Artist Limei Lai’s new mural, Together, enlivens the street scape at Open Signal located on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Portland. This is the seventh mural to adorn Open Signal’s exterior as part of the Fresh Paint program. A partnership between Open Signal and RACC, Fresh Paint is a professional development program providing emerging artists of color with the opportunity to paint a public mural in a high-traffic setting for the first time. Artists learn new ways of creating art for public spaces and build their portfolio. For several artists, the mural projects have lead to other public commissions or opportunities.
The mural depicts three generations of women. “The world is extremely beautiful and fun in the kid’s eyes; it is a complex chaos in the woman’s eyes; it is where the loved ones live in grandma’s eyes. The present and the past, the here and there, we are all in this world together, weeping and smiling and hugging, celebrating women’s lives and the world community,” notes the artist.
Lai, originally from China and now based in Portland, is currently getting her Bachelor’s degree at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. In paint, fabric and clay, she explores themes of change, weakness, and aging through generational stories. Her work is informed by her experiences as an immigrant and her Chinese roots. She believes that art not only evokes issues and problems in society, it celebrates the beauty of this world in its entirety.
This work marks a return for the program, which took a hiatus as Oregonians were directed to stay at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The piece was completed on Sept. 28, 2020, and will remain on display until March 2021.