“Perspectives” honors BIPOC photographers’ documentation of Portland’s 2020 Black Lives Matter Protests
The Portland Art Museum is welcoming visitors to reflect on the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 through 60 works by local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). Perspectives exhibition features work by artists Emery Barnes, Joseph Blake, Linneas Boland-Godbey, David (Daveed) Jacobo, Mariah Harris, and Byron Merritt.
During the summer of 2020, Portland Art Museum staff received requests from community members seeking to preserve the plywood window coverings from downtown businesses that had been painted with memorials to Black people killed by police. A similar appeal arrived via email on June 27, 2020—could the Museum recognize the important work of six Black and Indigenous Portlanders who were photographing the protests? First imagined as an online exhibition, and then as an outdoor installation during the Museum’s pandemic-related closures in 2020 and 2021, Perspectives is now on view for the community.
The six photographers included in Perspectives are at different points in their careers, and their subject matter is wide-ranging. What binds them together is photographic skill and a first-person understanding of racism aimed at African Americans, Indigenous people, and People of Color living in the United States. Biased systems including the racial makeup of newsrooms shape and reinforce perceptions of these communities of color, who are typically depicted and described by white journalists.
“Expanding the range of photographs we view beyond those made by photojournalists and specific image selections made by photo editors, particularly during events that directly relate to communities of color, is critical to a deeper and more complete understanding of situations like the 2020 Portland protests,” says Dr. Dolan.
Daveed Jacobo’s grainy, visceral photographs capture some of the more dangerous moments of the Black Lives Matter protests; Joseph Blake’s drone images remind us of the many thousands of people who united to stand against racism in Portland; Emery Barnes’ pictures point to the risks of protesting in public in an era of sophisticated surveillance systems; Byron Merritt spent weeks making powerful portraits at the Apple Store mural wall; Linnaeus Boland-Godbey reminds us that the protests took place during a bucolic summer infused with deep societal pain and a worldwide pandemic; and Mariah Harris balanced expressions of grief with beauty and solidarity.
In solidarity with the national response to George Floyd’s murder during the late Spring of 2020, Portlanders were called to show up for Black lives and dismantle white supremacy—inherently perpetuated by our conventional systems and institutions that for centuries worked against Black human beings.
Through the growing pains of organizing and sustaining hundreds of direct community action events, the fire in Portland never ceased to burn. The fire that fueled righteous rage and passion in the hearts of those who participated, bore witness, and were inspired to make change.
Captured here are various moments during the 2020 Black Lives Matter Protests through the eyes of local BIPOC Artists in Portland, Oregon.
We ask that you follow along this journey, relive these moments, listen to the stories shared, and open yourself up to the perspectives represented.
There is a great transformation underway, and it is never too late to be on the correct side of history. Together in this mass realignment, we uplift the values of our cause and the people for whom we stand up—Black human beings.
—Emery Barnes, Joseph Blake, Linneas Boland-Godbey, David (Daveed) Jacobo, Mariah Harris, Byron Merritt
- Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Free for youth 17 and under. $25 for adults; $22 for college students and seniors;
Free and lower costs ways to visit
- Free admission for youth aged 17 and under
- Free admission for veterans
- Community free day—September 17
- $5 admission for Oregon Trail Card holders
- $25 yearly College Student Pass
- Multnomah County Library Discovery Pass
- Exhibition lead sponsor Bank of America offers cardholders free PAM admission on the first full weekend of each month through the Museums on Us partnership.