Talk Title: Born A Bridge

Abstract: The position of a bridge is tenuous, is disquieting, is uncomfortable. Its solidity is as evident as its vulnerability. The position of a bridge is to have a connection and location in at least two points which insist, in some way, to remain apart. The bridge does not have the luxury of picking one side over the other; it cannot play favorites. A bridge must inhabit the unknown expanse of open air, a leap of faith frozen in architecture, across peril and uncertainty in an attempt to hold two as one. Poet/Performer Jason Graham, AKA ‘MOsley WOtta’ explores what it means to finds ones footing between seemingly separate places and what it means to be “born a bridge.”

Bio: For nearly 20 years, Jason has dedicated his life to the arts and culture in Oregon. With his home based in Bend, he has sought to challenge his own personal views and improve his levels of participation, patronage and change agency within the town.

As a person of mixed ethnicity, a person of color in Bend, Jason has become uniquely proficient in a ‘kind of’ communal diplomacy.  It has been vital to his success as an artist to understand other viewpoints and to incorporate them into his work.  He believes in unification through diversity and that no one person or one group will ever have all the answers.  He believes art is a necessity more than a luxury and that we need art that represents the status quo and challenges the status quo with careful, compassionate consideration for the viewer.

Jason understands these two things need not be mutually exclusive. He seeks to find voices that need to be heard within this state, and beyond, through the mediums that best carry their messages.  He has helped to create, run, and compete in poetry slams, open-mic competitions, and juried art shows throughout Central Oregon. With the help of his local community theater, Cascades Theatrical Company, Jason produced two multimedia Hip Hop performances entitled “Question your Beliefs” and “Smartyrdom.”  He was also commissioned to have his visual art work on permanent public display in Downtown Bend.

Jason’s interests in the up and coming voices of Oregon has taken him around the state to work with middle schools, high schools, and colleges.  For 2018 and 2019, Jason has been an invited Artist-in-Residence at Fishtrap Writing Community.  In collaboration with the Deschutes Public Library, he has interviewed internationally known and critically acclaimed authors for the ‘A Novel Idea Community Read’ and the ‘Author! Author! literary series.’  Through these literary events, he was introduced to former NAACP Chairman of the Board, Myrlie Evers-Williams.  Jason is a four-time TEDxBend performer and winner of Best Band in Central Oregon.