Diversity abounds at Southeast PCC ‘Arts Fest’

Discover why the ‘East Portland Arts & Literary Festival’ came about, and who’s involved in this unique outer East Portland celebration …

Chefs from Thai Fresh dish up delectable dinners for guests attending the “East Portland Arts & Literary Festival”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Led by, and featuring, artists of color, the second annual “East Portland Arts & Literary Festival” (EPALF) took place Friday evening, October 19, and all of the following day at Portland Community College Southeast Campus.

The evening fête featured supper, catered by Thai Fresh, and live, performance art featuring music and dance – followed by a panel discussion about how communities of color have been underrepresented in mainstream art history, institutions, and media.

Welcoming all to the festival is organizer APANO Cultural Work Manager Candace Kita.

“EPALF a space to express stories that are not often heard or told; the idea is to elevate those narratives,” said the organizer, Asian Pacific Network of Oregon (APANO) Cultural Work Manager Candace Kita at the event.

“It was started by a group of APANO members who are really interested in the intersection of arts and social justice helped plan and coordinate the entire festival,” Kita told East Portland News.

The opening performance, “Autumn Weaves” by Jiko, Ashi and Salty, show Native American customs and cultures, done without words.

A discussion called “These Are Times To Grow Our Souls”, explored the question, “What does the past, present, and future of wellness look like in our communities?” enhanced with an intersection of art and feeling, within communities of color. Leading the discussion are moderator Subashini Ganesan, Liela Haile, ReShaunda G. Brooks, and Maya Vivas.

“Here, people are coming together and having venue at which they can express their voices and their artistic expressions, because the history of art, and the voices of people of color, are often silent and not elevated,” Kita explained.

“Also this festival is also important at this particular time – we can use art and culture to connect with one another, and also to heal,” Kita said. “Healing is major theme this year; it’s how we nourish our souls through art and culture.”

On Saturday, October 20, the college’s Mt. Tabor Great Hall was filled with a book and craft fair, and visual art exposition.

A’Misa Chiu shows her “Zene” works, published by EyeBall Burp Press.

Showing his latest work is author and illustrator of 11 fantasy, creative imaginative storytelling books “for the young and the young at heart” with Believe in Wonder is Brian W. Parker.

The festival also provided workshops and activities, including arts-based meditation, political letter-writing with “Handwritten Revolution”, and family yoga.

Look for the “East Portland Arts & Literary Festival” to return next year, Kita said.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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