Write Around PAM: Thelma Johnson Streat

This tapestry by Thelma Johnson Streat feels playful and inviting, and we’d like to use it as inspiration for our own playful writing this week. Streat grew up in Portland, studied at the Museum Art School in the 1930s, and is featured in the Oregon Encyclopedia. She was a dancer, singer, and painter as well as a textile artist. The Portland Art Museum presented her work in a posthumous, one-person-show in 2003. Streat was the first Black woman artist to have a painting included in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. She worked with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera on his Pan American Unity mural for the federal Works Progress Administration in San Francisco in 1939, and her own WPA mural Medicine and Transportation resides in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture.

First, imagine an animal that lives in the ocean. Imagine moving through the water as a huge whale or the tiniest of krill. What do you see? What can you taste or smell? What sounds do you hear? What does the water feel like against your body? Take some time to write about this new underwater experience!

As always, we have two prompts to help you get started. You can use one, both, or write whatever else comes. Set a timer for 10 minutes and just try to keep your pen or pencil moving.

Living underwater… / Everywhere we look…

Writing in community is powerful. We are grateful to our longtime partner Write Around Portland for the writing prompts and inspiration. You can revisit past Sunday posts and look for continuing weekly posts through the winter. Please share your work with us! @writearoundpdx @portlandartmuseum #RespectWritingCommunity #WriteAroundPAM 

Thelma Johnson Streat, Monstro the Whale, 1940, wool, Courtesy of the Fine Arts Collection, U.S. General Services Administration. New Deal Art Project, public domain, L42.32.1

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