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MAT alum uses art to explore Portland Housing Crisis

June 20, 2017

  • The students in the Portland History class who organized the event with one of their posters.
  • The students marching their 100ft banner down 82nd Ave during the event.
  • One of the smaller groups of students and the poster they designed.

 On June 1st, students in alumnus Jason Miller’s Portland History class took part in a walk-about performance highlighting how annexation and city policy/ investments in east Portland have affected their community. The event, Our City, Our Voice, was created in collaboration with artist Sabina Haque at the Jade/Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) Multi-Cultural Space (8114 SE Division St). It resulted in a silkscreen zine and eight large silkscreen posters that ask the question: “How will we as a city map out a more inclusive and sustainable future?” The event also included a 100ft text banner that the students created.

Jason Miller received his MAT from the Graduate School in 2011and currently teaches three sections of the Portland History class at Madison High School. This course works to examine the untold history of the city, focusing mainly on the experience of people of color and women. The last month of the school year is reserved for a community engagement project, and one section was very interested in the unit they had done about gentrification, displacement, and housing cost.

The students were particularly interested in bringing light to the lack of city council, affordable housing, jobs, and paved roads in East Portland and the displacement of people of color in the city of Portland.

“These are issues that are very real for students in my class, many of whom live east of 82nd Avenue in Portland,” Miller said. “Students also wrote personal narratives explaining their connections with the issues that were very moving.”

The students began their partnership with local artist Sabina Haque when they met her on a field trip to her art exhibit at APANO. The exhibit was entitled Annexation and Assimilation Along 82nd Avenue. To create the images for Our City, Our Voice the students were divided into 8 groups, and each group created an image from scratch. Haque helped the students screen print those images to create their zine and large, 10X16 foot posters that were hung from the APANO building.

Over 40 percent of Portland’s children are growing up east of 82nd Ave, a street which historically has been a line of physical and psychological division between inner and outer east-side Portland, despite being the actual geographical center of the city.

This project was funded by the APANO place-keeping program to explore using art as a means of personal expression, civic engagement, and youth empowerment.

A video of the event can be found here.


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