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Black History Month is…

I wanted to start this blog out by sharing something our Executive Director Lauren Jost, and many of our staff members have been saying all month and that is:  Black history month is every month.

So! In celebration of Black history month being every month,  I wanted to share a recent excerpt from Rashid Johnson who in a recent interview said:  “We (black people) should be making work as if we are in the center of our own conversations.  We are in the center of this conversation.  For me as an artist, my whole production has been about kind of putting my narrative and my version of blackness whatever that version is (in the center) because blackness is not monolithic… it’s more complicated.”

I love this quote from him because it is a great reminder for us as artists who are black in North America, and also for everyone who enjoys the arts, to know that there is never just one story or perspective that could ever be the voice of black people.  And too, that being black and an artist in this country, may also mean that we tend to, by conditioning, think of the comfort of someone else before ourselves in our work and in our lives.  In awareness of this, it is an actual task to push back against that initial reflex, to check ourselves when we do this and re-center ourselves in our work.

I would like to imagine, for myself, that when I start painting or playing with colors, or pen and ink, that my mind is able to just let go of any pressures to create from a place of needing to be something, but rather just be in-flow of creation, which is always full.  Knowing that all art that is made by black hands has a story that is unique and rich and full and is enough.  As it is.

For myself, the act of creating and making art is my first language.  It is the way I best communicate.

And perhaps this is true for some of the youth we serve through our work here at Arts For Learning NW (formally known as Young Audiences of Portland and SW Washington).

If you love the arts as we all do, below are a few links to seven local black artists in the Portland area who are creating some amazing works and inclusive spaces here in our city.

Enjoy and remember ~ black history month is every month!

  1. Paola De La Cruz –
  2. Intisar Abioto –
  3. Maya Vivas –
  4. Sade DuBoise –
  5. Breana DePriest (Nikki’s cousin) –
  6. Sharita Towne –
  7. Leila Haile –

    watercolor and ink on paper – Nikki DePriest
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