We welcome visitors to a thoughtful discussion centering the work, experiences and knowledge of Black arts administrators, curators and collectors. Black Artists of Oregon curator Intisar Abioto will be in conversation with Elisheba Johnson of Wa Na Wari; Maya Vivas and Roux Haile of Ori Gallery; and Tai Carpenter of Black Gallery PDX about their practices of place-making for Black healing and communion.
Elisheba Johnson is a curator, public artist, administrator, and disruptor. Feeling left out of the traditional art world, Johnson has dedicated her career to building bridges for artists of color to grow and thrive in our local arts community.Johnson, who has a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts, was the owner of Faire Gallery Café, a multi-use art space that held art exhibitions, music shows, poetry readings and creative gatherings. For six years Faire Gallery Café provided space for Seattle’s young BIPOC arts ecology to create new work, meet future collaborators and experiment with new ideas.
After closing Faire, Johnson went on to work at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture on capacity building initiatives and racial equity in public art. Johnson currently co-manages Wa Na Wari, a Black art center in Seattle’s Central Area that uses the arts to build community and resist displacement. Johnson’s personal art practice examines the beauty and triumph of Black life in America through mixed media and poetry.
Maya Vivas is a multidisciplinary artist working in a variety of mediums such as ceramic, performance, painting, social practice and installation. Maya has exhibited work, spoken on panels and hosted workshops throughout the United States including venues and institutions such as Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, Louisiana State University and Yale. Vivas is also co-founder of Ori Gallery. Whose mission is to redefine “the white cube” through amplifying the voices of Queer and Trans Artists of color, community organizing and mobilization through the arts.
Roux Haile is a transdisciplinary artist. They see their practices as a natural byproduct of their daily survival as well as their passions; identity and creativity as elements which constantly inform each other, resistant to compartmentalization that white supremacy encourages. Dance and circus work centers Haile’s physical disability and Black identity creating liminal space where assistive devices, Afro-centric movement and the Black Queer erotic coalesce. Because African body modification is often vilified and warped by colonialism, anti-Blackness and anti-indigeneity: their tattoo work is based in a desire to re-sanctify the relationship between client and artist. Haile is moving away from the detached, capitalistic relationship fostered by American Traditional tattooing, seeking to elevate and center Black bodily autonomy and determination. Their social practice as director and co-founder of Ori Gallery is birthed out of the necessity for arts spaces that do not cater to the dominant hegemony and center the creative contributions of their communities. The fluidity and interconnectivity of Haile’s work is a constant source of inspiration and joy as it is a direct affront to the isolation imposed by supremacy culture.
Tai Carpenter (she/her) is a writer, gallerist and community archivist with a passion for social impact in the realms of art and civil rights. She is also the founder of Compose Yourself Magazine, an independent online publication spotlighting music, culture and social justice. She has curated political art installations, facilitated panel discussions and organized artmaking workshops centered on civic action with Portland Art Museum, University of Oregon’s Special Collections and University Archives, Society of American Archivists, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Shift Collective and Documenting the Now, among others.
Her work allows her to intersect two passions, art and civil rights, to create a more equitable and creative world by utilizing critical research to facilitate dialogues around art in relation to current social movements.
Tai is currently the Board President of Don’t Shoot Portland, a community-based advocacy nonprofit and Director of The Black Gallery. Most recently she was Gallery Coordinator for the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University, Gallery Manager at HOLDING Contemporary and an Archives & Records Management Coordinator at the City of Portland Archives.
Sep 9, 2023 – Mar 17, 2024
1219 SW Park Ave