January 18 – April 30, 2022

Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition

Acrylic on canvas painting by Latoya Lovely. Colorful abstract female figure holds the chin of a young child.

Latoya Lovely, Raising Magic, 2020, acrylic on canvas,

18 x 24 inches

Acrylic painting on birchwood by Baba Wagué Diakité. Portrait of Amilcar Cabral on a yellow background.

Baba Wagué Diakité, Mohamed Youssouf Bathily, 2021

gesso over birchwood and acrylic, 30 x 30 inches

Amirah Chatman, Heaven’s Probably in Phoenix (detail), 2020, pastel on chipboard, Diptych, 44 x 56 inches

Featured Artists:

AnAkA, Annabelle Araya, Julia Bond, J’reyesha Brannon, Amirah Chatman, Steven Christian, Baba Wagué Diakité, Sadé DuBoise, Austin Gardner, Leila Haile, Elijah Hasan, Edmund Holmes, Willie Little, Latoya Lovely, Aiyana Monae McClinton, Jessica Mehta, Christine Miller, Annie Schutz, Sharita Towne, and Kyra Watkins


The Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Program is a multi-university granting project established by Jordan Schnitzer that has awarded funding to 60 emerging, mid-career, and established artists whose practices demonstrate a commitment to social justice. This granting initiative, which categorically references the Black Lives Matter movement(s), gestures towards the germinating financial and intellectual investment in artwork borne out of a continuing, centuries-long fight for Black autonomy, freedom, and most notably, life.

At first blush we might make assumptions about what an exhibition concerned with the finer points of anti-Blackness would yield. If entering the galleries with a predetermined (see also: singular and unwavering) expectation of the ways ‘Black Lives Matter’ should be represented visually, sonically, and conceptually, the audience will likely miss an opportunity to wholly engage with the expansiveness captured in the practices of Black and Indigenous artists. It is paramount that while viewing the exhibition that we examine the role art and artists play in pushing forward, challenging, and morphing movements. While a single object cannot change the course of our present-tense, artists often act as our record keepers, illustrators, documentarians, and architects, making clear to us who we are, where we are, and ultimately, where we are headed. Whether we like it or not.

The 20 artists selected for the Portland State University award cycle stretch the notion of ‘socially engaged artwork’ beyond its cursory definition, resulting in a collection of objects which require multiple shifts in perspective. Through installation, photography, video, painting, performance, textiles, sculpture, poetry, and printmaking, this exhibition is a microcosm of allied and conflicting political, social, and aesthetic approaches. Within this larger web, there are two especially generative throughlines that are working in the background. The first is a desire to confront and reveal the lasting roots of systemic racism, the second is the conceptualization of Blackness beyond monolithic and Eurocentric understandings and articulations.

Earthly and fantastical, explicit and unfixed, the Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition speaks to a breadth of interpretation and imagination, of ideological and formal tensions in how artists illustrate identity and lived experience. Some awardees find it imperative to use art as a vehicle to depict the horrors of white supremacy by swelling the effects to an unignorable size, asking their audience not to turn away. These artworks are a means of intervening the quiet, mundane museum visit and exercising the artists’ capacity to bring light to oft-ignored injustices that impact every aspect of Black lives—down to how we experience art. The artwork of other awardees tends to the intricacies of their individual craft, or the richness of material culture. To joy and pleasure, illustrating and narrating a better world than this, to the intersections of Blackness, indigeneity, and queerness, to secrecy, and to abstraction. Though it is a conscious decision to avoid rendering the violence or policing intrinsic to whiteness for several artists, there are many whose conceptual and formal practices simply have nothing to do with these matters. Noting these differences is not to create or reinforce a binary, but rather to explore the plentiful ways artists are utilizing their practices to make sense of their individual and shared understanding of what Black Lives Matter means in 2021.

This exhibition is not only in the wake of a global pandemic, nor the two years of increased global uprisings and protests in defense of Black life, or even centuries of enslavement and imprisonment, but also; in the spirit of Black creativity, ingenuity, and collectivity.

Text written by Ella Ray, editorially supported by Nia Pipkin-Glover


Alt text: Video still of a performance featuring the artist AnAkA.


Painting by Annabelle Araya of a naked woman tied by ropes and kneeling on the floor. The painting shows a variety of shades of brown and beige.

