Emma Duehr Mitchell
Emma Duehr Mitchell is an artist, educator, and curator living and working in Portland, Oregon. Her work centers collective storytelling, care, and exchange while working within domestic practices such as gardening, craft, and mail. Her work explores the intersection between public and private spaces, personal and collective value, and the constitution of qualifications. With emphasis on accessibility and social engagement, neighborhoods, metropolitan surroundings, social media, and museums are a few spaces which her work occupies.
She is the Founder of the People’s Plant Museum, an archive and gallery space that preserves the history, stories, and relationships between houseplants and people. She is the Organizer of Talking Tushies, a project that embroiders sexual violence statistics on patches and invites survivors around the world to share their experiences with sexual violence. Her Homes for Homes Project archives residential structures that hold valuable memories. She teaches at Portland State University and is an Artist Mentor at King School Museum of Contemporary Art (KSMoCA). Her work has been exhibited in Africa, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and within the United States.
Emma is in her final term in the MFA Art and Social Practice Program at Portland State University.
People’s Plant Museum (PPM) was founded by Artist Emma Duehr Mitchell as a space for the collection of plants. Living within her plant-filled home in East Portland, she was surrounded by plants gathered from specific people and places, each embodying their own story. She observed the impact plants and humans have on each other and saw a need for collecting, tending, and sharing the history of individual plants. People’s Plant Museum preserves the stories and relationships between plants and people, while exploring the intersection of public and private spaces. The physical plants are exhibited in the 765 sq ft gallery space located inside a residential building in East Portland, Oregon. The museum displays plants alongside interviews with their respective caretakers in the digital archive. All plants in The Collection have been exchanged by people through methods of propagation, trade, and donation. The museum compiles individual plant biographies united by common themes, and invites artists and curators to facilitate projects and events.
Talking Tushies embroiders sexual violence statistics on patches for clothing items and invites survivors around the world to share their experiences with sexual misconduct. These accounts are shared and archived on the project website and in sculptural installations. People are invited to wear the Talking Tushies patches on locations of the body associated with unsolicited sexual objectification to confront the male gaze in public places. Participants can purchase the patches or follow a do-it-yourself template for the project; the project also hosts workshops for participants to create their own patches. Individuals around the world wear the patches and collectively transform everyday public spaces into a collaborative protest against disrespectful sexual behaviors.
The project’s online presence invites participants to discuss issues related to sexual violence, share their stories, and submit photos wearing their patches. Outside of the United States, Talking Tushies has an international community with participants in Africa, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Talking Tushies works to continue the history of women who transform domestic arts practices into political activism. Talking Tushies was created to empower women to walk fearlessly and with confidence while navigating public spaces.
In Collaborations with Olivia, Emma Duehr Mitchell works with Olivia on a series of art projects, spanning novel writing, short story writing, painting, sewing, embroidery, baking, etc. as part of the King School Museum of Contemporary Art (KSMoCA) Artist Mentorship Program.
Buenas tardes mi nombre is Carlos Reynoso, I am originally from Los Angeles but was born in Mexicali Baja California. As a kid growing up in SoCal I was inspired by the street food culture in East Los Angeles and by the various DIY subcultures I grew up around through punk shows and house parties. I earned a BA in Illustration at California State University Northridge, while in school I was involved with MEChA where I helped organize various cultural events on campus. After graduating I started working in nonprofit in HIV organizations, and Mental health and addiction. My work is a mixture of community empowerment, storytelling, and chicanx queerness. While establishing a career in social work I used my training as an illustrator to create flyers for various community events inspired by artist like Raymond Pettibon and Danial Johnston.
Three years ago, I moved to Portland OR and quickly realized how much I missed Mexican street food. As a result, I created Mis Tacones @mistaconespdx a vegan taqueria serving freshly pressed tortillas and seasoned protein similar to that found in East Los Angeles and Baja California. As a teenager and through college I worked in various kitchens in Los Angeles and found the macho centric atmosphere suffocating, so I decided to use Mis Tacones as a queer ran and operating business supporting the community and creating safe space. For the past three years Mis Tacones has partnered up with various vegan and queer businesses and organizations in organizing community events and creating cultural space in Portland.
Work in the Works:
In the next year I hope to establish a permanent location for Mis Tacones as a store front where we can operate as a restaurant and allow community space. Currently I am also working on a story telling project in telling the history of Bath Houses in Los Angeles through a publication or zine.
