of Palestinian culture: sound art, visual art, and engaging with the land through nourishment. Especially meaningful and powerful for Palestinians, the event will be accessible to anyone that attends.
- Unit Souzou, $5,000 for RHYTHM PROJECT: Walking to the Heartbeat Event – A collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Artist Horatio Law, filmmaker Dawn Jones Redstone, and a neighborhood cohort to devise a series of healing and processing experiences acknowledging pedestrian safety in East Portland’s Jade District, a historically under-resourced area and one of the most racially diverse neighborhoods in Oregon.
- YGB Portland, $5,000 for BIPOC Ritual Time Capsule - Community members will be invited to commune and pick up time capsule kits that they can take home and share with friends and family. These kits, including various pieces of art and media, will guide folks to slow down and make space for reflection, healing, and grief – a literal and energetic holder of memories and time, which is so important for BIPOC people in a world that seeks to erase their histories.
- Ariel Hernandez, $5,000 for Black Feast. Founded and curated by two Black queer artists, guests and artists across communities come together to share an intimate and sensory four-course meal, and experience poets, musicians and artists of many mediums. Black Feast is literally and figuratively a warm blanket to hold you, hot tea to soothe you, food to love you, art to uplift you, and a best friend to hear you.
The Community Healing through Art initiative was designed by the City’s former Creative Laureate, Subashini Ganesan-Forbes, to amplify the power of art to support healing in our community. For several months, Ganesan-Forbes collaborated with multicultural communities and convened community conversations to inform a citywide strategy for honoring the community’s reflections on the events of the past year and a half – including the COVID-19 pandemic, political discord around the necessary racial reckoning work, extreme climate disasters like wildfires and an ice storm, and other drastic changes to daily life.
“These thoughtful and deeply emotive projects are evidence that in these historic times of heightened emotional exhaustion and grief, so many local artists are showing up in grounded and significant ways,” said Ganesan-Forbes. “Through these and other activations, we as a City can work towards healing as a community by building meaningful relationships between art-makers and cultural organizers. It is this intersection that has the ability to highlight and deepen our communal resilience.”
Other activities previously funded by the initiative include:
- Vanport Mosaic, $5,000 for “We the People,” part of the 6th Vanport Mosaic Festival in June. This festival provides opportunities to remember, repair, reclaim and re-imagine our collective story.
- Darrell Grant, $2,500 for “Soul Restoration Project,” using art to transform and embody spaces. The intention is to activate cultural activity in a space that is underutilized in the Black community and bring an artistic lens to the process of healing and transformation.
- Theater Diaspora, $2,500 to work with Asian American and Pacific Islanders that identify as queer, trans or LGBTQI+ in writing workshops that culminate with a short digital performance of these written pieces accompanied by photography and artwork.
- Salomee Soaug, $5,000 for “Expression Against Oppression x Save Art Space billboard project” – bringing eight billboards to neighborhoods around Portland, fully designed by BIPOC artists and raising awareness about the fight for more justice and equality.
- a movement for Black art initiative, $5,000 for “a gathering and diasporic repast” on May 30th – an intimate gathering at Peninsula Park to memorialize the Black lives lost to violence and to celebrate Black art and artists.
- Friends of Noise, $5,000 for “Rose City Rising Vigil.” Seven candlelight vigils were held in May in parks across the City, culminating in a larger vigil at Pioneer Courthouse Square. These vigils acknowledge the emotional toll of the loss of life due to the pandemic and other causes.
- Portland in Color, $5,000 to curate and publish a multimedia interview series showcasing three BIPOC artists — their artwork, process and shifts spurred by the pandemic. Audio will be captured primarily for transcription purposes and as archival material.
The initiative continues through Oct. 31, 2021, and more grant awards and funded activities will be announced in the weeks ahead. The initiative is funded in part by the Oregon Community Foundation, the Office of Community and Civic Life, the City’s Emergency Coordination Center and the Office of Management and Finance, with support from the Office of Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Office of Commissioner Carmen Rubio.