Portland in Color's Celeste Noche and Emilly Prado

Image: Celeste Noche

For more than two years now, local Filipino photographer Celeste Noche and Xicana journalist Emilly Prado have been hard at work capturing the stories of and making space for their fellow black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC) artists in our city with Portland in Color, the pair’s community driven website and resource hub.  

This Thursday, May 9, the project expands with Portland in Color’s first live event at Swift Agency. Dubbed Rose City Rolodex, it aims to be a spot for “sparking and building lasting relationships” between BIPOC artists working in the city’s creative fields and industry experts that ought to be hiring them (and often aren’t). Plus, live DJ sets and a quality raffle featuring goodies from Bitch Media, Literary Arts, Holocene, Icon Tattoo, and more.

Portland in Color started as a passion project for photographer Noche back in 2017: capturing her fellow artists of color in gorgeous portraits and frank interviews (and, in the process, derailing the myth that few exist in PDX). But when Noche partnered with journalist Prado—who's occasionally penned articles for Portland Monthly—to help secure a Regional Arts & Culture Council grant and interview series subjects in early 2018 , the project evolved into a full-fledged POC artists’ services hub, anchored by a 150-entry (and growing) directory of DJs, chefs, illustrators, poets, and more.

The evolving goal: help get more BIPOC artists hired in Portland’s creative industries. “[No more] falling back on the excuse that ‘I don’t know any people of color [in my industry] and therefore can’t hire them,’” Prado told PoMo for our Oregon Woman package in the May issue of the magazine. “We’re doing the hard work of creating the network.”

Rolodex ups Portland In Color’s goals of exposure with face-to-face connections. “Folks with hiring power often hire within their social circles or who they're familiar with,” says Noche. “So creating opportunities like [Rolodex] helps broaden those circles and will ideally lead to more collaborations and job opportunities in the future.”

Prado continues: “I'm really excited to … create space for those vital in-person connections,” she says. “I'm particularly looking forward to mingling, seeing DJs NO.Bi.Es and Anjali perform, and announcing the raffle because I get to channel Oprah, handing out amazing prizes.” 

Beyond the site’s first live event this week, the duo also have plans for more professional enrichment services by and for directory members. Noche (who photographed a few of our May Oregon Woman subjects) and Prado’s revealing interviews, more than 25 at last count, are still a site highlight, offering a window into the real experiences and challenges of breaking into creative industries in PDX as a person of color.

The site’s “about connection, first and foremost,” says Prado. “Ultimately it’s a tool to really [see] the experiences of people who you maybe don’t know yet.” 

Portland in Color's Rose City Rolodex, 6–9 p.m. Thursday, May 7 at Swift Agency. Free with RSVP.

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