Living in Portland can feel like living in a homogenous bubble: another coffee shop with white tile and minimalist decor, another magazine spread featuring only white women, another new business marketing luxury and convenience instead of accessibility. When we normalize these patterns, we continue to overlook the people and art that exist outside of these parameters.
As we move into the season of buying, please consider where your money is going. Who are you supporting? As activism and social consciousness become more "fashionable," understand that buying "feminist" branded merchandise from a boutique is not the same as giving your money to queer POC artists.
Sashi is a burst of color in a whitewashed town— an example of artists we should actively be seeking to support. As a queer, chronically ill POC, the battle to exist in a capitalist-driven market is exponentially more challenging. If you can't give your money to these artists, sharing their work is free. The more visibility they have in the media, the more likely they can survive with their art (and their art can survive, too).
Name: Sashiko Yuen aka Wishcandy
Pronouns: They/ Them, Space Bae, Cuddleboi, prince (lower p, not to be confused w/ the great Prince)
Background: Black/ Asian/ Latinx, Queer, Non-binary, Ex-East Coaster
Astrological sign: Liiibraa sun, Libra rising, Aries moon ;)
Medium of choice: Watercolor and crushed souls
Karaoke jam: Dang, only one? Spiderwebs by No Doubt
Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: My favorite memory is having a Maryland friend come visit, and taking off to travel Oregon in a camper van for a week. Hiking, exploring caves, ocean, volcanoes, lakes, fresh air, petting horses, but also driving past the forest on fire near Crater Lake. I had no idea all of these things were all in one state. Was really refreshing to clear my head and stay offline.
Then be excited to come home, eat a real meal, and see more friends. I know this memory isn't centered in Portland, but the best thing about the town is leaving it. Then being excited to come back and spend time with my loved ones here.
Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: This past summer has been one of the most difficult times here. My dizziness and exhaustion was at its worst. I was sleeping around 16 hours a day. And when I was awake, I was barely able to sit up for more than a few minutes at a time.
I kept getting invited to the beach or to go dancing but I didn't have the health to do any of that. We talk about how important self care is, but we don't talk about how self care for the chronically ill leads to isolation. My mental health wasn't so great either, while trying to find sources and solutions. My doctors are still confused by it all too.
How do you stay inspired in Portland? This city isn't personally an inspiring place for me. I feel creatively starved here. That's hard to admit. The art scene is lacking diversity in representation and who is actually creating. Of course diverse creators exist but it doesn't seem like they're being supported in this town. If you have a certain style and can adapt to a monoculture you'll do well here.
If it weren't for my QPOC community I would have left shortly after I arrived. They bring warmth to my life and helping create the community I'm in has been nourishing on a personal level. But these exact ppl remind me I need to go live my life.
How can Portland support you and/or your community? Honestly? Buy things from us, come to our shows, invite us to participate in events, advocate for us to be paid. Share our work with your friend circles, especially those who wouldn't normally be exposed to our work. Amplify our voices on social media by sharing/ regram/ retweet. Did I mention, pay us?
See more of Sashi's work on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and their website wishcandy.net.
Portland in Color is a self-funded project. If you enjoyed this feature, please consider donating to keep the series going.