Capturing the Moment – Stories from a Pandemic

Just over a year ago, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued her executive order putting our state into lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus. Last fall we asked artists to submit works of all media “Capturing the Moment,” reflecting their artistic response to the economic and health crisis in our communities. Submissions flooded in–sculpture, illustrations, video, photography, painting, and more.

See and hear their art. Read their stories. Learn more.

Sayonara Mata Ashita

Michelle Fujii, creates contemporary work centered in the Japanese art forms of taiko (drums) and folk dance. She describes how, as a fourth generation Japanese-American, her art “navigates the multifaceted complexity of identity in our communities, and reveals my journey to claim my own identity story.” Her submission, Sayonara Mata Ashita  debuted May 16, 2020. “Fifty-two people sang along that are a significant and inspirational part of our taiko lives,” she explains. “Our mentors, our Unit Souzou taiko family, our Women & Taiko community connections, our Warabi-za family, our organizational partners. It was such a beautiful and overwhelming journey. As our communities face duress, self-isolation, social distancing, this song was written with the hope that the narrative of this time is not of more othering, but of more togetherness.”

We think you will agree. Have a listen. (Play button located lower left hand corner of the image below).

Credits: Conceived and directed by Michelle Fujii in collaboration with Unit Souzou Ensemble: Ian Berve, Toru Watanabe, David Wells, Vicky Zhang. Special Thanks to: Amy Naylor – Video Editing; David Wells – Sound Editing; Michelle Fujii – Video Project Manager; Koto-Izumi Kuroki, Shakuhachi-Tsuyoshi Ozawa.

Artists tell their stories

In addition to sharing their work for “Capturing the Moment,” artists also shared the ways they personally were impacted by lost opportunities for funding or revenue due to COVID-19. Some were laid off from regular employment, many lost freelance gigs, canceled tours, postponed debuts of new works, and other productions. Some used makeshift spaces to continue working; painting on a friend’s porch or editing in a loaned studio after being evacuated by summer wildfires. Despite the challenges, they demonstrated their resilience and creativity. They adapted, adjusting projects that were canceled or delayed because of the pandemic. They found new life – and continued living – as artists and creatives.

See and hear the works of these local artists and their response to the moment.

Terrance Burton

janessa bautista

Julian Saporiti

May Maylisa Cat

Ashley Mellinger

Valerie Yeo

Somya Singh

Michelle Fujii

Funding for Capturing the Moment came from the City of Portland’s federal CARES money (#PDXCARES). It was specifically dedicated to Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, multiracial, and Pacific Islander artists living in the City of Portland.