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Grassroots: July 6-10

Open Houses curated by Portland in Color

We were first introduced to Celeste Noche and Emilly Prado when they proposed an event for our festival last year, called Redesigning the Narrative. We were excited by their mission to "disrupt the narrative of a homogenous Portland arts and media landscape by showcasing the work, voices, and experiences of the city’s BIPOC creatives" and eager to amplify their work. That same year, their organization was the focus of Visible's Design Equity Tournament, and they worked with an incredible group of designers to develop their logo.

Through all the twists and turns of putting complex programming together, we got a chance to experience their thoughtful approach to building community, and we were filled with deep respect for the value of what they had built. As artists in their own right, they embodied a deep understanding of how to make space for other artists, and we could feel it in everything they did.

This year, in the midst of a pandemic and an historic civil rights movement, we shifted our festival programming significantly. Open Houses, which had historically been physical locations that opened their doors, no longer felt relevant. Our long-time approach to programming had also created a predominantly white slate of programming, and we felt it urgent to accelerate the focus on content run by BIPoC producers and curators. We turned to trusted collaborators who had the expertise and the network to reset the agenda.

For the first three weeks of this month's Open Houses, Black and Brown curators will shape the features you see each day. We left it open to each curator to define their own terms and their own brief, and each artist to select the work and the words to feature. We took on as much of the production labor as we could, while ensuring the curators, as well as the featured artists and organizations, could frame their own narratives. We provided stipends to value everyone's time.

For this first week, Celeste and Emilly focused their features around a theme. In their own words:

GRASSROOTS: the theme of our Open House week calls upon the intersections of creatives, activism, and community care, particularly within the scope of plants, nature, and beings. As we continue to navigate society amidst the current revolution, we seek the work of makers who have long incorporated equity and advocacy into their art, and continue to build upon generations-long traditions of action. Just like grassroots organizations, many of these artists are independent or work within small teams– a reminder that our activism can and often does intersect with our creative visions.

Join us on Instagram each day this week to celebrate the five powerful artists Celeste and Emilly chose to feature.