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‘Art Saved My Life’ is an artist residency program that supports Portland-based Artists of Color to create works around healing from gentrification.
By Melanie Sevcenko | The Skanner News
Published: 22 March 2018

In a new twist on the ‘artist residency,’ a group of Portland creatives are launching ‘Art Saved My Life’ – a local program that supports Artists of Color who have been impacted by the city’s decades-long struggle with gentrification, forced relocation and racial oppression in its North and Northeast neighborhoods.  

Running from April to June, the residency will select three artists – one per month – from any discipline to create works around re-establishing a community in the aftermath of gentrification. Participants will be provided with a stipend and have access to a network of resources.

Not specific to one location, however, the residency will allow artists the flexibility to create pieces throughout the city, from inner Northeast Portland to regions where gentrification has displaced residents to.

“You don’t have to prove to us that you were forced out,” said ‘Art Saved My Life’ organizer Donovan Smith. “'Gentrification’ is a word we use for an experience that’s been continuing in Portland for a long time, so we just want to make sure that Black and Brown folks from our community are first in line for these resources.” Priority will be given to those artists from North and Northeast Portland with ancestral ties to the neighborhood.

During their month-long residency, artists will also have the opportunity to host free, all-ages events to showcase their work, as well as hold discussions and workshops on how art can help heal a community.

“The whole premise of healing is rooted in the fact that our community has a lack of resources and opportunities, and that comes with a lot of trauma,” said Janessa Narciso of Deep Under Ground (DUG), an artistic platform and partner organization of the residency. “When we think about ‘healing,’ we want to be able to dig deep into the logistical obstacles that stand in an artist’s way, but also the things beneath the surface that can only be healed through community and fellowship. That’s the lifeline we’re trying to create with ‘Art Saved My Life.’”

The artist residency is a partnership between local organizations YBG Portland, Deep Under Ground, Friends of Noise and Gentrification is Weird, with funding through a Community Placemaking grant from Oregon Metro.

Candidates must be 18 years or older and be of African, African American, Asian, Asian American, Black, Chicano, Hispanic, Indian, Latino, or Native American descent. Participants will be selected on a rolling basis.

For further information, artists can contact the organizers at [email protected].

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