Enjoy reading about the wonderful community that has developed around this annual event.
Artist in Residence Announcement: Rebecca Shapiro, Untangled Creator
Artist in Residence,
Sometimes, in the pursuit of doing what we love, we uncover a deeper truth about ourselves. Maybe, through the pursuits in which we try hardest, we are able to unravel ourselves, examine what’s left, build something new with the basic pieces of you, and thus unload unwanted baggage that life inevitably makes us check. Rebecca Shapiro knows all too well that the unexamined contents of your proverbial carryon can get you wound up tight. That’s why she has spent the last year discovering the tangles that have enveloped her life, and undoing them by making art.
Each year TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) features a new artist who designs our stage art. In 2011 artist Blaine Fontana created a wooden backdrop, salvaged from demolished houses, and in 2012 artist Crystal Schenk created a backlit Aurora Borealis inspired set during the peak of the eleven year solar cycle. The planning team knew we needed someone who could capture “velocity”, this year’s theme, in the design of our set, so we sought out an artist whose work seemed to emanate kinetic energy. Inspired by Tantric art that she was studying at the time, Rebecca discovered she had an interest in the universal art form of the spiral. While drawing spirals ironically served to help Rebecca uncoil her life’s tangles, seeing her drawings confirmed that she could convey what our theme this year is all about. “I use velocity to measure the speed and direction of movement in my life,” says Rebecca, “If things have slogged down, there’s a knot somewhere that deserves my attention and needs to be untangled, unwound, unbound.”
Becoming bogged down by life’s tangles is the result of cognitive dissonance that is created by messages that come from family, society and culture, but resonate as incongruities in one’s mind once one realizes that they no longer identify with such messages. “The freedom to explore, go places, and consider ourselves without judgment requires us to unwind ourselves,” explains Rebecca. She has been very self-aware to discover solutions to her own tangled identities through doing what she loves, and it has left her free to continue to work creatively, and inspire others. “I do think that life gets tangled around our feet and for me, creating a metaphor for the stories, beliefs and behaviors that aren’t true to myself and using the detritus to create art is the way out.”
After having to articulate her vision for the stage art that would be featured at TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) 2013, Rebecca was the recipient of a large project grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC). Having received grants before, including a professional development grant, Rebecca is no stranger to the process, but since her focal mediums are in the visual arts, she always enjoys the challenge of a proposal. “I have to put into words what my work is about, so even when I don’t get an award, the process is really valuable,” says Rebecca, “It takes my work to a new level.”
Like many of us, Rebecca is many things. She is a successful artist in the painting, illustration, installation, and photography mediums. She’d rather not be labeled as just one thing because she is truly a creative thinker. Being of service is of the utmost importance to Rebecca, which is why she has committed to pick a charity each year to donate her time and talents to. In addition she is a dedicated artist, mother, friend and entrepreneur.
As TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) 2013 nears, Rebecca is busy making what will undoubtedly be a brilliant stage installation for our stage. Without divulging too much information, there are nine items being painted that will be displayed, each having its own unique features. We will gain momentum with our newly found, unbound enthusiasm as we hear from Rebecca at our big event on March 23rd. We’re excited to have such a talented artist working on our stage design and to see the end product!
Hunter Brookshier is a Portland, Oregon, based writer, marketer and musician. He’s passionate about grassroots communal organization and he loves the free market of ideas that TED and TEDx events and media help to spread. He’s thrilled to be part of this year’s TEDxConcordiaUPortland planning team. He’s one of several storytellers who will be sharing write-ups, interviews, and perspectives on the many extraordinary people from our surrounding community.