Jordan Rosenblum is an artist, designer, and educator based in Portland, Oregon. His recent work explores themes of land value and ownership, ecology and climate change, human relationships to time, and design as a medium of interpretation. Jordan’s socially engaged projects include exhibitions and workshops, publications, and visual art.
He teaches at Portland State University, works as a visual designer, and co-directs the RECESS! Design Studio (in affiliation with the King School Museum of Contemporary Art)—an artist project that explores the power of design with elementary school students.
Jordan received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. In Fall 2018 he began graduate studies in Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice program.
Through embedding herself in surf culture, Brianna Ortega uses art as a tool to explore the relationship between identity and place through questioning power in social constructs and physical spaces. She engages with topics of gender, race, Otherness, place, and the in-between spaces of identity. Her work is multidisciplinary, spanning across performance, publishing, organizing, video and facilitation. She is interested in experiential education, and concepts like home, localism, and boundaries.
Brianna (Bri) Ortega is currently a candidate in the MFA in Contemporary Art Practices: Art and Social Practice program at Portland State University, and holds a B.A. in Art Practices with a focus in drawing, video, performance, jewelry, psychology and family studies. She is the Founder, Publisher, Editor and Director of Sea Together Magazine, a global project uniting and rewriting women’s surfing through art, writing, and community. She has been surfing for over a decade and has moved 28 times in her life, which ignites her passion to connect with people across oceans, and be a bridge between others. She has shown & facilitated her work in Italy, Portland, SDAI (San Diego Art Institute) in San Diego, CBAA in Cannon Beach, with Aoka Surf Studio in New Zealand, and SDSL in San Diego.
Belonging in the Library (Conversation and Site-Specific Performance)
I walked around the Parkblocks of Portland, Oregon asking 50 strangers to respond to the question “What does it mean to belong somewhere?” in a 50-page book. While having a conversation with each stranger, they each wrote a response on their own numbered page in the 50-page book. I tore out each page of the book as a performance, and placed each page into selected library books, matching the page number with the page in the selected library book, at the Central Library in downtown Portland, Oregon. A Dewey Decimal code list now exists in the book with no remaining pages in it. By using Dewey Decimal Code list in the book, anyone can find where the 50 pages now belong in the Central Library, and see if the writing still belongs on the assigned page in the specific book or not.
When a stranger or new acquaintance asks me the “Where are you from?” question, I hand them a map with data. It is up to the person to determine where I am from based on evaluating the data on the map. If you want to email me that question, I will send you the map.
Local Fruit (Live Performance & Video Remakes)
In this live performance, I ate local fruit from each state I have lived in. Each box of fruit had a large label identifying where it was from: “Washington Local Blueberries,” “Hawai’i Local Pinneapple,” “California Local Strawberries,” and “Oregon Local Apples.”
The performance began with me saying “I am a local.” I repeated “I am a local” over and over while simultaneously eating the fruit. I stuffed my mouth with more and more fruit while repeating the phrase, increasing the speed of placing more fruit into my mouth and increasing the speed of chewing over several minutes. Eventually, too much fruit was in my mouth, so the “I am a local” words became more and more blurred from “I am a local” to “I am local” to indistinguishable words. Fruit came flying out of my mouth and out of my hands all over the table, as the speed of eating and talking progressed almost violently. The audience finally could not distinguish the words “I am a local” coming from my mouth due to the amount of fruit being stuffed into my mouth. Finally, the amount of fruit inside of my mouth stopped my ability to say “I am a local” at all.
The work was created as a response to people socially engaging with me in my day to day life. When I am in Oregon, people label me as, “the girl from California” or “the girl from Hawai’i.” And when I am in California, people label me as “the girl from Oregon.” When I am in Hawai’i, people label me as, “the girl from California” or “the girl from Oregon”. According to people’s social engagements with me, I do not feel that I am a local anywhere. I created this work as a response to the everyone who labels me as a local of somewhere other than where I am located with them at that moment in time.
Control (Participatory Performance & Performative Video Installation)
Shown from April 1, 2017 through May 15, 2017 at the “DIVERGE/CONVENE: CONTEMPORARY MIXED MEDIA” exhibition at SDAI in San Diego. A video performance was playing on repeat on a computer monitor with mouse and keyboard available for use. The video performance itself became an socially interactive performance by the audience/viewer using the mouse and watching the video performance on the screen. The viewer experiences a loss of control with the relationship of the spaces on the screen.
