PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Organizers are hoping to bring people together and provide an outlet for Black Lives Matter protesters and supporters to express themselves artistically with an upcoming BLM Art Therapy event.
“This I called art therapy because I feel like art, in general, is a great way to express yourself and take out your frustrations on a piece of paper,” organizer Linneas Boland-Godbey told KOIN 6 News.
The event is happening Wednesday, Sept. 12 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Irving Park with some supplies provided, like paper, colored pencils, markers, chalk, or you can bring your own. Participants will be able to donate their BLM art to Spin Laundry Lounge in Northeast Portland where it will hang on their wall. If it ends up raining, the event will be moved to the Rebuilding Center on N Mississippi Ave., Boland-Godbey said.
The event is a follow up to a similar one held Aug. 12, where about 150-200 people showed up for the peaceful gathering. Like the August event, Wednesday’s art therapy session will feature speakers and music, mostly in form of lo-fi hip hop.
Boland-Godbey, an artist and activist himself, is a frequent attendee to the protests that have gone on in Portland since early May in the name of Black Lives Matter and against racism and police brutality, ever since the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He said part of the mission with these art therapy sessions is to challenge what he said are misconceptions about demonstrators in Portland.
“I know there’s a lot of negativity with the misconceptions that we’re all rioters and stuff like that, which is such a stretch,” Boland-Godbey said. “Yes, there’s people out there who are protesting and they have a right to. But at the same time there’s also a lot of us that don’t go out there and are doing different forms of it.”
A lot of activists participate in daytime events doing things like fundraisers, bake sales, and car washes in order to bring more awareness to Black Lives, he said.
For example, recent wildfires briefly put a pause to nighttime demonstrations which occurred for over 100 days straight in the form of marches and oftentimes confrontations with police. Many groups associated with Black Lives Matter did not cease their activism, instead switching gears to help provide needed supplies to communities throughout the region impacted by wildfires, with a particular focus on Indigenous communities.
Boland-Godbey said he was volunteering with Snack Bloc, a Black Lives Matter group that previously provided mutual aid to protesters, in order to help get supplies for communities that were being affected. Snack Bloc had collaborated in the effort with other grassroots groups, like Fires Igniting the Spirit and Don’t Shoot PDX for the past couple of weeks. Boland-Godbey said the wildfire relief effort will continue in the coming weeks.
The event is free and anyone is welcome, Boland-Godbey said, as long as they’re respectful. He recalled at the first event how one person even came who didn’t agree with the event, but decided to stick around and make art anyway.
“That’s the point of bringing people together, to kind of have a conversation. But also to have for people who are activists or who are protesting to have a therapeutic form of expressing themselves instead of just yelling at someone.”