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Raymond Corral
Dr. Annie Knepler
UNST 132
26 July 2016
The Imitation Game
Life has taken a dramatic and dark turn due to the recent events
affecting our social, economic, and personal stigma. The communities
around the world have witnessed and experienced traumatizing events,
encompassing the intentional destruction of the lives of people of color,
sexual orientation, gender, and economic background. We, as a community,
can most likely agree that these acts of terrorism and traumatic events
gesturing social injustice have paralyzed our daily lives. However, these
events aren't foreign to similar news feeds communities have read over
decades, acknowledging murder, suicide, hate, and terrorism over
generations and centuries. Societies, specifically Portland, Oregon, respond
differently. They recognize these events for what they are, upsetting and
indignant, but refuse to adhere to such calamity without action. Art and
activism has been one distinct act for Portland, emphasizing the social and
economic issues around the world. "Artivism" is that social justice.
The terms art and activism have been formed into a new terminology
that expresses these two concepts. Artivism, which is the act of protesting in
means through art that are generally a reflection of social, environmental,
economic, and racial controversies, is a fairly new and abstract concept. This

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specific generalization of activism provokes community and meaning behind
communal and global policies and tragedies, allowing many artists with such
passion and drive to express visually what others can't. The act of artivism is
the congressional belief, truth, and empowerment behind generational
injustices and terrorism, provoking art as another form of freedom of speech
from past and present affairs.
In recent events, announcements of manslaughter and massacres have
instigated artists to act through various art forms, one that recently caught
the attention of the LGBT community within Portland. On June 12, 2016,
Omar Mateen gunned down and killed 50 civilians at the Pulse nightclub in
Orlando, Florida. This massacre prompted the Portland Bureau of
Transportation (PBOT) to create the "Doors of Love" in response to the lives
lost and their families and friends a week after the shooting during Portland's
Pride Festival. The Portland Tribune released an article by Bianca Pahl, "Art
Display Provides Avenue to Support Orlando Victims, LGBT Community
During Pride Week," in recognition of the art mural and messages provided.
The messages weren't only local but global, involving other participants from
other countries and continents to visit Portland and pay their condolences
(Pahl). Pahl reported a quote from a tourist on the "Doors of Love" mural,
stating "'Australia loves you, Orlando.'" This act of artivism was installed to
instill strength within the community as a unit, emphasized by one of Pahl's
interviewees and creator of the project, Greg Raisman. The periodical events
have conditioned the generations to protest through art, establishing a sense

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of strength and formation between communities. The recognition of artivism
has now formed a new realm of artistic awareness and appreciation.
Historically, Portland has been known to derive from the practices of
black supremacy and segregation, as well as promote community within the
#BlackLivesMatter movement in the recent years. According to the scholarly
article "We're Going to Defend Ourselves," writers Jules Boykoff and Martha
Gies exploited Portland's stance against black culture and the states
discrimination against black lives in the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries. The writers explained that the lives of African Americans were
jeopardized by the suppressed grouped formerly known as the Ku Klux Klan
where many of their initiation ceremonies had been held at Portland's Mt.
Scott Park. However, it wasn't until 1969 when the Portland Black Panther
Party had formed and protested against black discrimination and brutality
(Boykoff, Gies 287).
Presently, the acts of artivism have increased in Portland and around
the world over time, especially due to recent events regarding the unjustified
killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Writer Katherine Brooks
published an article on Huffpost, "How Artists Are Supporting
#BlackLivesMatter in the Wake of Brutality," connecting to local and global
artivism through means of environment and internet. She interviewed Kyle
Chayka, an active artivist, who stated, "'We value posting the image because
speech is cynical.'" Chayka proceeded to explain artivism as the identity
individuals can relate to and convey without the lack of word meanings when

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expressing emotions (Brooks). Artivism has protested these beliefs and
conditioned artists over generations to express concerns about society and
empowerment within a community. These acts expressed through art have
publicly promoted injustices, like many of the portrait murals given tribute to
Sterling, and established a developing notion of art and activism.
Artivism hasn't only influenced generations and communities but
provided an outlet for expressing nonsocial stereotypes of demographics.
The LGBT community has faced scrutinizing social standards. In the journal
article "The Artivism of Julio Salgado's I Am Undocuqueer! Series," Carrie
Hart explains the current political and social terrain on gender and sexuality
and immigration laws. Julio Salgado composed the new terminology of
"undocuqueer" in reference to "undocumented" and "queer." There are
illustrations that resonated with the term and reflected societys
predisposition of these stereotypes and sub cultures (Hart). Tony, an
interviewee, stated on his personal poster, "I am Undocuqueer!
Undocumented and queer. These are my intersecting identities and realities."
These posters weren't framed to exercise or relate to any form of oppression
but influence change within political definitions (Hart 13). The stereotypes
depicted of demographics have prompted individuals to reconstruct the
vision and definitions behind common judgments. Artivism has been an
outlet pressing against these social norms and gender articulations,
promoting equality as a humanistic objectivity, not subjectivity.

