Intisar Abioto calls herself “an explorer-artist working across photography, dance and writing.” Since she moved to Portland as a young adult with her family, she’s been creatively highlighting and documenting the contributions and talents of Black Oregonians.

A prolific cross-disciplinary artist, some of her projects have included “Black Portlanders,” a photo essay and blog, the “In-Between,” a  public art series of artwork on utility poles and “Sugar Lee”, an installation and solo performance.

Abioto was recently awarded a significant grant from Oregon Community Foundation’s Creative Heights Initiative to create Black Art/ists Gathering, a three-day retreat for Black artists, curators and arts administrators in Oregon.

In this podcast we’ll  hear more about:

–The Black Art/ists Gathering slated for 2023

–Portland Black History such as the Historic Billy Webb Elks Lodge that was nearly destroyed by fire in 2019.

–Her upcoming exhibits such as Black Exteriors, Black Interiors, Opacity of Performance for Takahiro Yamamoto, public art such as the Black Portland Art & Placemaking Initiative featuring the work of photographer/activist Richard Brown and a collaboration for Bobby Fouther‘s Culture+Trauma+Healing exhibit,

— Abioto’s passion to document the Black community.

“I think with any story, like once you get like the whiff or the tale of a story, you wanna know when you dig deeper and you broaden deeper. It’s just a human story. I think if I had ended up somewhere else, I would still be doing this because it, it very much comes from like a community-based love and seeking of Black life and living and fantasy and dreams.  That energy kind of got rooted down into Portland and somehow this specific place…Even the Black Portlanders is a Black diasporic story. Like we’re not just from here where there’s a, a flow of and full and forward, like flocks, you know, like, like a murmuration of those Starling birds…”

More about Intisar Abioto:

Abioto (b. Memphis, TN. 1986) is an artist working across photography, dance, and writing. Moving from the visionary and embodied root of Blackgirl Southern cross-temporal cross-modal storytelling ways, her works refer to the living breath/breadth of people of African descent against the expanse of their storied, geographic, and imaginative landscapes. Working in long-form projects that encompass the visual, folkloric, documentary, and performing arts, she has produced The People Could Fly Project, The Black Portlanders, and The Black. Co-created with her four artist sisters, The People Could Fly Project, was a 200,000-mile flying arts expedition exploring realities of flight and freedom within the African diasporic myth of the flying African and Virginia Hamilton’s award-winning book, The People Could Fly.

Abioto is the recipient of a 2018 Oregon Humanities Emerging Journalists, Community Stories Fellowship for which she began a continuing body of research on the history of artists of African descent in Oregon. She has performed and/or exhibited at Ori Gallery, Portland Art Museum, Duplex Gallery, Photographic Center Northwest, African American Museum in Philadelphia, Poetry Press Week, Design Week Portland, Spelman College, Powell’s City of Books, University of Oregon White Box Gallery, Portland State University, Reed College, and Zilkha Gallery among others. Selected for an Art in the Governor’s Office solo exhibition in 2019 she exhibited and performed with nine Oregon-based Black artists against the inner expanse of the Oregon State Capitol building in Salem OR. She is a recipient of the 2019 Women of Excellence in the Arts Award from the Portland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and a 2020 Lilla Jewel Award for Womxn Artists from the Seeding Justice Foundation. Her publication Black Portlands documents interviews with Black Portlanders alongside her photographs. She was a contributing photographer to MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora (2017) and her photographs illustrated the Urban League of Portland’s State of Black Oregon 2015. With the five women artists in her family, she is the co-founder of Studio Abioto, a multivalent creative arts studio.