Elevator Locals (Site-specific Performance & Conversation)
From a physical and aesthetic standpoint, elevators are a space of non-belonging. Most elevators look similar, with plain walls and no decorations, similar to the feeling of airports and Costco. You would not normally think you are anywhere in particular, for you could be anywhere.
I spent hours across multiple days existing in elevators on the Portland State University campus. While inside of the elevators, I told strangers that I was a local of the elevator. I asked them questions such as, “Are you a local?” and together, we explored the meaning of what it means to be a “local.” Strangers responded in multiple ways, including: ignoring me, walking out of the elevator, staring at the wall silently, telling me I cannot be hanging out in the elevator and how I must leave, partaking in conversation with me about localism and identifying ourselves as a local or not, explaining their personal history of developing a relationship with that specific elevator, and asking what it meant to be a local.
Artists Annie Benz and Hana Gustafson documented this project and provided morale support to me in the elevators. We were kicked out of the elevator three times, even though we were performing as locals of the elevator. We were kicked out for having two chairs in the elevator, for “hanging out” in the elevator, and for taking photos.
Local Map (Conversation, Public Performance, and Map)
I talked with strangers around downtown Portland to determine if they were a local or not. If they were a local, I would ask them what their favorite part around the Park Blocks (in downtown Portland, Oregon) was, and if they were not a local, then I would not ask them this question. I let them know that I was creating a local map, featuring locals’ favorite spots. I paid locals $1.00 in compensation for sharing with me their favorite local spot. I created a map, featuring all of the spots around the Park Blocks. Locals were given the map for free, and non-locals had to pay $2.00. Both locals and non-locals were notified about the varying price difference. I asked a few people if I could take a photo with them or of them, with the map. This project considered the social and capitalistic social power structures and privileges that come with being a local or non-local in the world.
Nolan Hanson is an artist based in New York City. Nolan’s interdisciplinary and socially engaged work has been shown in Chicago (ACRE Projects), San Francisco (SFAI), Portland (Assembly), and New York (Cue Arts, On Air Fest, Art in Odd Places). Nolan is the founder and director of Trans Boxing, an art project in the form of a boxing club that centers trans and gender variant participants.
Tia Kramer is social choreographer, site specific performance artist, and educator interested in everyday gestures of human connection. Through her practice, she rearranges elements of daily life—relationships, site and community—to create experiences that interrupt the ordinary. She aspires to engage participants in acts of embodied poetry and collective imagination.
Kramer’s work has been supported by the Seattle Art Museum OSP Residency, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Henry Art Gallery, 4Culture, Artist Trust, and the Eichholz Foundation but her biggest accomplishment to date is when her 5 year old son said “I’m already an artist, just like my mama.” Tia lives in Walla Walla, WA, a vibrant community nestled among expansive agricultural fields and the Blue Mountains.
Visit her website to see what she current work.
Performance for One Person, A series of public encounters choreographed with and for individual residents of Walla Walla, Washington
Performance for One Person, A series of public encounters choreographed with and for individual residents of Walla Walla, Washington was devised by Tia Kramer in collaboration with writer/performer Sabina Rogers and dancer Kathryn Padberg. Each performance is researched in relationship with a single audience member and created in collaboration with their shared communities. Woven into the routine of the audience member’s life, these encounters unfold over the course of hours or days and often end in one culminating event. By rearranging elements of daily life—relationships, site and community—Kramer and her collaborators blur the line between everyday and performance.
As of May 2020, two performances are complete: At Dusk We Walk Home Together, Performance for Guillermo and Three Larks, Performance for Laurie. A third is being developed for Tia’s postal worker, Phillip. Kramer approaches these performances as testimony both to the subjective state of individual bodies and to the histories that have molded them. They mingle, percolate, and pour into each other. There is no single thread, but rather a meshwork of tangled narratives.
Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA
Where we once used the stars and our intuition to locate ourselves, we now look to our phones, rarely considering our bodies in relation to celestial objects orbiting overhead.
Orbiting Together was a participatory project created by Tia Kramer and Eric John Olson. This project used a network of satellites flying over the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) Olympic Sculpture Park as triggers for messages encouraging participants to engage their somatic awareness. Individuals opted into the system create a rhizomatic positioning system composed of people in the place of technology. By the end of the two-month SAM residency, 500 subscribers participated and the project collected hundreds of responses logged on Instagram account and website.
