In the time COVID-19, Leila Haile and Joaquin Lopez, Portland, Oregon’s newest Creative Laureates, are focused on healing, especially for BIPOC and queer communities. They talk with Douglas Detrick about how they became artists and why, how artists can heal themselves, and how artists can offer healing experiences to their audiences.
About the guests
Leila Haile was born in San Francisco, and has been in Portland, OR for the last 15 years. They spent the last four curating space for Queer, and Trans communities effected by white supremacy to host exhibitions, art programming, political education, and direct action through Ori Gallery. After running an independent tattoo practice for the past 6 years, I joined Constellation Tattoo Collective in the summer of 2020, focusing on communities excluded from tattooing because of colonization, misogynoir, and ableism.
Joaquin Lopez is a performing artist and counselor whose work is grounded in personal transformation, self-expression, and Latino Queer identity. He holds a passion for producing cultural events that honor Latin American heritage and Latino Gay culture. In June of 2019, he released UNIVERSO, an electro-pop album that pays homage to his coming-of-age as a gay man. As an actor and performer, he has worked with theatre companies: Milagro, Sowelu, Hand2Mouth Theatre, BagNBaggage, WP Theater in New York, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Welcome to More Devotedly, a podcast for people who see the arts as a force for positive, progressive change. I’m Douglas Detrick. This is Volume V, episode 5.
I keep doing this podcast because the conversations it allows me to have are enlightening, surprising, and satisfying in a way that I never can fully anticipate. After I became a parent, I found that these types of deep, long conversations about how art works in the world were much more rare in my life, and therefore more precious. In a world that so often rewards the people who talk the loudest, I find value in being a person who listens.
It’s not what I thought I find when I started this podcast two years ago, but I’ve found that the most valuable experiences have been the times I was moved to understand how different, sometimes deeply and profoundly different my experiences have been compared to some of my guests. This interview, with Leila Haile and Joaquin Lopez, is another of these, perhaps one of the most extremely so.
Leila and Joaquin were appointed just a few months ago as Portland’s co-Creative Laureates. You can listen back to my interview from September 2020 with Subashini Ganesan, who was Creative Laureate prior to Joaquin and Leila, for more information about the history of the Creative Laureate position and her approach to it.
For those of you that don’t know, Leila Haile is a queer activist, organizer, dancer and tattoo artist based in Portland, OR, who has organized space for queer artists at Ori Gallery. Joaquin Lopez is a musician, actor, writer and counselor whose work is grounded in personal transformation, self-expression, and Latino Queer identity. They are the third iteration of the Creative Laureate position, and the first to be selected as a group, rather than an individual.
Rather than talking in detail, or even in broad strokes about projects they are planning, Leila and Joaquin wanted to focus this interview on the idea of healing. Healing from what? The pandemic is of course top of mind, but there’s much more. They’re talking about traumas great and small that they’ve experienced as queer people of color and have seen others in that community experience. All together, those experiences add up to a lot of pain concentrated in members of a small community.
As I engage to the best of my ability in conversations like this, what I’m hoping to achieve is to broaden my own understanding of the human experience, and to offer the same opportunity to my listeners. So, my advice to you, no matter what your personal background, is to do two things as you listen.
First, think gently and compassionately about times that you’ve experienced hurt, rejection, prejudice, or worse. And no matter who you are, you have experienced them to some degree. This is part of being human.
Next, use the emotions that arise to connect yourself to this conversation, to see and hear yourself in it, even though you’re just listening to it as you walk your dog, or do your dishes, or whatever it is you’re doing right now. You can listen as a participant in this conversation, not just as a bystander.
Your own experiences may be very different, or you might personally relate to what Leila and Joaquin are talking about. Either way, this conversation is an open door into the thinking of two artists as they prepare to take on this leadership role. Enjoy hearing the questions they are asking themselves and each other, and how those questions will make it possible to chart a course that could achieve their goals.
Here’s the episode.
Douglas Detrick: Joaquin Lopez and Leila Haile, Portland creative laureates just beginning in this new position, welcome to more devotedly. I’m really excited to talk to you guys. And I know that we’ve got a lot to talk about. But I wanted to kind of start with a super basic question to both of you how did each of you become an artist and why have you kept doing it?