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Artivism is a way of expression and creation. The execution of artivism
has not only provided an outlet for individuals but their critiques of
communal and social issues. You may ask yourself countless times whether
or not the mural you pass is accentuating a far more significant meaning.
Artivism is meant to protest the unjustified and social aspects of crime,
terrorism, and individuality. However, in spite of recent events, such as the
Orlando massacre, the tragedy in Nice, France, and shopping mall shooting
in Munich, Germany, can we justify the act of artivism as imitating life? The
act of artivism emulates life, exploiting the truth and travesties we
acknowledge around us.
Stop 1: Greenpeace Rocks

Distance: 6.5 miles, 36 minutes to Stop 2 (bicycle)

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This location provides a different perspective of what art and activism
could portray. The Newsweek published "Greenpeace Suspends Climbers Off
Portland Bridge to Block Shell's Arctic Icebreaker Ship" by Zo Schlanger, in
coverage of the timely events in Portland, Oregon. On July 27, 2015, 26
affiliated Greenpeace group members suspended themselves from the St.
John's Bridge as a form of activism and protest against the Shell ship, MSV
Fennica, from leaving for the Chukchi Sea in Arctic Alaska (Schlanger).
The MSV Fennica was recognized with being equipped with the key material
to continue Shell's Arctic drilling, which prompted this form of blockade to
prevent from further drilling. This blockade was an artistic symbol of a wall,
not necessarily as explicit as the art forms we may consider today. However,
art displays have expanded into different portrayals of art and activism as
one, such as a human or wall blockade. As we walk, I want you to think of
some forms of unconventional art works that could portray as artivism or art
in general. Continuing, previous records showed that a 75 percent chance of
oil spillage were likely to occur within the next 77 years by the Bureau of
Ocean Energy Management, causing fatal environmental destruction due to
the vast ice coverage (Schlanger). This attempt of activism prompted many
local artists to display murals around the city, specifically one by John Daniel
Teply, you see before you. The article "7 Beautiful #ShellNo Creations Show
the Power of Artivism" by Ryan Schleeter explained Teply's mural, painted on
the corner of the Atelier Gallery past the St. John's Bridge, as a focus on the
animals affected by the oil spills and drilling in the Arctic. Teply wrote on the

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wall, "Greenpeace Rocks" (Schleeter). Artivism is not only meant to express
art through a canvas but be interpreted through many other forms of
activism. Can you imagine hanging off of the St. John's Bridge as a form of
artivism and interpret those actions in art?

Stop 2: Vanport Flood

Distance: 5.2 miles, 30 minutes to Stop 3 (bicycle)


The Portland Street Art Alliance published an article, "Historic Graffiti &
Community Murals: Historic Community Murals," exposing the "rich history of
traditional community murals" (PSAA). In the 1960's, Isak Shamsud-Din
painted a mural expressing the effects of the 1948 Vanport Flood, depicting
the elimination of a low-income neighborhood of African American's. The
African American community in Portland is known to have been affected by
racial and discriminatory prejudices. Original murals in Portland targeted
many aspects of these injustices where many citizens rebelled and defaced
private property in the 1960's. These murals publicly enhanced community

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and strength within the African American community. Is there a clear
resemblance with historic claims and allocations against discrimination? I
want you to talk to one another and ask what elements within this mural
clearly defines community and strength. The "Vanport Flood" mural helped
provoke many acts of artivism proceeding into the 1970's. The Albina Mural
Project, a project that took the historical events from Portland and painted
them onto walls, focused on integrating public art, history, and community
as one. Their efforts led them to creating multiple murals, expanding the
diversity of Portland's culture. However, according to the article "Muralists
Ready to Tackle the Big Picture" by Ev Hu of the Oregonian, murals were
classified as vandalism and demanded the same steps you would take to
postings billboard, until 2009 when city law regulations accepted the
influence of artivism (Hu). It was the establishment of art and social affairs,
such as the 1948 Vanport Flood, that allowed art to imitate life and its
transgressions. It is art pieces like this one that have transformed Portland's
historic conservative outlooks into some of the most appreciated and
accepting beliefs we see today. Life has imitated art and shown progression
in forms we once use to be afraid of expressing because of the limitations
and backlash.

Stop 3: Art Fills the Void!

