PDX’s Exuberant New Mural Celebrates Community and Regional Diversity

In an effort to showcase the diversity of our region, highlight the Port of Portland’s commitment to equity, and also take a fresh approach to art in the airport, a spirited large-scale hand-painted mural titled A Place Called Home was created in partnership with Portland Street Art Alliance and two local Portland artists: Alex Chiu and Jeremy Nichols. This impressive new mural is now on view pre-security in the North Pedestrian Tunnel via the Parking Garage to and from Baggage Claim within Portland International Airport.

Throughout the design process, Alex and Jeremy consulted with Port employees as well as representatives from the Native American Youth and Family Center, Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Black United Fund, Urban League of Portland and Latino Network, as well as members of our PDX Airport Community Advisory Committee.

It is our sincere hope that travelers and residents alike see this work as a celebration of community, inclusion and the wondrous sense of home we feel at PDX. Please enjoy the online interactive mural by visiting this link: A Place Called Home

Summers in the Portland area are filled with a variety of community-oriented, family-friendly events. Foresighted city leaders started the Rose Festival during the first decade of the 20th century to put Portland on the map and brand it the ‘summer capital of the world.’ Little did they know that more than a hundred summers later, the festival would feature three popular parades, a three-weekend urban fair packed with great entertainment and food, and an iconic Court made up of local high school women like Rose Queen Mya Brazile making goodwill visits around the state. Learn more at rosefestival.org.

Ed Edmo is an acclaimed Shoshone-Bannock poet, playwright, performer, traditional storyteller, tour guide and lecturer on Northwest tribal culture. Ed served as a consultant to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian and his many adaptations of Native American legends from the mid-Columbia River region have been incorporated into cultural performances that bring the stories and their lessons to a broad audience of all ages. Learn more at ededmo.tripod.com.

The Waterfront Blues Festival is the largest celebration of blues, soul, funk and rhythm & blues west of the Mississippi and takes place over the long Fourth of July weekend at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The festival began back in 1987 as the Rose City Blues Festival and featured a performance by the local Norman Sylvester Blues Band. Today, the event has four stages filled with amazing performances and is recognized as one of the world’s premier blues festivals. Learn more at waterfrontbluesfest.com.

Part of my role as a muralist is to engage with each community in order to reflect what it wants to see and how it wants to be seen. After processing feedback from cultural organizations, community leaders and Port of Portland employees, I had the privilege to paint the diverse faces of Portland and the Pacific Northwest. Although it would be impossible for me to include all of the communities represented in our region, I feel the mural highlights important aspects of our local culture and daily life, and truly reflects a sense of home.

My parents are both Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong, and I always felt stuck between two very different worlds – balancing my Chinese identity with my American identity. My younger self pushed back against my Chinese cultural heritage because I felt it made me different from my friends. Lately, I’ve been trying to reclaim my cultural identity and define my experience as a second generation Asian American. My face will always communicate my Chinese descent, even though I was born in the United States. It is hard not to feel like a foreigner as I go through life.

My art is about redefining what being American means through cultural representation. I want to explore American culture through its differences, and I’m interested in understanding and depicting racial diversity, cultural histories and different cultural practices in the United States. I would like for people to relinquish their fear of the “other.” My art is about breaking barriers. 

-Alex Chiu

Website: alexdoodles.com

Instagram: @artbyalexchiu

Contact: art.alexchiu@yahoo.com

As an artist living in Oregon, the outdoors is a huge part of my life and strongly influences my work. We are always surrounded by gorgeous nature, no matter where you find yourself. I felt it was very important to highlight our native species and natural landmarks in the mural, as we all need to understand that our natural lands are beautiful and precious. I hope this mural will provide a subtle reminder to residents and visitors alike to appreciate and respect Oregon’s natural beauty.

As a child, I traveled regularly between upstate New York and Tokyo – my birthplace and my family’s home country – all the while growing up in the suburbs of Ohio. I grew up visually, socially and culturally fascinated and influenced by these different environments. However, the contrasting cultural atmospheres confused me as a child. It led me to not have a firm understanding as to where I belonged; and even more so, not knowing where to really call “home.” To this day, I internally battle as to where my actual home truly is.

I try to reflect on this feeling of displacement by taking an “outsider looking in” approach to my artwork. By combining elements of design and nature, I attempt to depict the relationship, energy and juxtaposition between nature and culture. I try to present the viewer with a sense of how I feel and see the world around me.

-Jeremy Nichols

Website: plasticbirdie.com

Instagram: @plasticbirdie

Contact: hello@plasticbirdie.com