Leila Haile: I come from a family of artists. I don’t know anyone, who doesn’t have some sort of creative outlet in my family. So it was just always natural to like have art materials around and be creative and just do the thing. I got into tattooing because I saw someone who had had like a double mastectomy cover-up, and I was like, this is so amazingly beautiful, what an amazing way for someone to take back control and agency of their body. I have to do this. I’m I’m drawn to this. Yeah, I feel like I’m very collaborative and all of my practice you know, it gets me jazzed to be working on. Other dancer, working with another tattoo artists, you know, another illustrator. , but other organizers, someone who can give you that gestalt, we are more than the sum of our parts, energy.
Douglas Detrick: Very cool. How about you?
Joaquin Lopez: Yeah. You know similarly there was music in the house. My dad played the guitar. I remember him playing guitar when we were kids. He would futz around with a little electronic organ, and there was always music around. My parents were part of the chorus at St. Patrick’s church in Northwest Portland. And, my dad even wrote songs for some grupetto groups, music bands here in the area, and even had like a minor hit color, how Ariana and so I just remember just music always being around and being a part of my life.
Douglas Detrick: Yeah.
Joaquin Lopez: And I followed, the thread because I love it. I love music and love being creative.
Douglas Detrick: so each of you took this step applying for. Portland Creative Laureate position. I would love for each of you to talk about why did you see yourself being this person? Why did you take that step to apply for this?
Joaquin Lopez: I’ll be really honest. It was bold naivete, you know, I love diving into new territories. I love the idea that there’s a connection to the city. I love the idea that our honor for the work that we’ve done and that we get support to continue to work on our platform.
You know, I thought it was a really great opportunity. And How cool would it be to have been the Creative Laureate, especially in the early years of this Creative Laureate role. I thought it’d be really cool. And I just, part of me felt ready, you know? And I’ve some conversation at this friends it’s like, yeah, it’s, you’re ready. feels good. And that’s why, that’s why I did it. And I want to make an impact and continue making an impact. Cause I love moving people and inspiring people. Like that’s, that’s what really moves me and makes me happy.
Douglas Detrick: How about you, Leila?
Leila Haile: I feel a lot of the same. I was like, there was a lot of that readiness feeling. It was like, oh, I’m not nobody. I could, I could maybe do this and step up that, and the encouragement of about six of my different friends forwarding me the application and encouraging me to apply. I was like, all right, I can’t put this on imposter syndrome.
I actually get to like, say that I am good enough to apply, you know? And I was really intimidated because I considered like, you know, our previous laureates. One of my community mentors, like watching her move through community, the way that she has and build what she has built. I, you know, I’ve been in awe, but like, I want to be like that someday.
So it was very much, you know an honor to have the privilege, to be able to have the opportunity to apply. Especially, because I was very worried about, you know, you mentioned earlier, you know, we’re not quite government where we are and I’m in a special position where I am government. Like I also have like a full time paid position with the city in addition to this volunteer position.
So I’ve been very much like, how do I do this right? Is there a right way to do this? You know, how do I hold this responsibility in this power and this access in a way that it’s, you know, conducive to collective liberation, can it be done? So I’m very much going through the stages right now, where I’m just like talking to a lot of folks in the community and like asking to talk to other organizers who share similar identities, you know, other artists who you know, have, have a big claim in Portland and have like, you know, that reach, I’m talking to a lot of folks about like, you know, what, what can we do?
What is possible if there’s a big move that we can make right now? What is that? So that’s very much, you know, how I’m approaching both like the application and now, now the responsibility,
Douglas Detrick: Since you’re new, you’re just kind of getting started. I’m wondering if you came into this with a vision of what you were hoping to achieve. I’m actually curious already if it started to change, if it started to evolve a bit you know, so, so like, as you mentioned it’s a volunteer position, and I know that there are, there are some like resources you can command from the city, but I also know that it’s, it’s also a bit about just an organizing position and it’s kind of a rallying position.
