Community Art Project in Portland, OR for COVID and BLM
Along with 2020 came the the COVID-19 pandemic and national closings. Consequently, our agency initiated a community art project facilitating small business and artist collaborations. Together we created inspiring public artwork. Artwork is to help uplift spirits of the local community and beautify the streets of Portland, OR.
At the start of quarantine, local small businesses around downtown Portland began to board up their storefront. Subsequently, the community felt bleak and we wanted to do something to help.
Therefore, we began proactively reaching out to businesses to see who would be interested in utilizing their storefront as a canvas for artistic expression during this moment in history. Then, we began to align each business with artists available to donate their time, talent and resources in order to brighten Portland’s streets.
Meanwhile, on May 25 George Floyd’s death sparked the Black Lives Matter Movement. Portland saw more businesses boarding up their storefront. To support Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color (BIPOC) artists and communities, we continued the community art project. Therefore, we shifted the conversation to Black Lives Matter.
As a result, artists created murals in their own styles: a graffiti lettering memorial for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor; a mosaic pop-art style of female black beauty; references to Black Boy Joy; and African inspired textile designs to name a few. In the same vein, we collaborated with local nonprofit Global Works Community Fund and their courageous and inspiring group of teenagers, who formulated concepts for a local artist to transform into a mural design. Pieces reflected on abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), demanding justice for migrant workers, and urging that All Black Lives Matter.
To Sum up, the community art project consists of 30 murals created by 23 different artists from May to August 2020. We were able to secure two grants from nonprofit organization Neighbors West-Northwest to fund artists for their time and supplies. Overall, it has been the honor to work with small business owners and incredible artists from diverse backgrounds to share their talent and interpretation around the current issues at hand.
KOIN NEWS: Businesses, Artists Partner to Create Murals on Storefronts
OregonLive: Portland muralists bring life to a street shut down by coronavirus
Design Portland: The Art of Protest
Neighborhood West Northwest: Neighborhood Murals
CLIENT Neighborhood West Northwest & 19 Portland Small Businesses
SERVICE Community Arts Project - Mural Festival