Art Practical considers “Elements of Reclamation,” an exciting exhibition of socially engaged artwork by black women and non-binary artists which opened Portland’s newest art space, Ori Gallery, a new space bringing black art back to Portland’s Mississippi neighborhood, run by Maya Vives and Leila Haile.
Co-curated by local poet and artist Samiya Bashir, Elements of Reclamation features work by five local Black artists: Melanie Stevens, Lisa Jarrett, Intisar Abioto, sidony o’neal, and Ori [Gallery]’s own Maya Vivas. Combining facets of sculpture, installation, text, and illustration, the convergence of these powerhouse individuals creates an energetic and potent force field for queer and femme voices. The exhibition begins with Melanie Stevens’s If You’re Watching This, It’s Too Late (2017), a large chiffon and silk print installation, over ten feet, that spans the entirety of Ori. If You’re Watching This, It’s Too Late provides a sort of second entry into the space; viewers first admire the way it hangs tantalizingly close, like a portal, as they walk underneath. Then they have to make a decision as to whether they continue their visit to the left or right of the work, given that the hanging splits the room in two.