The Center for the Moving Image Film Collection includes films from the Portland State University Archives and the Tom T. Taylor Collection. Established by Andries Deinum, the Center for the Moving Image was active at Portland State from 1969 to 1981. Selections from the collection are highlighted here once they have been digital transferred.
"Albina Murals," 1978
Preserved by a generous grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation
Filmmakers: Christopher Bangs, Richard Caplan, Lan Fendors, Gary Eppelsheimer, Donna Schatz
Through the generous support of the National Film Preservation Foundation, Portland State University Library is able to share this restored version of the "Albina Murals," a 1978 documentary film originally shot on color Super 8 and produced by the University's Center for the Moving Image. The murals, created by local artists, depict scenes from African American history, with special attention to the Northwest and Portland. The project represents an important example of the power of the intersection of community, public art and public history. This is the only know film documentation of the mural panels which were removed in 1983.
On February 10th, 1978, the panels of the Albina Murals were dedicated to the public in Portland, Oregon, the result of a yearlong collaboration among 7 artists of color working to craft a community monument to African American history. The murals, which were funded by CETA (the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973), hung from 1978 till 1983 on the exterior walls of the Albina Human Resource Center in the heart of North Portland’s Albina neighborhood. The artists, Isaac (now Isaka) Shamsud-Din (project director and mural painter), Charles Tatum (sculptor and project assistant director), Henry Frison (mural painter)), Chonita Henderson Smith (mural painter), Jenny Harada Allen (mural painter), Larry Scott (assistant mural painter), and Darryl Clegg (project documentarian), focused on capturing climactic moments important for the community. Five mural panels depicted different points in African American history, with special attention to the Northwest and Portland. The panels showed the African slave trade, the migration of Black settlers to the Northwest at the end of the 19th century, the movement of African American workers and their families to Portland in the 1940s to work in the war effort, the disastrous Vanport flood of 1948, and the African American civil rights movement of the 1960s. The project also included one bas-relief wood sculpture, more abstract than the murals, that focused on Black shipbuilders in the 1940s, drawing the themes of African American history and labor history together.
Unfortunately, in the early 1980s, the murals began to deteriorate from their exposure to Portland’s rainy climate, and the damaged panels were removed from the building by the artists in 1983. As a result, the murals survive for public viewing only in photographic form and in this documentary film, preserved and digitally transferred with a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.
For further reading on the Albina Mural Project:
Robin J. Dunitz, “Albina Mural Project,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 111.4 (Winter 2010), p. 486.
James Prigoff & Robin J. Dunitz, Walls of Heritage, Walls of Pride: African American Murals (Pomegranate Communications, 2000).
Closing music over the film credits has been removed on this access copy. The master copies retain the original music.
This digital access copy is for educational use only. It cannot be copied, distributed or screened for commercial purposes. It is made accessible because of one or more of the following situations: the rights are owned by State Board of Higher Education, on behalf of Portland State University; Portland State University has permission to make it accessible; it is made accessible for education and research purposes under "fair use"; or there are no known restrictions on use. In the event that previously unknown information is shared that may change the status of this item, it will be immediately removed from public view until pertinent rights issues are clarified.
With thanks to the National Film Preservation Foundation, Portland State University Library's Special Collections now holds a 16 mm color answer print film reel of the film, its associated components, a Digital Betacam videotape transfer, and the original Super 8 color positive reel.