But so let’s talk about that. I would love for you each to. You know, or, or kind of to collaborate on, you know, what is your vision for this? As you know, duo Portland Creative Laureates.
Leila Haile: Well, I feel like it’s something that we’ve both expressed is that, you know, we really want to create space for like healing and processing. Cause that’s something we haven’t really gotten, mid pandemic at any point, we haven’t gotten time to like, acknowledge that there’s been a massive amount of death we’ve had, we’re still in the middle of this thing, you know, on top of the fires on top of everything else.
There’s just so much that we haven’t had a chance to like hold space for and process. It’s just been organized, organized, organized, survive, survive, survive, you know, not like we weren’t in that position in the first place pre pandemic, but now it’s like eight fold. Right. And there’s so much pressure. And I feel like a lot a lot of what I’ve seen is necessary and that we both expressed is that like you’re pulling the brakes a little bit, like creating space for like us to be like, whew. You know, I get that out, do what we need to do communally like how we do that as Africans, how we do that as you know, folks who are part of various diasporas just getting that time to like a, of all figure out what the hell is going on. Be involved like the heel a little bit. Maybe try to put some antibiotic on the wound that’s still open, you know, keep it from getting worse, maybe.
And then like really just touch base with folks like. Collaborate any, oh, I think we both have, there’s a Venn diagram overlap in what we want to get done. And we also have very different skill sets on the other sides of that. I think that’s, what’s beautiful about having co-Laureates is that like no, neither of us is super pressured and we all get to shine in our own ways and like work collaboratively and get more money out of the city.
Douglas Detrick: Right. I really appreciate , that conceptual just kind of framework that you’ve offered, like this idea of healing and kind of recognizing, you know, pain that people are experiencing now have experienced. And I it’ll be really cool to talk more about what that might look like. I think that’s, that’s always the hard question. Right? What does this stuff look like?
But Joaquin, why don’t you, could you add to that a little bit about your, your part and like maybe where you overlap and where maybe you, you see yourself going off on your own a little bit more too.
Leila Haile: I think both Leila and I have our own full lives creatively, personally. Right. And this is the first time we’ve met each other. I think we’ve met once in person and we’ve done these interviews and each time we do an interview, I feel closer to Leila and it’s really cool. So I’m really, really enjoying getting to know Leila and getting to know their art form, their personality. The onboarding has been really really slow and careful. Right. We entered the world in this whirlwind in early July. And things are slowing down now. And now that we’re slowly getting onboarded and knowing each other, I feel like I’m finally able to kind of land and not get so caught up in the noise of, Ooh, now your Creative Laureates, what are you gonna do? What are you going to do? What are you gonna do? Right.
And I’m like, okay, Let’s put some perspective here, right. About our roles. So that’s where I’m at now and how I’m looking forward to supporting us both in this process. Specifically my hope is that maybe within the month that later, and I can maybe get together and have dinner or coffee again, if they agree. But Yeah. I think that’s. Yeah.
If we don’t go on lock down again. Shit.
Douglas Detrick: Yeah.
Leila Haile: Yeah, speaking to that, I feel like something we can really offer is not only our desire for like healing spaces and for like transformative arts spaces for our community, but also like a legit mouthpiece to clap back. Because I don’t know, there’s a lot, there’s a lot of power at the city that isn’t being spoken to directly. And sometimes those folks don’t listen, unless you have an organized front of people who draw really cute pictures, and can make banners and do all those things, right. To send like a direct message and really get our communities where we need to be.
I’m personally excited about seeing like the overlap of arts and social services. Cause I’ll be honest as a government employee, our government is failing us very, very hard and we cannot undo these systems of white supremacy fast enough to save all the lives we need to save.
So, you know, we’re going to save us. And I feel like my, my goal at this point in the pandemic, in the wildfires and everything is to keep people alive. Just to organize artists so that, you know, people have air conditioners and respirators and food and, you know, the things that they need to, you know, keep on another day.
It doesn’t feel like we’re going to come out of survival mode anytime soon. So I feel like our greatest challenge is like, how do we survive and heal at the same time? Is that a thing? Can those be done, like concurrently? Let’s try.
