Join us for an artists’ conversation moderated by Teressa Raiford – activist, archivist, philanthropist, and founder of Don’t Shoot Portland. This opening panel discussion will dive into the work and process of the six Portland-based, BIPOC photographers featured in Perspectives. Emery Barnes, Joseph Blake, Linneas Boland-Godbey, Daveed Jacobo, Mariah Harris and Byron Merritt will share their reflections on Portland’s Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, and the role photography plays within this ongoing movement.
Teressa Raiford is the founder of Don’t Shoot Portland, a Black-led and community driven nonprofit in Portland, Oregon, that advocates for accountability to create social change in the spaces of human rights and racial justice. In addition to serving on the board of Don’t Shoot Portland, Teressa maintains a strong presence in the city through her consistent organizing and philanthropy. In 2017, Teressa participated on a panel, The Liberated Archives Unconference, where archivists responded to the movement for Black Lives. It was at this point she issued a call to action to the archivist community to bridge resources and educational support. In 2018, Don’t Shoot Portland hosted a workshop with Documenting The Now, including archivists, historians and librarians from across the country. The following year, DSP worked with the Portland Art Museum during artist Hank Willis Thomas’ exhibition to once again build out Liberated Archives for Black Lives workshops during the exhibition. This programming was promoted not only to museums and institutions, but was provided to libraries and other community spaces.
Don’t Shoot Portland has been a leading force in protests for racial justice in Portland since 2014. Since George Floyd’s murder and the following uprising, Don’t Shoot Portland has been on the forefront, filing a successful class action lawsuit against the city of Portland and suing the Trump administration for the federal response of those defending the right to protest. Don’t Shoot Portland also published an in-depth report on Riot Control Agents in June, illustrating the irreparable harm caused by RCAs during the COVID-19 respiratory pandemic. Recent projects include public intervention art installations with the University of Oregon’s Center for Art Research, and upcoming events include a collaborative art project with HOLDING Contemporary and the Memory Work for Black Lives Plenary with the University of Oregon’s Special Collections and University Archives in October.
Emery Barnes is a New York City-based Global Brand Marketer and Photographer. He’s a first-generation Liberian-American and Chicago native, with an untiring passion to seed culture into brands—through music, sports, and art. At 27, Emery has produced 360° campaigns for brands such as DoorDash, Michelob ULTRA, Samsung, Coca-Cola, P&G, and United Airlines. He currently works as a Brand Supervisor at DoorDash. Through his work in Brand Marketing and Photography, he blends his passion for storytelling and craft to bring light to those who are unseen and unheard.
In 2020, Emery lived in Portland and worked for renowned advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy. In addition to his work at W+K, Emery photographed at numerous Black Lives Matter protests that summer, capturing a sense of the many thousands of people who came together during the daily and nightly events. His photographs feature striking contrasts of black and white, visually underlining the heightened tension and unity of the protests. Emery also considered the ethical debates surrounding photographing during protests. Facial recognition technology and other biometric systems of identification are increasingly used today, moving him to block some biometric markers such as protesters’ eyes via black bars (style inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city).
Joseph Blake, a Portland Public Schools elementary school teacher who recently graduated with a master’s degree from Portland State University, has been photographing and making videos regularly since high school. He initially showed up to early Black Lives Matter protests as a participant, but soon turned to documenting the events when viewers responded to the images and personal perspectives he posted on Instagram.
Joseph’s subject matter is wide-ranging. His drone images remind us that many thousands of people protested together during the summer of 2020, while his photographs of law enforcement officers—who seem to float in clouds of tear gas—feel otherworldly. From handheld signs to the many murals that fronted shop windows and the downtown Apple store, Joseph’s images of protest art document the many expressions of anger and honor that appeared throughout the city.
Linneas Boland-Godbey is a freelance photographer and Portland-area event organizer. During the late summer of 2020 he organized events in Irving Park called BLM Art Therapy, inviting people to express their feelings about violence against Black communities through artistic means.
The Black Lives Matter protests began in Portland just ten weeks after the state of Oregon declared a public health emergency due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. To call attention to the experiences of BIPOC Portlanders during the pandemic, Linneas began the Mask’s of Color project. In portraits posted to Instagram, each person posed outdoors and accompanying texts described their personal experiences during the first months of the pandemic. These thoughtful portraits are touching complements to the protest images on view nearby, reminding us of the complex and dangerous conditions people of color encountered throughout the summer and into the fall of 2020.
A lifelong Oregonian, Mariah Harris was born and raised in Portland. She first picked up a Kodak point and shoot camera as a teenager but didn’t dive deep into her passion of photography until 2019. A self-taught photographer who built her own photo business called Moments by Mariah Photography based in Portland, she is a creator of moments focusing on couples, families, and boudoir.
Even while working the graveyard shift at her full-time job, Mariah photographed Black Lives Matter protests most days and nights, throughout the summer and fall of 2020 and into 2021. Many of her images capture expressions of anger and deep pain, while others depict a strong community sustained through collective action in support of racial justice.
Born in Los Angeles and raised between Oregon and California, Daveed Jacobo is a child of immigrant and indigenous parents from Mexico and Guatemala. As an unschooling activist and youth rights advocate, they facilitate for PDX Flying Squads, a youth liberation and anti-oppression collective, and for the Village Free School, a democratic, anti-coercive, self-directed center in Portland. They are also part of the organizing team for the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.
Photography has always been a constant in their life. From staring at old family albums for hours on end to picking up their first camera as a teenager, Daveed uses the lens to communicate complexity within simplicity; peace within turmoil; juxtaposition within symmetry. Photography is both a story and a snapshot of a moment in time. Daveed’s photographs capture many of the confrontational moments that took place during the Black Lives Matter protests. The grainy print quality and movement within the images heighten senses of risk and danger, while their off-kilter camera angles and compositions seem to envelop us in events as they unfold.
During the summer of 2020, at the height of social outrage following the murder of George Floyd, people took to the streets to have their voices heard. Creators took to the walls and barriers meant to protect businesses Downtown to express their feelings through art. The Apple Store with its block-long black painted plywood wall became the central canvas for street art and ultimately a place for gathering, reflection, and solidarity, an art-driven memorial for those who died at the hands of police in the United States. For six weeks, Byron Merritt visited the site daily with his cameras. Initially documenting the art itself, he quickly shifted his focus to photographing those creating the art and those moved by it. The messages of mourning, outrage, hope, solidarity, grief, and empowerment expressed in the artwork was equally evident in those who felt drawn to be in its presence. Byron’s photographs are a reminder of what was felt in this space at this time by thousands who visited the site to reflect, mourn, and draw strength from being in the presence of this art and in the presence of those around them.
Byron is a self-taught lifelong photography enthusiast who is rarely without a camera. Professionally Byron is a Creative executive having spent fourteen years leading consumer experience design and innovation at Nike in Portland and the last two years leading design for Delta Airlines. Byron currently is the Vice President of Design for Amazon Music residing in Los Angeles, California.