Special to The Oregonian By Cornelia Seigneur, Special to The Oregonian 
Published May 7, 2011 in the print edition of The Oregonian’s Portland Community Section
As Antoinette Edwards, the director of public safety and peacekeeping in Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ office, meandered through the packed gallery of the Imago Art Space during the preview event for the first annual Exile Poster Project, she reflected on the significance of art in her life.
“It is an expression of freedom for me,” Edwards said.

Martin French poses with Antoinette Edwards, the director of public safety and peacekeeping in Portland Mayor Sam Adams' office, at the preview of the Exile Poster Project

“Moving from the segregated South to here, my art teacher and mentor Eleanor Kafoury took me to art museums, inviting me into a larger art world than I had seen in my past. That is the beauty of art; it invites the conversations.”

Inviting conversations — and moving those conversations into action — is the hope behind the Exile Poster Project, which officially opened Thursday during the Pearl District’s “First Thursday” Gallery Walk.

Each year the Exile Poster Project will bring awareness to a different area of oppression and injustice in Portland through the medium of the poster. This year’s show features work from local artists who focused their creative expression on exposing the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

The Exile Poster Project is the brainchild of Martin French, an associate professor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where he formed a new BFA program in Illustration in 2005.

“The broad theme of exile was where the vision started. I wanted the project to somehow make contact with, and reach out to those who are lost in the fringes of the city,” said French, an award winning illustrator and designer whose client list includes Nike, Disney, and Time Warner.

French is a member of Imago Dei Community, the host of the Exile Poster Project.

Ken Weigel, Antoinette Edwards and Rick McKinley at the Exile Poster Project

Ken Weigel, the pastor of ministry development at Imago Dei, serves on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children steering committee, a Multnomah County task force addressing the various issues involved with child sex trafficking.

“At a meeting, I am hearing them say that art is a missing element as we raise awareness of this ongoing issue,” said Weigel, adding, “and at the same time, Martin was envisioning an Exile Poster Project. It all came together perfectly.”

Joslyn Baker, a collaboration specialist for the Multnomah County Department of Community Justicewho leads the community response for eradicating the sexual exploitation of children in Multnomah County, said, “It went from ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have this art,’ to literally, two months later, something in action.”

“It makes it visual for people, showing the innocence of these children who should be out playing,” said Baker. “Imago Dei is such a strong partner, and other churches they bring to the table working on this.”

And Edwards was so impacted by the project that she has requested it be moved to City Hall. Weigel said the show may also move to the State Capitol as well.

Inspiring to action is the ultimate goal. To that end, various sizes of the posters are for sale, with the proceeds to benefit the Sexual Assault Resource Center.

Said Weigel, “With the purchasing of the art, you get to go beyond being aware of it to doing something.”

And, French added, “I believe art can have a dynamic effect on making positive change in the city.”


Exile Poster Project
Imago Art Space
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
512 NW 9th Avenue, Portland

Original story also found online at The Oregonian’s websitehttp://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/05/the_first_exile_poster_project.html

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