The Music That Makes Us

The Music That Makes Us was a neighborhood music festival and local history archive project of the Kenton neighborhood produced by the PSU Art & Social Practice Program and presented at Disjecta in Portland, OR in 2016.

The Music That Makes Us is an exhibition, music festival and local history archive project that investigates a neighborhood through its music and emphasizes the value of diverse musical expression within a community. 15 different musicians and music groups from Kenton collaborated with us to create a living history archive of the neighborhood through shared personal artifacts, ephemera, and stories from their musical practice. The project seeks to highlight the broad range of musical experiences in the neighborhood and investigates how those practices intersect. Throughout the duration of the show there were spontaneous band practices in the gallery, group singalongs, dance parties, and a guided audio walk that explored Kenton through field recordings and stories from the participants. The project culminated in a live music festival with dueling stage performances by the musicians featured in the exhibition.

Musicians: Zahra Ahmed, De La Salle North Catholic High School Choir, Dorian Neira and Daniel “D.J. Max” Lasuncet, Austin Green, Robin Gordon and the Celebration Tabernacle Ministry of Music, Kenton Brass, Kenton Church Choir, Shirley Meador, The Obo Addy Legacy Project, Peninsula School in collaboration with Caldera, Heather Perkins, André Roberson, Lisa Schonberg, Norman Sylvester, and The World Famous Kenton Club.

Events during the exhibition included:

  • Opening Night, with piano music by Robin Gordon, Dorian Neira, Daniel Lasuncet and Shirley A. Meador
  • The Kenton Audio Walk, a collective group outing streaming a guided audio tour of the Kenton, produced by Renee Sills and narrated by Paula Sylvester, a longtime Kenton resident. The audio tour is a collection of interviews and field recordings that were taken in the neighborhood during February and March of 2016, and acts as an audio archive of Kenton during a transitional period marked by rapid growth and change. Listeners are invited to experience the landscape of the neighborhood through the individual and collective memories of those who have created it. Listen to it here.
  • Family Music Workshops at Peninsula School in collaboration with Caldera, Julie Keefe and Afro Kidworks Dance.
  • Kenton Brass: Open Practice Sessions
  • Kenton Music Festival and exhibition closing reception featuring dueling songs on two round stages with live music from each musician and music group represented in the exhibition.

Special thanks to Chiara Giovando, 2015-2016 Curator in Residence at Disjecta who invited us to produce this project.

See You Again

See You Again was collaborative, caucus-vote museum acquisition project produced by the PSU Art & Social Practice Program and presented at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, OR in 2015.

The Art & Social Practice program was invited to present a project for Shine-A-Light, the Portland Art Museum’s socially-engaged art program. We proposed to use our project honorarium fee (given to us by PAM) to purchase a social practice artwork and then donate that artwork back to the museum. This resulted in See You Again, a cocktail hour hosted in PAM’s ballroom where members of the public voted caucus-style for the first non-object artwork to be proposed to PAM’s permanent collection.

In short but passionate political speeches, each student argued in favor of one of six socially-engaged artworks presented to the public. Artists considered were Ariana Jacob, Paul Ramirez Jonas, Ben Kinmont, Carmen Papalia, Pedro Reyes, and Stephanie Syjuco. After a stirring debate and an eloquent argument by visiting artist Julie Ault, the audience voted for their favorite artwork by standing next to the corresponding flag.

At the end of the evening, Stephanie Syjuco’s notMoMA was chosen by the audience to be proposed for permanent collection to the Portland Art Museum.

The Art & Social Practice program purchased notMoMA from Syjuco and later formally presented it to PAM’s Acquisition Committee, who voted to include the work in the museum’s permanent collection. The process took a while, so in the meantime we presented the work at KSMoCA. The work now is part of PAM’s permanent collection and exists as a set of instructions for producing the work in the future.

Special thanks to Stephanie Parrish, Associate Director of Education and Public Programs at PAM, for her invitation and support of this project, and to Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at PAM, who helped us with the acquisition process.