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2014 was an amazing year for KYC. Thank you! Read what's in store for the New Year.

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Read the latest update on KYC's prison art program at Columbia River Correctional Institution.

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Our weekly walking tours start back up May 1st. Read about it here!

RECENTLY

Reflections: Dispatch from CRCI Mural Project #3

Some background: The CRCI Art Workshop is a 12-week collaborative project in which participants will design, create and install a site-specific artwork inside of Columbia River Correction Institution (CRCI), a minimum security men’s facility in North Portland. We’re designing, creating and installing a series of flags – imagine the flags flying above used car lots, flags marking the end of the swimming pool, or Tibetan prayer flags, floating on the wind – and we will hang them throughout the interior and exterior space of CRCI. All participants will also mail flags to people of their choosing on the outside.

We have just started screenprinting. Here’s a pile of the first batch of flags:

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A few of the participants took some time to write thoughts on what it is like to be in our art workshop. Here are their reflections:

Punished for telling the truth and for feeling guilty; the act was punishment enough; I know I’m not a bad person, so does everyone who takes the time to get to know me; it is really hard for me to talk to people, I get really nervous. I start to shake and sweat and my words and thoughts never come out, my opportunity is lost. My drawing and stories I write are subliminal but mean so much, they are glimpses of who I am. Enjoy. (Balue)

This workshop is doing a lot for me, it’s hard to narrow it down enough for me to put into words. I have been taken out of the world. To my friends, family, and neighbors I simply disappeared but this is allowing me to create something, something for my alter-universe I am in now, but also for the universe I once belonged to. I can’t explain how I feel about that, it now seems like I have a place back in the universe I was ripped from. (Dakotah)

This program has helped me branch out of my one-trick pony style. I’m starting to realize my art can carry a message. (Steve)

Life is not counted by the breaths you take but by the times your left breathless. (Nik)

Prison – a dismal experience at best. One day a week I experience a brilliant ray of sunshine. I call it “My art in prison” time. It is my time to smile, have fun, be free. This is not your typical art experience. You don’t have to be an amazing artist to feel at home in this class. We use a lot of modalities and each class is very experiential. We have done etchings, timelines, learned about color, made books, and we are now making flags, to name just some of the things we do in class. This class means the world to me. It allows me to escape the typical prison experience and play in the realm of free expression. It is very expansive and I am very grateful for this class. [Cliff]

“Mural Class.” C.R.C.I. “2014” – this class has been “excellent” for “me.” As a way to channel “positive” behavior. I enjoy this to the extent that I am an aspiring “artist” who maintained from the start of this program that this would be a fun experience for me and others as well. Upon my enrolling others saw “me” and joined as well. People figure if he’s cool and doing programs like this then I might as well ask and enroll. Just like that the class grew. And now I can say I look forward to doing future programs as such.” [Joe]

Stay posted for details about a preview of the project, and the conclusion of the program in the coming days.

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volunteer posting: membership coordinator

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Are you interested in learning fundraising and development? Here’s your opportunity to join a growing nonprofit organization! Through this internship, you’ll learn hands-on skills, helping in our day-to-day operations, and fulfilling our mission of engaging the public in arts and social justice projects.

KYC is looking for a volunteer Membership Coordinator to assist with its membership and donor management efforts. Volunteership requires approximately 2-8 hours of work/ week, with job responsibilities which include overseeing donor management system database, communicating with donors and manage fundraising campaigns and assisting with organizational outreach and community engagement efforts.

This is a great opportunity to learn hands-on development and fundraising skills at a rapidly growing nonprofit organization. Work is based at our downtown office in historic Union Station, and some work that can be done remotely.

Download the job posting here. We are looking for someone to start as soon as possible, or by January 1, 2015. For more info, email: ask@knowyourcity.org.

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DISPATCH #2 FROM CRCI

Silkscreened texture of the walls (L) and floor (R) of our classroom at CRCI.

Silkscreened texture of the walls (L) and floor (R) of our classroom at CRCI.

The CRCI Art Workshop is a 12-week collaborative project in which participants will design, create and install a site-specific artwork inside of Columbia River Correction Institution (CRCI), a minimum security men’s facility in North Portland. We’re designing, creating and installing a series of flags – imagine the flags flying above used car lots, flags marking the end of the swimming pool, or Tibetan prayer flags, floating on the wind – and we will hang them throughout the interior and exterior space of CRCI. All participants will also mail flags to people of their choosing on the outside.

Creating artwork that deals with place – which is essentially a core element of Know Your City’s mission – raises complicated questions about visibility (who and what areas are seen as part of the community) and voice (Who defines community? Who speaks, who listens and who is heard?).

Part of the point of this project is to create more awareness of the prison system on a local level: Portland is not just what is represented through Portlandia. I’m still a relative newcomer to town, but the more I learn about Portland, I realize that the history of this place – like most of the United States – is one of policed borders and displaced peoples. The prison industrial complex is a whole world unto itself. If you don’t have a personal connection to some one in jail, you probably have the privilege to literally never see the behemoth that incarcerates over 2.4 million people in the United States. There are close to six hundred men incarcerated in CRCI. This institution and the people in it are a part of the Portland community.

As this project has morphed from a static mural on a wall into an opportunity to create silkscreened multiples that will live in the world in many places, we’ve had some lively discussions. We’ve talked about personal and cultural understandings of flags: as expressions of pride, values, or information; as objects resonant with symbolism; as banners to inspire emotion; as a “logo for a nation;” as semaphore; as tools of inclusion and exclusion; as representations of patriotism and disillusionment. We have discussed tattoos as markers on the body that can carry meaning for two different types of audiences. Some ink has meaning only to the person who wears it – a personal reminder or message; tattoos can also serve to communicate information or ideas to an external audience. We decided that the flags we create will consider what messages, meaning and information the artists want to share with an internal audience at the prison, but also with folks on the outside. These will not be the flags of conquerors, claiming ownership or land; these flags will be crossing borders of inside and outside, and hopefully making all of us (re)consider our own role in and relationship to the prison industrial complex.

On Wednesday, we started to design the flags. We didn’t get very far because halfway through the workshop, there was an institution-wide lockdown because a tool from the shop was missing. Since I can’t share any design brainstorm images yet, the photo I’m including in the post is a sample silkscreen of two textures created a few weeks ago. We spent some time making rubbings of all the surfaces in our classroom using graphite and newsprint. The textures provide a different way to see the inside of CRCI.

Look for more updates on the CRCI mural project soon. Don’t forget: Know Your City is in the middle of our Fall Membership Drive and when you sign up to be member, you directly support our work like the CRCI Mural Project. As a member, you’ll be able to delve deeper into this project through a talk back about the project and we’re working to make the show open to all members. Make sure we can continue these critical placemaking programs – sign up to be a member of Know Your City now.

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