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May Cat photographed for Portland in Color.

Image: Celeste Noche

Filipino photographer and writer Celeste Noche isn’t afraid to speak out against what she calls the homogeneity of the media. “So many talented people of color aren’t even considered for projects,” she explains. “I’d ask companies why they didn’t feature more work by POC and they’d respond, ‘There aren’t that many,’ or, ‘We just don’t know any.’”

In response, Noche founded Portland in Color, a blog series that showcases local creatives of color through photography and short profiles. Over the last six months, Noche has highlighted more than a dozen local artists and activists, from Ori Gallery co-founder Maya Vivas to sexuality educator Ev’yan Whitney and chef/podcaster Soleil Ho. (Full disclosure: I participated in a shoot with Noche that has not yet been released.)

Thus far, the series has lived entirely online. But in March, Noche teams up with Una Gallery to share Portland in Color with a new, offline audience. “I got to meet [Una director] Mercedes [Orozco] for a PIC profile and was so excited to hear there was a physical space dedicated to elevating the work of POC, queer, and femme voices,” says Noche. “I admire that Una literally takes up space for our community, and really feel that our missions are a perfect fit.”   

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Carlos the Rollerblader photographed for Portland in Color.

Image: Celeste Noche

Una Gallery’s Portland in Color exhibit will run March 1–25, with a public opening event from 6–10 p.m. on March 1. The free event will include art and performances from six PIC alumni, plus snacks and drinks. Celebrations will continue throughout the month with a series of workshops led by past Portland in Color subjects— think freelance writing 101 with journalist (and Portland Monthly contributor) Emilly Prado, and printmaking with Alex, A’misa, and Mazzy Chiu.

For her part, Noche hopes the performances and workshops lead to more community support for the featured artists. “Being a creative often means having the most unstable, unsupported, and undervalued work,” she says. “On top of that, the struggle as a person of color—especially if you’re Black, Indigenous, queer, and/or disabled—is exponential. If I can help bring any attention or any new work to the artists I’ve profiled … this will have been my most meaningful work to date.”

Portland in Color

6–10 p.m. Thu, Mar 1 and noon–5 p.m. Sat–Sun thru Mar 25, Una Gallery, FREE

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