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 the Regional Arts & Culture Council asked artists to submit works of all media “Capturing the Moment,” reflecting their artistic response to the economic and health crisis in our communities. It was an effort to reflect and record our collective experiences of change, uncertainty, loss, and hope. Submissions flooded in–sculpture, illustrations, video, photography, painting, and more.
In addition to sharing their work “Capturing the Moment,” artists also shared the ways they 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.
A community curatorial team composed of four Black artists and creatives reviewed the submissions and made selections. The curatorial team included: Christine Miller, visual artist; Bobby Fouther, visual and performing artist; Ambush, Creative Consultant/DJ; and Stacey Drake Edwards, textile artist.
Artworks from 34 Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color were selected by the curators for Capturing the Moment. This new public art collection showcases work in a wide scope of media, created by emerging artists and creatives across the region in response to this particular moment in time.
See and hear the works of seven of these local artists (details and links attached). The featured artwork includes the timely and moving video, Sayonara Mata Ashita, conceived and directed by Michelle Fujii in collaboration with Unit Souzou Ensemble; Somya Singh’s “memoir comics” which capture the isolation and familiar scenes of the quarantine including social distancing, protests, and the disconnection experienced through screens and social media. An elegant collection of natural dyed meditation seats and altars, ceramic hand-thrown planters, and vessels from multimedia artist janessa bautista were included along with a short thriller, Vent, by filmmaker Ashley Mellinger. Julian Saporiti’s multi-media No-No Boy media project, Orient Oregon, and May Maylisa Cat’s video Farang Kee Nok (Bird Sh!t Foreigner) confront both the invisible stories of early Japanese American immigrants and today’s appropriation of food culture and racialized labor. Finally, Waves 1-5, a series painted in acrylic on 8” x 8” canvases by Valerie Yeo uses this metaphor to suggest how the rhythmic, steady power of moving water creates permanent change.
#PDXCARES Supported Capturing the Moment
This initiative of the Regional Arts & Culture Council was intended to further and support Portland-based artists making work during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. The call for submissions aimed to reflect and record this time of change, uncertainty, loss, and hope. It will continue to serve and showcase some of the work emerging from artists and creatives during this historic moment. Artist submissions selected for Capturing the Moment will be shared via RACC and the City of Portland’s communication channels including digital formats and social media accounts.
Funding for Capturing the Moment came from the City of Portland’s federal allocation of CARES funding (#PDXCARES). It was specifically dedicated by the city to Asian, Black, Indigenous artists, and all artists of color who reside in the City of Portland.