Orbiting Together’s satellite triggered text message system was book ended by two participatory experiences that playfully embraced and critiqued the ways we interact with technology. Choreographer Tamin Totke then joined Tia and Eric to create two public programs called Art Encounters. Throughout the performances, participants received text messages directing them through a series of movements, acts of connection with strangers, and imaginary landscapes. The instructions corresponded, in real time, to satellites passing overhead.
To learn more about the text instructions, satellite triggers and to view the AMAZING contributor responses visit: http://tiakramer.com/projects. ORBITING TOGETHER was generously funded by the 2018 Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park Winter Residency and a grant from the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation.
Eric John Olson
Eric John Olson is an artist and technologist based in Seattle, Washington, USA. His background in human-computer interaction led him to participatory new media and eventually to socially engaged art practices. Valuing collective experiences and cooperative ways of working, Eric collaborates with artists and community members to co-create projects and conduct participatory research. His recent work has examined topics including somatics, displacement, death, and inter-generational exchange. Eric’s work has been supported by the Seattle Art Museum, MadArt Studios, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Eichholz Foundation, 4Culture, The Seattle Public Library Foundation, and others. His projects have been written about in The Seattle Times, CityArts Magazine, Vice Magazine, The Stranger, and other publications.
Older work below, for the most recent work please check out the website above.
We Are a Crowd of Others
Dead Dad Dining Club
The Dead Dad Dining Club is a series of public meals that explore fatherlessness through reenactment and embodiment. Each meal is based on a poetic recipe about a meal that reminded the contributor of their dead or dead-beat father. All recipes were collected and published as a collection of poems in “Dead Dad Dining Club Vol. 1”. For each public meal hosted at MadArt Studio, a felt banner was created to commemorate the reenactment.
Sharing Our Voices
In collaboration with Seattle Public Library, I conducted a series of oral histories celebrating voices from Seattle’s vibrant LGBTQ community. From the interviews I directed and animated 5 short films of interviews with muppet-style puppets of the interviewees and stop animations of their stories.
Zeph Fishlyn (pronouns they/them) is a multidisciplinary visual artist and activist dedicated to personal and collective storytelling as nonlinear tools for reinventing our world. Zeph’s public projects, drawings, objects and installations nurture alternative narratives by questioning, dreaming, distorting, celebrating and demanding. Their most recent work explores absurdity, embodiment, intimacy and playfulness as sources of resilience and creative subterfuge.
Zeph is also a serial collaborator with grassroots groups focused on social and economic justice and LGBTQ liberation. Zeph has focused on creative responses to the SF Bay Area’s economic and housing crisis with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Heart of the City Collective and the Anti-Displacement Coalition among others. From 2007-2010 Zeph worked as a researcher, illustrator and storyteller with the Beehive Design Collective‘s True Cost of Coal graphics campaign, an intricate portable mural and workshop developed in collaboration with Appalachian grassroots organizations that has traveled to hundreds of cities in the US and internationally.
Selected Public Projects
The Mobile Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs (more here)
This mobile, faux office on a bicycle trailer is a research project asking the question, what can art do that government can’t? If current housing logic leads to chronic insecurity, systemic displacement, root shock, and tent cities for the many, then maybe what’s needed is a different logic.
Those We Glimpse: Gathering Our Queer Ancestors (more here)
(ongoing participatory series)
For many of us, coming out as queer casts us out from our own “official” family stories and leaves us searching for ancestors–for that larger web from which we draw strength and context.
Fabric: Raveling/Unraveling (more here)
In the context of escalating evictions throughout the Bay Area, queers occupy a complicated role, both as people at risk for displacement and sometimes as first-wave gentrifiers. What does “home” look like when you pull it out of a particular building, or neighborhood or geography? When circumstances move us, willingly or unwillingly, how do we take “home” with us? How do we prepare to make new home in new places, and who do we prepare to make it with?
More work at www.zephrocious.com…
Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr.
Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr. uses the framework of art to play with and engage in the meaning of life. At times this involves the preparation, serving, and consumption of food, the making of toys, and creating, telling or listening to stories. Other times it involves different things than the aforementioned. As their work specifically occurs within the moments co-created by those present at the time, it is incapable of being reproduced identically for the purposes of commercial commodification. However, they welcome commissioned opportunities to produce content involving contexts and communities that are either familiar or new to the Artist. They are from Earth and are currently practicing Social Practice in Portland Oregon.
