November 4, 2020

Dear MECA&D Community,

Many of us had hoped that the outcome of the 2020 election would be known by now. As results continue to trickle in from across the country, however, we are now realizing that it may be days or even weeks before the winner is clear. It is not a surprise that this uncertainty has added to our collective and personal angst.

We can choose how we respond to what happens, even if we cannot choose what happens next. We can choose to recognize the role we play, and we can choose to embrace the power of our own agency. Throughout history, time and time again, we have seen progress in the face of adversity. We can choose to work together to change the future.

How do we do that? The answer to that question is in your hands. You have already chosen to move forward in a challenging situation by returning to college to pursue your dreams in the midst of global uncertainty. You have chosen to continue to express yourself through your creativity, your actions, and your work. You have chosen to take action to safeguard yourself and your community against the threat of COVID-19. And you have chosen to do all of this as part of the MECA&D community.

This semester at MECA&D, we have all learned that if we focus on each next step together and take things one day at a time, we can accomplish more than we thought we could. Not only have we created a community in which we have been able to safely continue our in-person classes and studio work, but the work of MECA&D students and alumni created in the midst of crisis is being seen throughout our building, throughout our city, and beyond. Inside MECA&D, the walls are filled with student art and our posters and zines have helped turn out the vote. Student work has been shown across the city of Portland and many MECA&D graduates have created posters and installations that have inspired people near and far during this pandemic. We have a lot to be proud of here. I hope we will all face our political future in the same way, focusing on one step at a time and using our voices to express ourselves.

There is no reason to be unclear about our path forward, even if the future of the country’s leadership may remain clouded in the fog of the post-election analysis. The challenges we face have been difficult, but they have also made it obvious just how important creativity and expression are to our communities. You don’t need to go to the studio and wait for inspiration to tell you what to do. Just begin to work, explore deeply, share what you know generously -- you are an artist, the results will come from within. Creativity is not easy and it is not an accident: it is the result of intentional thought, a willingness to experiment, and the hard work that got you here in the first place.

During times like these, we all need extra support. MECA&D has set up additional counseling, meditation, and conversation opportunities to make the journey you are facing less isolating. The faculty and staff are here to guide you through this uncertain time. And I can tell you with certainty that things will become clearer in the coming weeks -- whatever happens, we will forge a path forward together. Your education will go on and our diverse group of creative thinkers will continue to ask questions and pursue art that will make an impact and inspire change for the better.

Staying calm in the midst of this storm is very challenging, but fortunately, we have the privilege of facing it together. If you continue to express yourself and seek comfort in the community we have here, I can assure you that path will be a little easier. Our job is to live our lives, to do what we know how to do, to stay true to our personal values, and to try to work with people whose views may be the polar opposite of ours. We are on a journey together of listening and learning, exploring and creating, and through it, we will grow together.

At MECA&D we are committed to all artists and designers -- no matter who you are, where you came from, or what your goals are for the future. We are dedicated to fostering a culture of shared accountability, visibility, and collaborative success. The creative growth you experience through your art, within yourself, and in our culture has the power to provide fulfillment and internal peace. I urge you to continue to share, cherish, and challenge the methods and concepts used by artists and makers who came before you. I encourage you to draw from our unparalleled setting and the diversity of perspectives around you, to take risks, and to seize every opportunity to make your mark.

It has been said that you can’t advocate for something unless you can imagine it. The impact and meaning of art are the work of our imaginations. Imagine the world that you want to see, talk about it, dream it, visualize it, and then work to create it.

Remember that the MECA&D community is here for you. Together we can deepen our understanding of ourselves, each other, and ultimately the world around us. Through our work, we can connect to our own humanity and encourage those around us to pursue the meaningful changes that we need in our society.


Image: MECA&D students designed "Get Out the Vote" posters that were projected on Portland's City Hall last week while citizens lined up to vote. Featured work by Aressa Goodrich '22. Photography by Joel Tsui '16, Salt '17, MFA '19.