PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Artist Julia Bond was looking for a reaction from her creation, the Otherly Spectrum Coat, which goes from the darkest shades of black to the whitest white. It’s a statement about the difference even within the Black community.
“What’s white and what’s black here? Or are all of them black, right? So the coat itself is really an idea of that spectrum, what Blackness is,” Bond said.
She is one of 28 local artists showing their work at the Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition at Portland State University’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
Schnitzer, a Portland philanthropist, financed $2500 grants to Black artists locally and at his other campus museums at the University of Oregon and Washington State.
“So in the anguish of the George Floyd murder, other atrocities and issues happened,” Schnitzer told KOIN 6 News. “I reached out to that group of people who are spokespeople for issues facing society — artists.”
JSMA Executive Director Maryanne Ramirez said the artists used the grant money in different ways.
“Some of the artists used it for work that had recently been created, so they were able to then use the funds to pay bills, or support other endeavors,” she said.
The work, like Edmund Holmes “Black Shield Series,” is provocative.
“You know,” Ramirez explained, “having to be overly friendly or overly happy in order not to be perceived as a threat.”
“This work is important,” Bond said. “This work is necessary. And then to be sitting with all of these other artists here, couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The exhibition runs through April 30. It is free and open to the public.