unmasced
       
     
brown boy feelings
       
     
recolonizing space
       
     
       
     
7
       
     
our eyes
       
     
the orchard
       
     
smile
       
     
black reality
       
     
it
       
     
the black bringers
       
     
privilege and the young, human mind
       
     
the black woman's betrayal
       
     
a vessel
       
     
black bringers
       
     
eyes; future and past
       
     
       
     
#collegeprep - 2018 Changing Destinies Luncheon

I wrote this piece as a response to my college prep experience at De La Salle, at our annual fundraiser. “Dreams are images our mind creates, but we wonder if they are valid.”


       
     
a letter to my son, march for our lives

After being asked to help plan and coordinate Portland's March for Our Lives with other great student leaders, I wrote this piece as a letter to our future children, "who will not have to March For their Lives." 

       
     
masks

'Beauty is more than skin deep.' When your skin does not reflect the status quo, finding your sense of beauty is a constant fight for personal acceptance-- a constant practice of restorative justice.

unmasced
       
     
unmasced

+Portland Winter Lights Festival 

unmasced is an interactive installation to spark a conversation about how people see/accept notions of gender norms, and gender associated behavior. unmasced interrogates what it means to be: a "man" or a "woman." 


The collaborative installation created with the Open Signal and the digital brand and product innovation company Instrument, for the Portland Winter Lights Festival. 
 

 

brown boy feelings
       
     
brown boy feelings

a true passion project, Brown Boy Feelings lent time, space and dialogue to discuss the pressures boys of color face, in pursuit of being a 'man.' 

http://pica.org/event/brown-boy-feelings/

recolonizing space
       
     
recolonizing space

+Intersect Fest, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art

Space is integral to our understanding of self: the way we feel, are seen, perceived and physically fit into a space are all informed by history, time and geography. As a Portland native, who has seen the displacement of entire communities of color in North and Northeast Portland it has been a true hope and intention of mine to one time see and be apart of the cultural liveliness that once was. I wanted to speak to the gentrification of the Albina neighborhood and provide what it would look like if blacks took back that space.

The background imagery are structures and institutions that are historically white spaces: Harvard University, Columbia University, Georgetown University, and the United States Capitol Building; as well as neighborhoods in Portland that have been gentrified or historically white: the Pearl, the Albina neighborhood, Downtown Portland and the Mississippi District. Spurred on by the inspiration of the Portland Art Museum’s, Constructing Identity exhibition, I collected photographs of artists from Kara Walker to Archie Smith. This photographs of their art are intermixed with visuals of black faces: friends and family. I have drawn inspiration and insights from these professional artists, companions and the experimental work of Miles Davis, whose song Bitches Brew, is set in the background, serving as a symbolic recolonization of jazz and rock music from its historic black roots.

Visuals are fundamental means to articulating thought. Audio augments these visuals in constructing these realities. Objects bring this abstraction into the physicality of the world.

 

installation

+on the ground: photographs, toys, symbols and memories in front of video

+background music: Bitches Brew, Miles Davis

 

       
     
White Noise

in a silent film created by two close collaborators, the filmmakers take on abstraction, silence and emotion with a creative lens.

7
       
     
7

I stare so deep

Who are you?

Who am I?

Can you tell me?

I dream in and out

Subconscious racked with things

I never wanted

love, hurt and happiness

 

Make out to me the things they can't see

Breathe, breathe, hope to dream

Dream to be and to be is all I dream

Beat this life, one to two, two to three,

Three and four, love me blinded

 

Whole and known

You find your soul, the things I will never know

 

Free the life

Higher and higher we go until the sky reaches infinity

Infinite as 7.

our eyes
       
     
our eyes

She dragged on,

limped strides,

banded wrists,

told stories of

demented times

where heroes lacked

identity,

turned blind to her needs

lied truths that

could have been

avoided with compassion

lended hands that

served like bandaids

to wounds so tarnished

her soul bled cries of

joy,

wrote signs with broken fingers,

to catch the attention

I never could grant her,

submerged waters

washed clean the

stigmas of how

we could never give her a chance,

a sister that mothered

truth and moral

and people that fostered

greed and deception,

Forever she may be lost

From all that could come

the orchard
       
     
the orchard

We ran

through the orchard

you

                             slipped,

knee scraped,

but the reality was the

                                        disappearance

of your

                         love

Gone

 

                   How I fell

                   We became

                   the trees that swang

                   until the disappearance

                   became reappearance

                   as a reflection

We

            r

                    a

                            n

smile
       
     
smile

What lies behind that smile?

 

The trapped spirit of one wishing to live?

 

Is it the angel of happiness? Her prey being the joy of pleasing her young

 

Is it the nymph of laughter?

Filling like a balloon of inhibitions and insecurities of oneself.

Teething like the infant it is.