My work related to food is diverse in its pursuits, applications, and aesthetics.
Tables for Two is a project celebrating valentine’s day that’s had two iterations so far. On both occasions I curated a four course meal using ingredients sourced from local friends and businesses close to myself and the other project curators/facilitators. In each instance reservations were taken in advance and a space was designed with multiple tables set for two. Documentation for the Alfred iteration can be found here, and the Florida iteration can be found here.
Ice Cream Speakeasy is a project inspired by a very close relationship with friend and farmer Jerry Snyder of Sunny Cove Farm. Jerry is a dairy farmer and raw milk salesman and advocate. From him I learned everything I know about raw milk, which is a controlled substance and all together a contentious issue. Upon learning the plight of those who wish to sell raw milk at risk of arrest, imprisonment, and seizure of their very livelihood I decided to involve myself. In the project I use raw milk to make ice cream, often traveling across state lines to retrieve the ingredients. The preparation of food with raw milk from another state is illegal on both accounts. The participants of Ice Cream Speakeasy events become more aware of the precarious legality of raw milk by openly disregarding the prohibition of the substance. More images can be found here.
Sustenance & Spectacle is a two part documentary shot by friend and artist collaborator Samantha Wiechert. In the first documentary she follows me as I procure ingredients from the same Brooklyn pork store as my maternal grandparents did when they made the featured meal. Later preparing a classic Italian gravy and all the fixins’ to bring to Luke LoPorto at his shop, Timmy Tattoo. There Luke made the perfect plate, photographed it, and tattooed the image the following day. The process and product is an homage to my grandmother, Mimi Sforza, commemorating her life and traditions. Mimi is still alive today, however the tattoo is a part of a larger project where I honor my ancestors through tattoos, wearing my coat of arms on my arms.
The documentary can be found at the respective links: Sustenance & Spectacle Part I and Part II
Community pARTnerships: In 2015/2016 I spent a year in service as an Americorps VISTA. My responsibility as Community Arts Coordinator was to engage the East County community in Maryland and assist in the creation of new youth program in the community arts. During the year I organized various events and activities that sought to garner community perspective on how best to build the programming. Depicted above are a few activities that took place at The East County Community *ice cream emoji* Social. Tell Us a Story involved the simple prompt to tell the audience a story. Community Mapping was a station asking residents to share where they feel safe and unsafe by placing colored stickers on a satellite image of their community. And the Who Got Da’ Best Shoes Competition was an opportunity for community members to show off the best way they knew how, showing off their favorite kicks. Documentation of the Social can be found here. During the summer I was responsible for a youth program of my own prompting the youth to reflect on their best qualities and make a mask expressing them.
The Urban Shaman is an alter ego I developed to explore, reflect, and critique my own culture. Through the development of this persona I’ve sought out others to engage them in reflection on their culture and communities. More can be found here and here.
Roshani Thakore uses art to broaden an understanding of place, uncover histories, elevate voices, and expand a sense of belonging, all with the hope of reconstructing power. She uses her positionality and power to complicate, leverage, and advocate with people who have been marginalized to transform systems of oppression through political and community education and acts of resistance.
She uses organizing strategies, research, and conversations to understand a site and context. She uses her skills, interests, and knowledge in collaboration with a person, people, or an institution to create an entirely new work informed by all of the collaborators.
Since 2019 she is the Artist-in-Residence at the Asian Pacific Network of Oregon, a statewide, grassroots organization, uniting Asians and Pacific Islanders to achieve social justice. Prior to this residency, she received funding from the Division Midway Alliance Creative Placemaking Projects Grant with her project East Portland Art+ Justice Lab. She is a 2020 graduate of the Art and Social Practice MFA program. For her graduate publication, she produced some light, shades of support in our current art ecosystems. You can download some light here.
The East Portland Art + Justice Lab at O82 is a transformative space nurturing engagement, leadership, and change agents by hosting artmaking activities, festivals, discussions, artist residencies, events, and more, weaving the values, knowledge, and experiences of ROSE CDC, APANO, and O82 tenants to create our own cultural fabric in East Portland. The Lab acts as a platform that amplifies the knowledge and resources available in our community in areas of resilience, linguistic, ethnic, and cultural diversity, and resourcefulness directly by the people themselves. The Lab has started an Artist Residency Program with local artists and O82 residents lasting until November 2021. Felecia Graham and Roshani Thakore will work together on a community project on the public health topic of health and safety for black babies and mothers.