Annabelle Araya

 Six models in front of a concrete building wearing clothing designed by Julia Bond. They are standing facing the right side of the frame with their faces turned towards the camera and they are all partially bending backwards to create a curved effect.

Julia Bond

Mixed media art piece by J'reyesha Brannon. It shows a tree on a black wooden board. The trunk of the tree is red paper collage. The leaves are painted in green on the board. Under the roots are pictures of the civil rights movement and at the bottom of the board money has been attached. A noose is hanging from the tree and handcuffs and a police badge can be seen in the branches. Around the base of the tree are scattered a white KKK hood, an old fashion sheriff's badge that says “runaway slave patrol,” and a couple of metal crowbars.

J'reyesha Brannon

A pencil drawing by Amirah Chatman of a young woman’s head with long hair spread out around the painting. The woman is lying on a pile of citrus fruits against a blue background.

Amirah Chatman

Steven Christian's artwork involving ​​prints and augmented reality app. It shows stylized drawings depicting armoured pig headed policemen threatening a small human figure. Above them are skyscrapers and a helicopter hovering over them.

Steven Christian

 Underglazes and glaze on ceramic tile by Baba Wagué Diakité. Portrait of three brothers with varied patterns all over the painting's surface. The figures are outlined in blue and surrounded by shades of yellow, red, and green.

Baba Wagué Diakité

Gouache and acrylic on watercolor paper by Sadé DuBoise. The painting shows a woman painted in black and white. She wears purple earrings and headpieces. The red background is adorned by plants in shades of orange and green.

Sadé DuBoise

Austin Gardner's artwork involving performance, wine glass, acrylic paint, tape, and essential oils. In the picture, the glass is broken with red paint on some of its surface.

Austin Gardner

Floral tattoo by Leila Haile in black ink on the model’s upper inner arm.

Leila Haile

 Black and white cinema frame on paper by Elijah Hasan shows the blurry image of a man in a tuxedo against a white background.

Elijah Hasan

Vinyl on brick work by Edmund Holmes. A recreation of the "We can do it" poster from the second world war. This recreation is a Black woman with her arms partially raised, wearing red and blue against a colorful abstract background.

Edmund Holmes

Sculptural work by Willie LIttle. The base of the work is defined by a box with red and white stripes and the word "America" written across it. On top of it is a smaller box, a tiny globe and gun. Above the smaller box is a teal baby figure.

Willie Little

Acrylic on canvas painting by Latoya Lovely. Colorful abstract female figure holds the chin of a young child.

Latoya Lovely

A media photograph replicated onto cotton woven on a TC2 loom. Original screen capture shows photographs of Tamir Rice and breaking news captions of Tamir Rice’s death.

Aiyana Monae McClinton

A nude male figure with gold body paint dancing in front of a grey brick wall. Performance by Jessica Mehta.

Jessica Mehta

Artwork by Christine Miller shows twelve Pan-African flags with different interferences and textures made by the artist.

Christine Miller

Digital print by Annie Schutz of a person screaming at a protest. Image shows three different photographs combined together, two in color and one in black and white.

Annie Schutz

Two Black and White figures on paper with a blue and yellow sphere in the background.

Sharita Towne

Acrylic painting by Kyra Watkins. Portrait of a woman with a veil on top of a brown background.

Kyra Watkins


Willie Little, Key to American Culture, 2016/2019, multimedia oil with object floating on canvas, 96 x 60 inches, Courtesy of the Artist and Froelick Gallery

In the wake of social unrest and national reflection that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Jordan Schnitzer, president of The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, established the Black Lives Matter Artist Grant program. The grant awarded 20 artists from Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington, and Columbia counties with $2,500 to support new or recent artwork reflecting on social justice efforts in response to systemic racism.

The JSMA at PSU would like to thank the jurors including:

Leroy E. Bynum, Jr., Dean of the College of the Arts, PSU
Lisa Jarrett, Assistant Professor, Art Practices, PSU
Ethan Johnson, Associate Professor and Department Chair, Black Studies, PSU
Arvie Smith, Portland-based Artist
Master Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr., MFA in Art and Social Practice, PSU

The Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Program was established by Jordan Schnitzer in partnership with the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU. The program is funded through a generous grant from the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation/Jordan Schnitzer.

The Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition was organized by the JSMA at PSU. Additional funding for this exhibition is provided by Portland State University President's Office and the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.