Douglas Detrick: Yeah, we’ll find out. I mean, we have to, we have a lot of work to do there.
As we were preparing for this and talking about our outline, how can the arts community in Portland be addressing houselessness? That’s that was one thing. To support BIPOC artists and communities in general. And also, you added another bit to the end of that sentence that I thought was like, oh boy, that’s, that’s a big one. But you said responding to the general state of affairs in the world.
And I was like, oh yeah, that’s, let’s get that done. But I appreciate that. Because like Leila said, there’s tons of work to do. And, that’s what we need is that kind of spirit. feel free to kind of just talk to each other kind of from this point, if you guys want to, and, and if you need extra prodding, I will be happy to prod, but I’d be happy for you guys to kind of just talk to each other and ask each other a bit about, you know, you know, kind of starting with that idea of supporting these vulnerable, vulnerable communities and how the arts can interface with that and how the two of you might be able to use your leadership to help make that happen.
Leila Haile: Yeah, the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that like, there’s, there’s no separation between artists and like all these communities we’re trying to help Right? Like also those people are artists. Like there are a lot of houseless people who are artists. And I think that’s a big, yeah, that’s a big like misnomer that I think gets to me a lot.
As people assume that there aren’t also artists who are, you know, have these oppressed identities that we’re fighting for equality for. And that’s like a bummer, like, cause like we’re really varied, right? We’re such like a wildly diverse community. And I feel like we get pigeon-holed a lot as I’m like, oh, you’re a painter or a graphic designer or a photographer or a musician, but none of those can overlap with anything else.
Does it make sense? Because most of the people who are cooking your food are not only cooking your food. Right? Like they’re probably like artists. Y’all know about like the starving, starving actor, waitress phenomenon, right? Like that doesn’t exist for no reason. We’re out here working. We have been working, right.
Douglas Detrick: Yeah, absolutely.
Joaquin Lopez: You know about social justice and the intersection creativity or the arts and the community. I had a really fun experience when I was the manager of arts and culture at Latino Network. I learned that we have to not only fight against the current narratives out in the world right now at this moment, right.
As we’re seeing, but we actually need to start with the youth. And if we can, with the parents what I saw in some of my programs were for example, in the dance program the Ballet Folklorico, there were youth ages, probably like five, 15 or something. And they were really into the dance and there was so up to rehearsal and we had a really strict dancer and they really like, like grew a lot.
Many of them, their grades improved, many of them just found new friends and they had discipline. Right. And I also saw that the parents were really involved. And when I saw the parents really involved and I would talk to them, I’m like, why are you so involved? And they would say for them, seeing their kid in this cultural art form really gives them a lot of solace because they see their kid in the public school system and they don’t feel a lot of solace because it’s unfamiliar to them. So I think this effort to be really want to make social change, we’ve really got to start with the youth and expand their minds and support them and inspire them to like, you know, think differently from the very beginning so that when they become adults, they’re flexible.
They’re sponge-like and they’re not rigid. Right. And get the parents on board too. That’s how I see like, kind of going in and making an impact as, as well as the impact of going against the, the social narratives that are part of our construct in the, just in the, ether right now that we see on the Facebooks and the social media and all that kind of stuff.
Right. Cause we’ve got to battle that, but this other thing I think has to also need some attention, Leila I’m interested about the impact that Ori gallery had on the artists and the people that attended.
Leila Haile: Hopefully positive. Um,
you mean right now we still, we have an artist in residence still. And we don’t super have plans to open back up to the public because of COVID soon, but we do have some folks who are, you know, experimenting with like, what does a hybrid exhibition look like? What does an online exhibition look like? So I feel like, you know, they’re still having a strong impact on community just by still being there and still like providing a space for artists to create. And at the very least, you know, a hub that folks can refer to for like resources and community.
I mean right now, I feel like we’ve done a good job of like creating a leadership pipeline because both Maya and I are stepping back as main staff and moving to a board position where we can then support other folks who are coming up in community and deciding what the next ideation is going to be. And like, I don’t super envy them because it’s going to be a challenge. But I do feel like, you know, it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to, you know, create and maintain a strong foundation for them to build on top of. But yeah, so who knows what the, what the impact will be past it?
