Justin Maxon (1983) was born and raised in a number of small towns in the woods of northern California, where he grew up part-time on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. Maxon is an award winning visual storyteller, arts educator, and journalist that often utilizes social practice to examine social, political and environmental issues. He has received numerous awards for his photography and video projects, including two 1st place awards from World Press Photo, the Deeper Perspective Photographer of the Year at the Lucie Awards, the Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship, and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace Professional Grant. He was selected to participate in World Press Photo’s Joop Swart Masterclass. He has given more than 50 lectures and has taught photography workshops in over 8 different countries across the world. He was a teaching artist in an US State department sponsored cultural exchange program between the United States and South Africa. He has worked on featured stories for publications such as TIME, Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, Mother Jones, and NPR.
Livin’ the Dream, is a participatory media project undertaken in collaboration with artist’s Leslie Castellano and Laura Montagna, at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility in Eureka, CA. The project centered around the participants identifying an aspiration they wish to pursue once being released and constructing handmade objects, utilizing material available to them, symbolic of their goal.
Rebecca Copper (b.1989) is an interdisciplinary artist that explores the space between symbolic and actionable art. She is interested in using dialogue as a medium to shape experiences and the environment around her. Deeply influenced by the ideas of Fluxus, bell hooks, and writings like the Society of the Spectacle, she supports blurring of art and life while removing hierarchical boundaries that keep art inaccessible. Rebecca has worked with people living in hospice, living under incarceration, as well as youth in some of her social cooperative art projects. She is currently in her first year as an MFA candidate at PSU’s Art and Social Practice Program and is a fellow through the Columbus Printed Arts fellowship. She received her BA from Otterbein University, where she focused on darkroom photography and experimental time-based media of which she pursues alongside her social practice.
Emma Duehr (b.1995) is a project-based artist living and working in Portland, OR.
With an emphasis on social engagement, activism, and material specificity, Duehr builds healing and empowering organizations that facilitates community, conversations, and collaborations. She works with communities engaged in sociology, urban affairs, environmental, and gender studies. Her work typically confronts cultural norms by resurfacing her personal experiences as female in America into projects that ask her audience to consider their own roles in present-day politics. She has maintained a multi-disciplinary artistic career for nearly 10 years and her projects have attained International participation. She has been awarded for her pursuits by Portland State University with the School of Art and Design Scholarship and the Art and Design Gloria Weir Melgard Award and the Fine Arts Division Meneve Dunham Award from Clarke University.
Duehr is in her second year of pursuing her MFA in Art and Social Practice at Portland State University.
I’m an artist and a citizen cultural ambassador from Ukraine. I’ve received a Fulbright scholarship and currently pursue a graduate degree in Art and Social Practice at Portland State University. On this page, I share the cultural exchange activities I engage in during my stay in the United States .
Ukraine has become widely present in the American media and political discourse since the Maidan Revolution followed by the Russian intervention, and the recent impeachment inquiry. But how well do people in the United States know about Ukraine, about its history, politics, art, and culture? People often ask me about the food we eat in Ukraine but rarely about the Maidan Revolution or political issues Ukrainian artists, or society, are dealing with in their work or everyday life. Currently Ukraine is facing Russian intervention, war, other global and domestic challenges and is desperately in need of being supported as an independent country with its own political agency and representation.
Ukraine was always hard to grasp, define, subject or subjugate, and it often served as a destabilizing factor for the imperialist politics of Russia and the Soviet Union undermining it from the inside. Sometimes it is even challenging for Ukrainians to define their own identity and find a consensus on what their country should be like. But instead of seeing it as a negative factor, I propose to recognize it as an endless horizon of possibilities consisting of constantly changing identities and openness to social diversity and inclusion that is foundational for a sustainable democracy.
I hope this resource will help to establish a deeper mutual understanding between the people of Ukraine and the United States.
This webpage is a social practice artwork. It is not an official site of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed on this webpage are entirely those of the artwork participants and do not represent the views of Illia Yakovenko, the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations.
Cultural Exchange Reports
Eastern European Groceries Tour with Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr.
My student mentor Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr. took me to visit Eastern European grocery stores in Portland. During our trip we visited approximately five grocery stores. A map of the stores is coming soon.
Storefronts (visual analysis)
Most of the stores appealed to recognizable Soviet and Russian images in their design. Only one storefront had a sign written in Ukrainian. Although people inside that store were mostly speaking Russian. Whereas some staff members at the store that had an image of St. Basil’s Cathedral at the storefront were speaking Ukrainian.
I very rigorously examined the products available at the stores. Most of the things are being imported from the former Soviet countries including Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, etc. We found the same brand of candy Chervony Mak (UA) or Krasnyi Mak (RU) currently produced in both Ukraine and Russia but that has originated in the Soviet Union. The Russian candies are continued to be produced at the formerly Soviet Red October (Krasnyi Octyabr) candy factory. Ukrainian candies are produced at the Roshen factory that belongs to the former president of Ukraine Victor Poroshenko. I told this to Michael and later to other people while they were tasting the candies. I personally think the Ukrainian version tastes better. We also spoke about the war in Ukraine and the Russian intervention.
