10 22 2014
  5:41 pm  
     •     

You've almost certainly seen her work – she's currently showing her paintings and drawing at four different locations around town, plus on cars and exterior walls.

Or your kids have probably spent time engrossed in an art project she's led – including scores of students just in the past few weeks.
She's just as likely to be hanging her jewel-toned canvases in banks or government buildings as she is to be offering support to a grieving community through art, as she did in December at the Community Healing Ceremony organized by the Healing Roots Center for the Medina family after the death of their daughter and her young son.
Nevertheless you may never have heard her name. It's Mo – just Mo.
"I make a point of making sure that I'm involved," she says.
"I've taught out at the juvenile detention center for the past three years I just did a thing with Ockley Green where we did 80 self portraits with kindergarten through second grade, and instead of making it a visual portrait we did portraits about things that we like and things that we did representing us not what we look like."
Mo was the first African American Visual Arts scholarship winner at Portland State University – an honor her straight-A's allowed her to pull down four years in a row.
She received degrees in art as well as history, investing time in research on African American artists through history.
Her biggest mentors have been Portland State art instructor and muralist Isaka Shamshuddin, and her mother.
"The back of my mom's piano still has drawings from when I was five," Mo says. "My mother always doodled and she was always drawing eyes, and eyes are very important in my stuff."
Currently Mo has a whopping four shows.
A stunning all-ink show is at Paccini's Restaurant and Bar, 1717 SW Park Ave., that she describes as "busy crazy basically sharpie and paper."
Her other collections are on the walls at The Calabash 835 SW 2nd Ave., at the Salmon Street Studios in Southwest Portland, and a large Black History Month show is up at the Albina Community Bank in the Pearl District, at 430 NW 10th Ave.
Mo has a special relationship to the Internet, which she sees not as an isolating force, but an educational and empowering one which shaped her many canvases – some tiny, some huge — on important historical figures currently covering several walls of the Albina Community Bank.
"A lot of people on those walls are not necessarily celebrated as heroes, and they need to be," she says.
She lists Malcolm X, Carmichael, and many music and entertainment figures as worthy of more public attention and respect.
"Pretty much anyone on that wall – Paul Robeson, he should be known about," Mo said. "He has, out of the FBI files on people, the biggest file historically, as far as someone they were watching, and a lot of people don't know that, and we should. That's our history combined, all of ours."
Mo is also currently tutoring two young people at Jefferson High School as part of the Professional Artist Mentoring program that will culminate in an art show at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center running Feb. 25 through March 20, Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 4 p.m.
"We need to be involved in our community and giving back, paying forward, through the younger generation," she says. "We have gotten kind of cubicalized where we're really independent and self-centered in our thought process and our function without really thinking about the generations that are coming up underneath us.
"We wonder what's wrong with them – what's wrong with them is us, we're not giving to them like we're supposed to."



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