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Distance: 1.7 miles, 11 minutes to Stop 4 (bicycle)


What does this mean to you? Do you think a deeper meaning resides
within the mural? In "Art Fills the Void! The Story of Portland's Oldest 'Gorilla'
Mural," the Portland Street Art Alliance proclaimed that Portland's political art
credits began in the 1980's when the Gorilla Wallflare was formed. They were
recognized as Portland's original graffiti art groups, establishing "'painted
landmarks, political statements, graffiti, and spoofs'" as their frameworks
against social injustice and political issues (PSAA). This mural was their first
attempt at artivism in 1982, ultimately helping influence the change and
development of Division Avenue's urban culture. The mural was painted by
the five Gorilla Wallflare members, embodying 30 by 50 feet of wall space. It
was originally labeled as "Viva mi banana" and created to protest against the
war in Central America, but later changed to Art Fills the Void! in relation to
protesting against the blank canvases and walls in Portland (PSAA). Do you
think it was necessary to change the meaning of this mural? Does it change
the authenticity? Well, their artwork doesn't only gentrify suburban locations

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but also targets city landforms. As we proceed to our next destination you
will come across other murals by the Gorilla Wallflare group, including two
that don't explicitly provoke their meaning; Oh No! located on the Hawthorne
Bridge and Fingerprint located on corner of SE Belmont (PSAA). The Oh
No! mural was painted in response to the allegations and potential "end of
the world" in 1984 (PSAA). The Fingerprint mural was painted to illustrate the
privacy and rights of individuals (PSAA). I ask that you keep an eye open for
specific details that may resonate with the titles of these murals. These art
murals connect with the concept of artivism by provoking injustices and
social misconstructions, not only to those harmed by such issues but also
those who can sympathize.

Stop 4: Doors of Love

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As we come to our last stop of the tour, I want you to acknowledge the
concept of life imitating art and art imitating life. What do you see here? Is it
the attachments of 80 doors or the concrete concept of love, community,
and strength formed into a symbol? The "Doors of Love" project was
developed by the Portland Bureau of Transportation to encourage the
community of Portland to partake in expressing vulnerability and compassion
of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida (Pahl). What you
can't see from eye level is the formation of this barricade. The wall of 80
doors form a question mark. Why is that? In "'Doors of Love' Portland Exhibit
Honors Orlando Victims," Rachael Rafanelli quotes one of the creators, Greg
Raisman, explaining that the formation provokes the question, "'Where are
we going? Where do we want to be?'" I want you to ask yourself those exact
questions as you read the messages of love and peace from individuals
within this community and around the world. Artivism has protested these
exact words, acknowledging the flaws within our community and expanding

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to greater methods of awareness. Artivism doesn't intentionally disrupt
society like activism or physical protest, but provides a new realm of
creativity and originality, just like the "Doors of Love" project.
Sources Cited
Boykoff, Jules. Giles, Martha. "We're Going to Defend Ourselves." Oregon
Historical Society.
111, 3: 284-291. Web. 2010.
Brooks, Katherine. "How Artists Are Supporting #BlackLivesMatter in The
Wake Of
Brutality." Huffpost. n.p. 7 July 2016. Web. 23 July 2016.
Corral, Raymond. Doors of Love. Photograph. 19 June 2016.
Daniel Teply, John. "Greenpeace Rocks." Photograph. Greenpeace. n.p. 7 Aug.
2015. Web. 22
July 2016.
Gorilla Wallflare. "Art Fills the Void!" Photograph. Portland Street Art Alliance.
n.p. 5 Jan.
2015. Web. 17 July 2016.
Hart, Carrie. "The Artivism of Julio Salgado's I Am Undocuqeer!
Series." Writing Papers on
Language and Diversity in Education. 1, 1. n. pag. Web. August 2015.
Hu, Ev. "Muralists Ready to Tackle the Big Picture." OregonLive. The
Oregonian. 16 July 2009.
Web. 22 July 2016.
Pahl, Bianca. "Art Display Provides Avenue to Support Orlando Victims, LGBT
Community
During Pride Week." Portland Tribune. 17 June 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
Portland Street Art Alliance. "Art Fills the Void! The Story of Portland's Oldest
'Gorilla'
Mural." Portland Street Art Alliance. n.p. 5 Jan. 2015. Web. 17 July
2016.
Portland Street Art Alliance. "Historic Community Murals." Portland Street Art
Alliance. n.p.
n.d. Web. 23 July 2016.

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Rafanelli, Rachael. "'Doors of Love' Portland Exhibit Honors Orlando


victims." KGW. n.p. 27
June 2016. Web. 23 July 2016.
Schlanger, Zo. "Greenpeace Suspends Climbers Off of Portland Bridge to
Block Shell's
Icebreaker Ship." Newsweek. Newsweek LLC. 29 July 2015. Web. 15
July 2016.
Schleeter, Ryan. "7 Beautiful #ShellNo Creations Show the Power of
Artivism.'" Greenpeace.
n.p. 7 Aug. 2015. Web. 22 July 2016.
Shamsud-Din, Isaka. "Vanport Flood." Photograph. Portland Street Art
Alliance. n.p. n.d. Web.
23 July 2016.