The topic of war emerged again when we were trying condensed milk. We got a can at one of the grocery stores. The can had a very recognizable Soviet design even though it was produced in the United States. Condensed milk associates in America with Vietnamese coffee and the Vietnam War.
We further had a dinner made out of boiled potatoes, pickled cucumbers, sauerkraut, Moldavian white cheese (brynza). I told that people in Ukraine are usually having this food during the winter because it is more accessible. Everyone was positively impressed by the food!
A curated series of two-work monthly exhibitions taking place online and offline in Portland. Every exhibition consists of one work from Portland, Oregon area, or neighboring states and one work from Ukraine. Each exhibition addresses a specific theme and is accompanied by a discussions, a display or a screening at a specific place relevant to the theme.
PSU Art & Social Practice graduate student
SoFa Journal editorial board member
Social Practice Club student administrator (PSU’s Student Activities and Leadership Program)
Student Art Mentor at KSMoCA (volunteer position)
PSU Science and Education Center (SEC)
2130-2136 SW 5th Avenue, Portland, OR 97201-4908
illia.yakovenko @ fulbrightmail.com or iy2 @ pdx.edu
PSU Art Building
2000 SW 5th Avenue, Portland, OR 97201
Mary Olin Geiger
mo is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersection of performance, craft practices, and labor. Inspired by the connection between objects and ritual, she works to understand the importance of relationships in tactile learning and research. Often working with salvaged and industrial materials, her explorations value the act of searching. She lives and works between Boiling Springs, PA and Portland, OR.
Shelbie Loomis is a publicly engaged artist and former banker, who focuses her time and efforts on socio-economic research and creates artwork about forgotten social groups such as the Santa Fe New Mexico elderly, third-world countries that she has traveled to, and as of late a social group called the precariat such as immigrants, students, and part-time workforce.
She is engaged with the community by working on murals through Keeping Santa Fe Beautiful, sat on the New Mexico Professional Business Women of Santa Fe executive board which involves themselves with legislation for equal opportunity for jobs and education for women, and as of Fall 2019 has moved to Portland to work on her MFA at Portland State University in Art + Social Practice.
Loomis graduated from Santa Fe University of Art and Design in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Magna Cum Laude after receiving the first Governor’s Scholarship for full tuition in 2010. Since then she has been honored as a 2013 SITE Santa Fe Scholar, President’s Departmental award recipient, and awarded the 2017 Young Professional Business Women of Santa Fe.
She hopes to continue conversations about socio-economics, gender, social and financial norms and include more people of diversity through education, artwork, and workshops and much more.
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 works as an artist, designer, and educator. He employs non-traditional research and social engagement strategies to explore possibilities for fostering community connection and resilience as we move out of the era of the Anthropocene.
Jordan has held positions as a book designer, creative director for a tech start-up, and independent content strategist serving clients including HarperCollins, The Tribune Companies, Random House, and numerous non-profits and small businesses. He has worked in small-scale agriculture and as the coordinator for the International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Community Farm in the Bronx. Jordan has facilitated workshops exploring mindfulness and creativity, the relationship between personal ancestry and our shared future, and the impact of personal narrative in group decision making. He teaches as an adjunct instructor of design at Portland State University.
Jordan’s work is guided by a deep curiosity with how people communicate through social interaction and collaboration, and how art and design can serve as tools for deepening understandings of ourselves and our world.
Brianna Ortega is an artist & educator living between Portland, Oregon and the Oregon Coast, and has moved 26 times in her life. Brianna utilizes art for exploring the relationship between identity and environment. This often occurs through questioning the boundaries of spaces, places, social and emotional spheres, and the shifting of power and responsibility within these frameworks. Utilizing socially engaged practices through video, performance, experiential workshops, publications, and other avenues, she has shown & facilitated her work in Italy, Portland, SDAI (San Diego Art Institute) in San Diego, CBAA in Cannon Beach, and SDSL in San Diego.
In December 2017, Ortega founded Sea Together, a global surf publication to unite and rewrite women’s surfing through art, writing, and community. This community platform empowers and uncovers the voices and expression of female surfers globally, and often takes the public form of workshops, community events, retreats, and surf gatherings. The design is by Angela Blumen and the copy editing is by Mikaela Horvath. Contact Brianna at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to collaborate.
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.
Nola Hanson (b. 1991, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is trans artist whose practice centers the role of embodiment in contemporary social systems. Nola received their BFA in Painting and Art Criticism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014. Nola is the founder of Trans Boxing, an artist-run boxing club based in New York City. Nola’s practice includes independent work and collaborative socially engaged projects, and has been shown in New York, Chicago, Portland, and Milwaukee.