I know that right now a lot of the folks I’m talking to are like Ori’s great, but it’s not enough. And we kind of knew that from the start, you know, we’ve only got about like what 800 square feet in there. You know, when we pack a house, we pack a house. So there’s just not enough room for all of the massive, massive amounts of, you know, creative projects and happenings in Portland, amongst our community.
So I think we’re looking like, you know, where’s, where’s the next place going to be. Where’s our next our next permanent spot that we get to own and direct and, you know, maintain control. I think that that dovetails into like what my goals as a creative Laureate are. And I’m like, we need a performance venue. I’m looking, who’s going to give me a deed, let’s go.
Douglas Detrick: put that idea out in the world and you may be surprised.
Leila Haile: Oh no, I put it out. I’ve started like looking for commercial realtors and like started looking to like, the first thing I asked Suba about was like, who them funders? Put me in a room with them. I will ideologically wear down these people with all of this access and all of this money until they start to give it up. Cause you know, we’re, we’re the end point now, but literally the world is burning outside. As we look like how much longer y’all gonna hold on to money, how much wealth do you need to hoard? Y’all gonna all gonna fly into space.
Douglas Detrick: Hm.
Leila Haile: Like it’s time to give it up.
Douglas Detrick: Hey, you, you with money and access and power. Here’s where you can put that and put it to work there’s a far more vibrant and creative use for it. And here it is right here. So, you know, I think that, you know, when you, when you put a vibrant idea in front of somebody of course some of the are going to say no, but I think you’ll find that’s some are going to say yes. And lots of other people too, that don’t have that power and access are also going to step in and join in on that too. It’s inspiring to hear you guys talk about it.
Part 2 – How artists heal themselves and heal others?
Douglas Detrick: One thing about artists is that artists are hard workers and. The reality is that artists have to work hard. And a lot of times it’s because they spent, you know, all day working at their, at their other job, their real job, real in quotes. and then they spend their evenings and they spend their weekends, whatever it is that they have. Artists are kind of pushed into doing tons of work for very little money with very little resources and that’s just normal.
Joaquin I what would you tell an artist who’s like Joaquin in a feeling super burnt out right now, I just want to stop. What would you, what, what would you tell that person?
Joaquin Lopez: I would tell them to stop. They can stop. The world will move on. They’re not going to die. They can then go take a rest. And they can return to it with some perspective and begin again. I’ve done that many times. It’s very hard. I, I struggle with all the time. It’s easier said than done, but you know the, my mind is endless, but the body is finite, right? So we have to have this relationship with ourselves where we have to experience the, the eternal of the mind and the imagination, but we’ve got to remind ourselves that we can only actually do this much. And that is okay. Right.
As a young artist, and even today, I used to get really caught up and wanting to be everyone’s best friend. And really caught up and wanted to take care of every single detail. Cause I really needed people to think I was amazing and I needed to be adored. Right. So I worked my butt off like 24 7, and I learned something that everybody was fine with me just showing up and doing just what was asked of me. All the other stuff that I did extra, that was me. That was my trip. Right. Everybody was like, ready for me to just drop it down a notch and just pull my own boundary. So I would tell artists, you know, what is actually being asked of you? What are you dreaming? And can you reconcile with them both?
Right. I had a great boss at Latino network and she would say to me, Joaquin, you can’t do that. I’m like why that’s going to be so amazing because yes, it’s amazing, it’s a great idea for what you want to do, but it’s not in the line item budget, so you can’t actually do it. I was like, what?
Douglas Detrick: Right.
Joaquin Lopez: And that hurt my feelings, but then I got over it and I was like, thank God. Cause now I don’t have to actually do that, which was just overcompensating for myself. Right. So, you know, it’s, it’s allowing yourself to just step back and kind of hold the pain of not overworking and just do what’s being asked of you and be really honest. That’s what I would say to an artist struggling.
Douglas Detrick: Leila. Do you have any advice for that hypothetical artist?
