The photographer who spearheaded a striking photo series of North Portland and Central Oregon has been selected as Portland’s first ever Creative Laureate. Mayor Sam Adams announced the position Friday night at an arts advocacy fundraiser. He says, not unlike the state’s Poet Laureate or similar honors, the Creative Laureate will take an advocacy role, and engage the city in conversations about the arts, education, and creative industries.
Adams’ designee, photographer Julie Keefe, says she’s excited to get started.
“We haven’t had any formal meetings yet,’ Keefe cautioned, “but it’s going to be a liaison between business, arts and education. I am passionate about the city of Portland and very much children and education.”
Keefe started a project called Hello, Neighbor, which sent middle school students out with cameras to their neighborhoods in Portland, Madras, and other towns. Their black-and-white photos were reproduced as large posters in the neighborhoods from which they came.
Keefe also worked for many years as a photojournalist for the Skanner, a community paper that covers Portland, with a focus on African-American communities.
She says she wants to use her new position to advocate for middle school arts education, and try to start a conversation about reviving Jefferson High as an arts magnet school.