Conduction: An Intervention with Sharyll Burroughs

March 26, 2023 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
CMCA 4th Floor


Conductions: Black Imaginings takes inspiration from the process of “conduction” in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ novel, The Water Dancer, where engaging past stories and histories via emotionally charged objects is important in the pathway towards new futures. This idea is personified in the book’s Harriet Tubman character, who taps into conduction with her walking stick, which serves as both a symbol of her painful past in slavery and also as a part of the key to freedom.

In this closing program for Conductions, we invite visitors to explore this theme of object activation as a pathway to agency in a participatory discussion with artist Sharyll Burroughs. Burroughs will use her work on view to look at the language of oppression, how it has formed our society and our self-perception within society, and how we can relate to one another.

Sharyll Burroughs uses history, racism, and identity to elicit new ways of contemplating what it truly means to be human. Her interdisciplinary practice includes digital art, mixed media, performance, and art commentary. Additionally, she engages in social practice facilitating group dialogues which reimagine identity. She thinks of herself as an artist who writes, primarily about art, identity, and culture.

Please note that the works in this program contain challenging content. 

This program is supported by the Portland Art Museum’s Artist Fund and the Learning and Community Partnerships Department.


The Portland Art Museum is pleased to offer accommodations to ensure that our programs are accessible and inclusive. All spaces for this program are accessible by wheelchair. Assistive listening devices are also available for lectures. All restrooms have accessible stalls but no power doors. There are single-stall all-gender bathrooms available. Please ask staff for directions.

We will do our best to accommodate your needs when you arrive, however, we need 2-3 weeks advance notice for some specific requests. Please email requests to, or call 503-226-2811.

Photo by Briana Cerezo of artist Sharyll Burroughs with When Blackface is Butoh video installation.
Photo by Briana Cerezo of artist Sharyll Burroughs with When Blackface is Butoh video installation.