 

Behind those eyes lie love

a love that is waiting to bloom,

waiting to grow and thrive

 

Behind that smile is a person waiting to be freed of a life long gone

 

Behind that glow is the possibility of love.

black reality
       
     
black reality

I cry out

In a dream,

Trapped among

Double face

Masked creatures

With expressions

Soaked in effervescent

virtues

tainted deeply

my soul

destroyed from people who

meant love

yet such happiness is still,

Without movement,

Dormant as if stalled

In a world full of joy,

I find security in the negativity

That paints pictures of lies

Framed with unlawful propaganda,

I asked to be saved from this reality

yet my heroes are my captors,

trapping me here so I may live

believing what I am told,

My thoughts are drowned

In seas of my own tears,

I remain as a fragment of a reality

twistedly, sweet

I become its fellow companion,

May we never escape

I shall have some sort of love

it
       
     
it

We sat in solace,

kissed with bitter lips,

consumed breaths ,

oceans wide,

leaping thighs ran cross avenues  

spilt through woods of roads

engulfed with deathly needle

and yet that is you,

a crippled mind, lost in a body you’ve known eternity,

plagued with unkindly spirits,

eating away at all that is left,

from what you knew as true,

inevitable, its demise is impossible,

you try to rid it,

find comfort in poisons listed ‘help’

but you can not help what you can not rid yourself,

I could not judge i was more guilty than you,

We knew but could not stop

what was meant to be

 

the black bringers
       
     
the black bringers

taken,

gone,

And disappeared,

 

they came running to me,

whispered so sweet,

it felt a treat,

to for once know me.

 

passed down,

these figures,

knew unlocked secrets,

knew names and forsake nothing,

demanded me to be uncompared,

delivered a power so rich,

 

consumed,

they floated,

so human and godly,

they resembled everything i knew to be bad,

and in that i knew they were my god,

my black bringers,

 

--awake.

privilege and the young, human mind
       
     
privilege and the young, human mind

a flow of consciousness,

disrupts my happiness

and i sit pretending that this is normal

 

my place in this world so singular

no other knows it

wondering what gave me the right to exist

To live and be in such tranquility,

In a time of such hostility

 

lost, unknowing and yet I am known,

they all see me but can not feel me

streaming blindly, each thought devouring my psyche

unsettled and continually pondering,

i am losing

 

wondering, pondering, questioning and question,

where is where?

and within here is nowhere.

the black woman's betrayal
       
     
the black woman's betrayal

In her eyes,

She died that night.

-----

Surrounded and surmounted,

Suffocated and succumbed,

So diligently, she covered her nightly skin,

Every freckle like a star in the sky

And every bruise, a constellation.

Configurations of dark circle,

Enclosed her eyes.

And roses peered out of her fingertips,

Thorns forged from years of clipping and cultivation.

And leaves crowned her head,

With a tilted chin,

Heightened walk and

Hypnotic swaying,

Her body became a willow,

The willow that holds her son,

From rope built by men.

The willow that delivered

Young women, that saw their bodies,

As night skies, ashamed to be forever bleak,

The willow that uplifted the prophets and

Rooted the angels.

And with an unwavering slash,

Her sons, daughters, prophets and angels,

Cut every knitting of her biblically caressed hide,

Smoked every bee that constructed the hive within her heart

Captured every mystical butterfly cocooning in her ribcage

Sawed off each branch that connected every soul.

The sacrificial black sheep,

Her herd deserted her and the shepherd

Released her.

-----

In her mind,

We survived that morning.

a vessel
       
     
a vessel

You came in and the world stopped

My eyes neared end

My heart stopped and I looked so deep into you

I lost it within you

I gave it to you

And you bore me every love that could feel this heart

Every smile so kindred

A mess I stare back and see that you free me from me

You unleash the pieces that fragment, contract and

Stargaze

Display every safety and outshine every hope,

The dream that never made it through

I learn from you

You teach and speak

Captivated. Entirely we must grow

Grow in this

Never allow it to stagnate

To fester. But to build,

Peer out into this world

Blossom and open its mouth wide to softly take it all in

To bear something new

Continue a cycle

A metamorphosis

Each cocoon a lesson

Every butterfly

A new me

                                         I have come to love,

                                         Me.

black bringers
       
     
black bringers

taken,

gone,

And disappeared,

 

they came running to me,

whispered so sweet,

it felt a treat,

to for once know me.

 

passed down,

these figures,

knew unlocked secrets,

knew names and forsake nothing,

demanded me to be uncompared,

delivered a power so rich,

 

consumed,

they floated,

so human and godly,

they resembled everything i knew to be bad,

and in that i knew they were my god,

my black bringers,

 

--awake.

eyes; future and past
       
     
eyes; future and past

Face me.

A reflection and mirror blend so well

A face reminds me of me.

But how do we see ourselves?

Do we search in light of what we are told,

Fat, ugly, gay, stupid, black, dirty, poor.

Are our eyes truly ours or the instruments

Of social influence?

Can we truly look into a reflection and Turn from me.

Know it to be us. Can you see?

How do I know its me. Your vision is no longer with eyes wide

What if I lie so where far over there Rather eyes turned,

And nowhere in between? Eyes alive,

Does this reflection display me a truth, Moving and fresh

Or rather gratify me a lie? Harboring no bias or influence

What do we know? To the world in front,

Are we thinking? Are our thoughts ours or Freeing itself of any constraint to order

The accumulation of others, Disrupting the structure

Made manifest in our lives? Searching and not looking

Seeking and not seeing

How powerful the world behind us?

With shadows and lessons and experiences

A past, no pass.

A past, so clear

A future open to us all

One my eyes can see.

                                                                                      Sonu Okan