In an effort to showcase the diversity of our region, highlight the Port of Portland's commitment to equity and take a fresh approach to art in the airport, "A Place Called Home" was created in partnership with the Portland Street Art Alliance and two local artists: Alex Chiu and Jeremy Nichols.
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 hope that travelers and residents alike see this work as a celebration of community, inclusion and the sense of home we feel at PDX.
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.
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 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.
Created by Portland artists Jeremy Nichols and Alex Chiu, "A Place Called Home" showcases the diversity of our communities and citizens while taking a fresh approach to art in the airport. Learn more about the mural, created as a partnership between the Port of Portland and the Portland Street Art Alliance.