Leila Haile: you reminded me that I forget if it was on Twitter or some self-help blog I was watching, but someone was like, we need to get rid of the idea that rest is unproductive because you literally have to sleep. Capitalism has definitely brainwashed us into the hustle mindset where like, people are bragging about like, oh, I spent 50 hours a week at work.
Fuck you dude, sit down, take a nap, relax. If you don’t actually own capital, all you’re doing is earning money for somebody else. So relax. Like it’s going to be okay. Yeah, there’s just like, I tell my friends all the time, the most radical thing I can do as a Negro in this day and age, it’s just take a goddamn nap refusing to work is the most radical thing that black and brown people can do right now.
I mean, look at Simone Biles. like her freaking aunt died and the way the world treated her, when she was like, oh, maybe I need to mourn for a second. Like this trash, like no, especially no one wants black women to rest. People get so angry. Ooh, people get angry. Like people hate rests so much that we don’t allow people to do it in public.
Douglas Detrick: Hmm, that cuts deep. That’s true. That is deeply true.
Leila Haile: Yeah. The best thing you can do is nap. Like if we’re not working towards making sure that everybody has medicine and, that everybody has food and that everybody has shelter, then the work is bullshit. So take a nap. Even if we’re not doing any of those things, it’s still taking that.
Douglas Detrick: Yeah. So I, I gave you this kind of hypothetical situation of like this artist that’s burnt out and feeling frustrated and they want to, they need a break and you both advise them to take a break, which I think is great advice. but I’m kind of curious, like, out of that hypothetical world and back into the real world of the way that artists are actually interacting with the world and how they have to work and all these things, like kind of, what’s the, what’s the practical advice. You know, in terms of like maybe something that worked for you about how to actually achieve, being cool with taking a break, that idea.
Leila Haile: Almost dying. Like I’m a cripple. Like I go to the hospital all the time. Like I’m like writing a Razor’s edge with how hot it is right now in my electrolyte levels. So. I will die if I do not rest. So I don’t want to do that yet. Because frankly it’s a pain in the ass. I’ve tried it a couple of times, never works out. And if it does this, you know, it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So, you know, just rest, just nap, like it’s okay. Like, especially like psychologically as like a, as a Black person in this country, this country is built on my blood and sweat, like in the blood, the sweat of my ancestors. I have to rest. I have to rest where they couldn’t I don’t know if I answered your question or I went off on a rant, but.
Douglas Detrick: No, no, it does. I mean, I think I would say yes, absolutely. Joaquin, Do you have anything to add before we move on?
Joaquin Lopez: Yeah. You know, for an artist to do their art and then to also have to make a living, you know, it’s a hustle, it’s a hustle and it’s a lot of work. There will be times when you have to put a lot, a lot more work. And the other times when you won’t, you know, it’ll ebb and flow and I don’t know everyone’s got the, it’s a personal journey for everybody, but just what I tell myself is that in the end, in the very, very, very end, you can’t take it with you, so really enjoy whatever it is you’re doing.
And if you need a job to make money, to pay bills, do a job that you don’t mind doing. And that you wouldn’t mind maybe giving some effort into it and giving it some love so you can do what you’d love to do. Right. Just be very real with yourself and remind yourself that you can’t take it with you. And oftentimes we’re sold this idea that we think we have to achieve. And really what happened is that we bought it, and we can just put it back on the shelf and return it and get our money back.
Douglas Detrick: Nice. There you go.
Part 3 – Healing others.
Douglas Detrick: Let’s talk a bit about healing. We’ve talked about rest and we’ve talked about how important that can be and I I’ve I’ve have loved what you guys have said. We talked about kind of self healing you know, of taking rest as we need it, these other ideas of, of taking care of ourselves. How does, how does an artist transmit healing or like a healing impulse or like an idea of healing? And then I think it would be lovely to hear how each of you see a Creative Laureate, how, how, how a creative lawyer can help to stimulate that,
Leila Haile: I’m going to be honest, I don’t think the healing that we’re striving for is going to happen in our lifetime. And that’s just something I’ve kind of accepted. I feel like, you know, Gen Z might see the beginnings of some healing. But right now we’re thinking, we’re thinking about. Like, I’m probably not going to get healed before. Let’s just be real. With the amount of trauma that I personally have been through, the black folks collectively have been through, we might not see healing. So my, my best choice right now is to find a level of vibration that works for me and where I can, you know, I can keep myself like in revolutionary spirits until I die.
