Black Lives Matter

20 people of varying ages, races, and genders stand in museum gallery holding signs that read I AM Somebody, Honor King: End Racism, and Union Justice Now! They stand in front of a Hank Willis Thomas installation titled "14,719" which is a series of 28 foot tall blue banners hanging from the ceiling covered in white embroidered stars representing gun deaths in the US in 2018.
Photo from a Don’t Shoot PDX printmaking workshop held in conjunction with the exhibition Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…, November 22, 2019.

We at the Portland Art Museum stand in solidarity with our staff, partners, and community members to demand justice for the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, and far too many other Black and Brown lives lost to police violence and a culture of white supremacy.

As one of the oldest art museums in the United States, we acknowledge our own role in supporting systems of oppression and inequity that have historically highlighted certain stories while marginalizing others. While we strive today for equity, diversity, and inclusion in all of our work, we know we need to do more, and that our work will always be ongoing. We commit to continue our learning, particularly from and with our communities who have been historically underrepresented. We will continue to increase our presence through programs, community partnerships, and arts education. 

We think learning, self-reflection, and direct action are the essential building blocks to confronting legacies of inequity, and that as a museum and civic space, this is where we can do more. We have a number of community resources along with artist talks, programs and lectures, workshops, and exhibition resources to share with you today that speak from a range of perspectives on art, race, representation, and justice.

Amplifying the voices of Black artists and learning in community is important. But direct action is necessary if we want to see these changes and dreams reflected in laws and institutional practices. Don’t Shoot PDX, Oregon Justice Resource Center, the Portland NAACP, the Urban League of Portland, Black Lives Matter: PDX, and others are on the ground working to demand justice and reform. Seek them out and donate if you are able.   

We offer all these learning and community resources as a way to share, converse, and catalyze change in ourselves and our communities.  Please join us on this journey.

—Jaleesa Johnston, Ahash Francis, Amy Gray, Hana Layson, Stephanie Parrish, Becky Emmert
Department of Learning & Community Partnerships

Portland Art Museum Community Partners

In the wake of this moment, we would like to amplify the work of some of our community partners, Don’t Shoot PDX, Oregon Justice Resource Center, and The Numberz, as they continue their work in fighting for social justice and supporting Black lives: 

Don’t Shoot PDX connects with community to further social justice work through grassroots organizing, events, workshops, and programs, uniting as activists and social advocates for youth, families, and vulnerable community members.  

Don’t Shoot PDX is currently on the ground and active in supporting the Black Lives Matter protests. If you have been assaulted, detained, or pepper-sprayed at any of Portland’s protests since the murder of #GeorgeFloyd, please don’t hesitate to use the link to get a legal referral for #BlackLivesMatter Legal Referral Services. 

The Oregon Justice Resource Center promotes civil rights and improves legal representation for communities that have often been underserved in the past: people living in poverty and people of color among them. OJRC is currently fighting for the civil rights of protestors, and working to strengthen the police union contract—which expires June 30—to make use of force a last resort (among numerous other changes).

The Numberz 96.7 is an all-Black Portland radio station that creates a media space for Black people and communities of color, in a city where gentrification has played a significant part in scattering their voices. In addition to supporting community through on-air music, live events and workshops, The Numberz also provides timely and supportive content to listeners, such as their recent Running Up The Numberz episode with mental health coach, Phillip Roundtree, where they discussed healthy ways to process and navigate some of the current issues facing the Black community.   

Disability Justice Resources

We acknowledge the important role that the Black members of the Disabled Community hold in this social justice work. We stand in solidarity with them and are working to increase the incorporation of Disability Justice principles into our work. We are deeply grateful for the collaboration and leadership provided by members of the Portland Art Museum’s Accessibility Advisory Committee. We invite you to explore these resources to learn more.

Disability Justice—A Working Draft by Patty Berne

Disability Justice Resources—Civil Liberties and Public Policy

Disability Visibility Project Podcast Series

Portland Art Museum Learning & Program Resources

A sampling of museum programs and digital resources.  

Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs: A History of Portland’s Black Community
A curriculum and rich digital resource created by the Cottonwood School of Civics and Science that was the focus of an educator workshop at PAM in February 2020.

Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… 
Educator Resources to support deep study of the history, politics, and art that inform Thomas’s work. Created by Katie Gillard, Visual Arts Teacher, Beaverton School District, and Portland Art Museum Summer Teacher Leadership Fellow.

Youth Voices in Common Ground: Photographs by Fazal Sheikh, 1989–2013 
Podcast of conversations between students in the Refugee and Immigrant Student Empowerment (RISE) program at David Douglas High School and Manuel Padilla, then Executive Director of Portland Meet Portland. Watch RISE student Ayan Salat read her powerful poem Racism in the exhibition galleries.

Evening for Educators: Constructing Identity
A dialogue between Lisa Jarrett, Assistant Professor, Art Practices, Portland State University, and Derrais Carter, currently Assistant Professor, Africana Studies, University of Arizona in response to the 2017 exhibition Constructing Identity: Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African-American Art.

Poster Project Highlights

Sonya Clark, Penny Loafers, 2010
Nottingham Studio, Untitled (Portrait of a Couple), ca. 1898
Isaka Shamsud-Din, Rock of Ages, 1976
Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled, from the series Kitchen Table, 1990
Kehinde Wiley, Likunt Daniel Ailin (The World Stage: Israel), 2013
Hale Woodruff, Sunday Promenade, 1939

Programs and Lectures

Hank Willis Thomas in Critical Conversation

By Any Means Necessary: Racial Justice and Representation in the Arts
La Tanya S. Autry, Ph.D. candidate, University of Delaware; Gund Curatorial Fellow, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland

Connective Conversations
Jamillah James, Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA)

A Selection of Artist Talks

Support Portland-based Black artists. Artist Talks feature local artists discussing work on view in the galleries, relating the art to their practice.

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