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Art & Power: The Art of Code-Switching // Dining Room


This year, RACC is launching a pilot conversation series to engage our creative community in safe and intentional dialogue to address systemic oppression in the arts, the power structures in place, and everything in between. Art & Power: A Conversation Series, will be a set of discussions hosted in various locations around Portland that will focus on the experiences of artists from historically marginalized communities.

Our second installment will feature a panel of 5 artists of color, Demian DinéYazhi´, Jenny Chu, Melanie Stevens, Pepe Moscoso, and Roshani Thakore, discussing the phenomena of code-switching and how it presents itself in the arts. Code-switching, the practice of alternating between different languages or cultural dialects, has become an effortless ability for people of color interacting with communities of color and white communities in order to meet societal expectations, to be successful and to avoid negative stereotypes. How does code-switching manifest in the lives of artists of color? Does the composition of their audience affect their artistic practice? Join us and listen to these 5 artists discuss their experience with code-switching and the burden of identity in a predominantly white city and a eurocentric arts scene.

RSVP is required in order to attend this event. Please contact Humberto Marquez Mendez at if you have any questions or need any accommodations to fully participate in this program.

About the panelists

Demian DinéYazhi´: 

Demian DinéYazhi’ is a Portland-based transdisciplinary warrior born to the clans Tódích'íí'nii (Bitter Water) and Naasht'ézhí Tábąąhá (Zuni Clan Water's Edge) of the Diné (Navajo). Whether he is broaching topics adjacent to Decolonization, Survivance, and Queerness in written or visual language, Demian is caught in a narrative that is informed by romanticized notions of belonging and the alienation experienced through centuries of forced assimilation to white patriarchal capitalist supremacy. Demian received his BFA in Intermedia Arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2014. He is the founder and director of the artist/activist/warrior collective, RISE: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment, which is dedicated to the education and perseverance of Indigenous art and culture. He has contributed to the successful curation and organization of multiple exhibitions, including "WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE: HIV/AIDS-Related Art & Activism, BURY MY ART AT WOUNDED KNEE: Blood & Guts in the Art School Industrial Complex, Survivance: An Indigenous Art & Poetry Intervention, and One Flaming Arrow: an Inter-tribal Art, Music, & Film Festival.

Jenny Chu: 

Jenny M. Chu is the daughter of immigrant parents from Saigon and Hong Kong, the first of her immediate family to go to college, and the only to graduate. She grew up in Oregon. She received her bachelor's from Marylhurst University and received her MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. She serves on the core committee of AWE ( Arts Workers for Equity, is on the board of PICA (, is the Outreach & Volunteer Manager at Write Around Portland (, and is currently part of the RACC Executive Director Search Committee.

Melanie Stevens:

Melanie Stevens is the co-founder, editor, and an instructor of Miss Anthology, an organization that supports and publishes racially and economically diverse young comic artists who identify as female or LGBTQIA+. She is the co-curator of Nat Turner Project, a migratory, radical gallery space that grants artists of color the freedom to create or express their own language within and without the parameters of racial commodification or designation. She is also the creator of the upcoming graphic novel series, WaterShed, a love and death story about America through the lens of race. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree for Political Science from Yale University and her Master’s of Fine Arts degree for Visual Studies at Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Pepe Moscoso:

Pepe Moscoso is a Portland-­‐based cultural arts producer and visual artist. A lot of his work has to do with inclusion, personal narratives, exploring identity, diversity, and storytelling in a variety of forms. He produces creative art projects that provide diverse experiences and foster community engagement.

Roshani Thakore:

Roshani Thakore is interested in using collaboration with artists and non-artists to examine, redefine, and envision new identities and environments through mediums such as drawing, painting, photography, video, movement, processions, storytelling, protests, dance, design, and more. Her work is site-specific; her last body of work was developed in Queens, New York – the most diverse place in the nation and one of the pioneering places for socially engaged practice. While her time in New York, she studied with Andrew Ginzel, worked with the Queens Museum under Tom Finkelpearl’s stewardship, volunteered at Immigrant Movement International, and was part of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective.

She is currently the Jade District Artist in Residence through the APANO and Division Midway Alliance Creative Placemaking Projects Grant, and will collaborate with Anke Schuettler and the Free Mind Collective for the project Answers Without Words, funded by the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s Precipice Fund.