But that’s it. That’s the goal is to like hand, hand the Baton off. I’m not to say that, you know, very, like some healing is impossible. Like, I definitely believe that, but you know, some healing happens when you leave this plane and that’s cool. That’s okay. You know? And some of us might have to wait that long. And that’s also okay.
Joaquin Lopez: That’s really beautiful. I agree. Some of the healing is going to happen beyond us. There’s a mural that’s gonna that just went up downtown called Never Look Away.. And it has local heroes, LGBTQ heroes, and national LGBTQ heroes. And I was asked to write a poem about it.
And so I was sitting with that. And one of the folks that is on that mirror is Marsha P Johnson. And Marsha P Johnson experienced a lot in their life. A lot of brutality, a lot of working against the system and studying up for the rights . We are the ones that get to do podcasts like this and have the lives that we’re living because of the work in Marsha put down. And when Leila talks about the healing, that’s going to happen, not in this lifetime, that’s what it is. The work that we’re here doing is for the folks that we’re not even know, we’re never going to know their name. We’re never going to know who they are and they’re going to think we’re old fashioned.
But gosh darn it,. If it wasn’t for the fricking work that we’re doing now, they couldn’t stand up on that platform, look back at us, spit on us and tell us that we’re just not cool anymore. You know what I’m saying? So, Yeah. It’s that doing that kind of work and that is soul work. Because we’re all one soul. That is soul work. And so we can’t not do this work. Leila, they cannot stop doing this. I can’t stop doing this. Right. And in this lifetime, I do think that it’s possible to, you know, worked through some of our pains, creatively speaking. And you asked how do we do that? How does the artist stimulate that?
Well, I think Leila and I just have to continue being 100% authentic. And real. And open and vulnerable and sharing our stories so that others are reminded that they can free themselves too, just like we had to. And that it’s possible. And you, you and the help is out there. Right. That’s how I think we can do it.
Douglas Detrick: Yeah.
Leila Haile: feel like something else that comes to mind is that like, in answering the question, like how does an artist facilitate healing? Like, I don’t feel like I know that until after fact. I don’t know that I’ve had like a positive or negative effect on somebody until they tell me afterwards. And only then can I take that information and move forward with it.
So I feel like it’s a continual surprise and which is kind of fun in that like, you know, just by virtue of just like being myself and being open to like criticism, then, then I can find that path and how that works for me. Because how I inspire healing and someone is going to look completely different from how Joaquin or how you do it, you know?
So Yeah. I feel like I’m still, I’m still discovering that. I feel like I know some things that have resonated with folks, but you know, its always a work in progress and I feel like it always is very liminal, if I’m using that word right. And we’ll look that up later and it’s always changing, right.
It always exists where it is and it is only appropriate for where it is. So yeah, it’s going to always change. And I think, you know, being open to healing is you know, the other half of that, cause there’s, there’s a part of myself that was not open to healing at one point, you know, before I woke up a little more and recognizing that is really huge, you know, sometimes we hold onto like pain and strife because what we know and it’s what’s safe.
Cause they’re like, I know what this looks like. I know how to do this. I know what patterns will unfold it’s safe, even though it hurts and it’s traumatizing me and others around me. Right. We still hold on to that because it’s familiar.
Joaquin Lopez: you know, In counseling we have, you know, so many frames of counselings of, of psychotherapy. So much has been written, so many interventions, blah, blah, blah, right? All those things. But the change factor is always the connection that the client has with the counselor.
So the change factor in our community is the connection that the community has with the artist. Like that is where the change happens. Because they’re artists, that’s able to look beyond what’s here now and expand their mind and then share it with everyone else and everyone else on board, that is the role of the artist.
And that’s what I hope this Creative Laureate thing is like forever and ever, and ever, and ever in Portland, because we need it. We need different ways of working because of where it is that we know how to work, don’t work and don’t solve the problems they created. We need a whole new thing, you know, and it’s going to be a long process. Yes it sure is.
