Professor in OPB story on art and community responses to racism

January 18, 2018

PNCA professor Victor Maldonado is featured alongside muralist Alex Chiu in a story on OPB about the mural Chiu has painted on 82nd Avenue, a story that is equally hard and hopeful.

Maldonado, who is PNCA’s Inclusions Specialist as well as an Assistant Professor was on the committee convened by Tri-Met to select an artist for the project. And the committee selected Chiu's proposal for a mural celebrating people of the community, "people who work with youth in Portland, ...the themes of the mural are universal. It’s a storybook-like series of panels following Chiu’s young daughter, Mazzy, as members of the community teach her how to dance, play the piano and read." Many of the people Chiu included are people of color.

Maldonado is quoted as saying, “I’m always looking for artists to show me something I can’t see...I mean that’s the value of art, that we can offer each other perspectives.”

The article continues, "Chiu’s proposal resonated with Maldonado, who is Mexican American. It seemed to offer a counter-narrative to Portland’s reputation as 'the whitest city in America.'”

"The response to Chiu’s mural was, for the most part, positive," according to the article. But when Chiu was subjected to racist comments by passersby while working on the public mural and wrote a Facebook post about it, Maldonado and many others reached out to support Chiu. Friends and acquaintances set up a schedule of people to accompany Chiu while he worked. 

The article says that Maldonado notes one "reason why Chiu’s mural is so powerful [is that] it visualizes a living culture and does the radical job of taking up space."

It offers this reflection from Chiu, “I feel like people of color here are trying to figure out their place and coming together to figure out how to be impactful in Portland or have a voice in Portland,” he said. “I want to try to be part of that.”