In summer 2019, Tualatin Valley Creates launched the Arts and Culture Leadership Incubator, a unique program designed to support the growth of a thriving, inclusive cultural and creative environment in Washington County, OR.
A panel of industry professionals selected five individuals from a diverse pool of applicants. Artists Natalie Davis-Eltahir, Lindsey Holcomb, Emily Miller, Kendrick Payton, and Arturo Villasenor went on to participate in a series of workshops – part-leadership development and part-business incubator – that aimed to challenge, inspire, empower and motivate.
Led by a four-member faculty team, a central goal of the program was to empower bold arts and culture leaders from traditionally underrepresented populations in the region. The faculty members formed deep connections over the six-month program through peer networking, mentorship, and learning.
The selected Washington County-based artists joined the cohort from a broad range of mediums, styles, and purposes. They are diverse both in terms of where they are in their careers as well as the types of projects they’re working to advance.
Natalie Davis-Eltahir designs and creates her own headwraps and provides services to women who are experiencing hair loss due to health issues.
“You have leaders that are facilitating the workshop that are extremely compassionate about other artists and their work,” Natalie said, reflecting on her experience in the program.
Also inspired by people’s health journeys, Lindsey Holcomb developed #colorsofMS, a project in which she colorfully paints black-and-white MRI images from multiple sclerosis patients to create a new narrative around the diagnosis.
“Being a part of the TVC leadership art incubator has been just an utterly invaluable experience to my personal practice as an artist,” Lindsey said. “It’s really easy to feel like you’re creating art in a silo as a working artist. It’s just been a great experience to bounce ideas off others, have mentorship opportunities, and think of ways you approach your own art in a different frame. I’m going to miss it.”
Emily Miller, another artist selected to participate, is a full-time working visual artist at Pacific University, focusing on transitioning her interactive installation “Ghost Net Landscape” from an exhibit to a community-engagement organization.
“I’ve spent my whole life near the coast, and all my artwork is involved with the richness and mystery of the ocean,” she said. “I’m excited to work with new vendors, funders and local cultural and industry groups to connect and learn with new communities.”
Digital artist Kendrick Payton is exploring how to publish and sell his graphic novels while fostering opportunities for publishing for people of color. “What I enjoy most about the Incubator is I’m surrounded by like-minded artists that all have their own process that can help you with yours, and vice versa,” he said.
After working for many years with social justice non-profit organizations in Washington County, Arturo Villasenor, a visual artist and international curator focusing on traditional Latinx craftswork, is using his deep understanding about barriers to arts access by curating travelling exhibitions. “The main idea is to bring art to the community,” he explained, “to people who don’t usually go to museums or galleries.”
The culminating event of the program, a showcase of the artists’ work, was originally scheduled as a celebratory gathering. TVC has adapted that programming in response to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The participant’s artworks and business plans will be now featured in a Digital Showcase, Creativity Lives Here, May 25-29, 2020.
Visit our 2020 Arts and Culture Leadership Incubator Showcase page to learn more about each of the artists and their work www.tvcreates.org/showcase-2020 and follow the showcase on social media with #tvcreates.