Leila Haile: You also have to bring to like, you have to like trust in the leadership of the folks who are most impacted. Right. And I feel like in the same way that you know, we need folks with disabilities to lead like accessibility, justice, right. We need black folks still, even anti-blackness all of this stuff.
We need artists to lead how we’re going to change the government. Because when you’re looking at like polar opposites, right? When you look at people who are most often like pushed out of participating in traditional economy, right. And who are pushed out of the participating in governmental structures, those are mostly creatives.
We’re in the black and brown folks. We are the usually the folks with disabilities who can’t find other work. So we have to be creative about finding other work. Right. Because all you see in government is lawyers people who used to be in non-profits. Right? Like you don’t see creatives in government. And I feel like that’s what we really need because they’re not hearing things through traditional channels. So we need to figure out something else.
Joaquin Lopez: Yeah, and I think it’s also to add onto that. a change in the state being that we live in when our state of being is fractured or dark or whatever it is, we make crappy choices and we affect our community and the world.
If our state of being is a little more loving, a little more flexible, a little more tolerant, a little more compassionate, the choices we make are going to be a lot more effective. So how can we change the state of being of the people, the individuals in our community. So we can move forward together, not get caught up in our, in our state of beings, right. That we’re in right now.
Douglas Detrick: I think that was super inspiring. And I’m really excited to see what you guys do as Creative Laureates and, and also just, you know, like, don’t feel pressure from me. I know you won’t, but don’t feel any pressure for me to do a bunch of things. Like, like just, just kind of show how you can carry this you know, this state of being that you mentioned Joaquin. and, So I really appreciate these ideas that you guys have shared with me tonight. Thank you so much for, for sharing all that with me and with my audience. that is all. Thanks so much. I mean, oh my goodness. Unless you have something else you want to add, but I think you guys left it at such a great place, but, but please feel free. If you have anything else to kind of wrap up this conversation.
Leila Haile: Yeah,
if you’d like to follow me in my antics, you can follow enbeyonce E N B Y O N C E. That’s my Instagram it’s where I upload a lot of what I’m up to artistically or organizationally. So if you want to follow what we’re up to and you can follow that or the hashtag creative Laureate PDX is what we’ll both be updating things. So yeah, let us know what you’re up to.
Joaquin Lopez: You can find me at Joaquin Lopez music on Facebook. I’m a little older. So Facebook is my game. I got an Instagram too. And at some point we’ll be sharing a handle, Creative Laureate lawyer, Portland Creative Laureate handle. The only thing I want to add is just a gratitude to everyone listening, a gratitude to everyone for that was part of this process That put Leila and I in this, in this position.
And you know, and here’s, who knows what’s to come and, you know, here’s to goodness and here’s to like, you know, being open and positive to creating something really cool in these next two years, you know, and making an impact.
Douglas Detrick: That sounds really great. Joaquin Leila. Thank you guys so much this conversation, it was super inspiring and I’m, I’m going to be thinking about it a lot. I I’m super inspired and I’m excited for you guys. So, so best of luck and keep in touch. I’ll keep you posted. So It’ll be out in some undisclosed number of weeks. But I’ll let you know, let it know it is coming out. Right. Exactly.
Leila Haile: It will be done when it’s right. Don’t rush yourself. Take a nap. If you need to
Douglas Detrick: Exactly. Exactly. Very good advice. All right. Thank you both so much.
I think we’ll call it a night and I really appreciate it again.
Leila Haile: Thanks. Y’all take care.
Douglas Detrick: Thanks so much, Leila and Joaquin. Find out more about Leila Haile and Joaquin Lopez at moredevotedly.com.
If you enjoyed this interview, please subscribe to More Devotedly podcast on your podcast app, and if you want to help the show find more listeners, please give the show a nice rating and review.
You can find me on social media (at)moredevotedly on Instagram and Facebook. You can also sign up to get an email every time I put out a new episode at moredevotedly.com.
I composed and performed the music, and produced this episode here in Portland, OR.
What you’re doing is beautiful. Can you do it more devotedly?