I come from a background of working with non-profit organizations, arts based and non-art based, mostly doing educational work. I am also a painter. Before graduate school, I was working to help U.S. citizens understand how our own foreign policy impacts migration. Some of what I have begun to explore in this program is how I can use an artist in residence model to contribute to the work of immigrant rights organizations and continue to work on these issues in a domestic context. 

Here are some basic principles that have helped me create a framework to work in this way:

  • I am coming in as an outside collaborator and artist.
  • I am defining art as creative processes to solve problems and define our place in this world. (Very influenced by Luis Caminitzer's definition of art and Tania Bruguera's "useful art" as well.)
  • I am working within the goals and needs of the organizations, but asking for flexiblity and openness to try new things, as well as evaluation.
  • I am starting with the small, looking at how the organizations function internally, and how to add to those methods and practices.

I am nurturing and trying to figure out what it means to be an educator, social justice worker, and artist. This past year some projects were:

Mental health and yoga with farmworker women. FHDC, Nuevo Amanecer Housing, Woodburn, Oregon, about 30 miles outside of Portland. 

Here is a blurb about the class, which I may continue when I return to Portland this Fall. 

How can we create spaces that promote our survival? I led a class based in different self-care principles at a social service organization that provides low-cost housing for farmworkers. The class invites farmworker women to co-create a safe space in which we can talk about our mental health, gain resources, and focus on yoga as a practice and philosophical guide for self-care. 

Women during discussion portion of class. Women journaled about how class was impacting them.Farmworker Awareness Week with Patricia Vazquez and Rob Duren. 

Bringing Farmworkers to the Sustainable Food Table at PSU was funded by a grant from the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at PSU. We organized an event series and created a large poster with graphics on farmworker issues nationally, in Oregon, including interviews with local farmworkers and information about organizing by Northwest Treeplanters and farmworkers United, a local union. The poster was installed in the main food food court on campus. The presentations were from the farmworker union, housing center, and a film screening. We were successful in creating some interest and partnerships with the Food Action Collective to continue to organize events annually. 

Poster advertising display and event series.Exhibition of Farmworker Photos by Oregon photographer John Baugess. Part of Picnic Studies exhibit during Open Engagement Conference, 2012.

John Bauguess accompanied members of the Oregon farmworker union, PCUN to visit camps in the Salem, Mount Angel, Silverton and Woodburn areas in 1988 and took a series of photos.  PCUN has a set of large printed photos which Patricia and I borrowed to install in the exhibit as an extension of the work we had done during Farmworker Awareness Week.  The photos were part of larger exhibit highlighting efforts at PSU to engage students on food justice issues. 

MLK Jr. Worker Center, Portland Oregon.

I volunteered at the worker center, run by the VOZ Worker's Education Project, an organization dedicated to leadership training and advocacy for day laborers in Portland. During my time there I proposed a worker profile ongoing exhibit, that would allow workers to read about each other, and hopefully notice common interests, and perhaps initiate more exchange as a result. I have completed some of the profiles which were installed. The project is currently unfinished and on hold due to my travel during the summer months.

The name of the project is "Who We Are" which I developed in conjuction with one of the leadership committee members of the center.