What does acupuncture have to do with the Portland Plan you might ask?
Three 35-foot-tall acupuncture needles recently installed at Waterfront Park, Kelley Point Park and Mt. Tabor Reservoir beg the question.
Artist Adam Kuby thought about that a lot as he conceptualized, sited and created the Portland Acupuncture Project currently going up around Portland. He hopes the project will add to the ongoing conversation about how to make Portland a healthier place. Acupuncture Portland could also act as a visual manifestation of what the City and its partners are attempting with the Portland Plan, the city's long-range plan for the future to ensure Portland is a thriving and sustainable city.
"Needles appearing across the city will bring attention to the some of the city's most challenging problems, greatest assets, as well as places with enormous potential," Kuby states on his website (http://acuportland.org/home.html).
With the help of volunteers, Kuby installed the first three needles on Saturday, April 24, 2010, to coincide with the launch of Phase Two of the Portland Plan. At the installation of the Waterfront Park needle, which was the first to go in the ground, Ann Beier of the Office of Healthy Working Rivers spoke eloquently of the importance of water to Portland and its residents.
"The rivers are central to who we are as Portlanders." she said. "We want to be able to swim in the Willamette and know that salmon and other fish and wildlife will thrive, and our children and grandchildren will enjoy the beauty and bounty of this amazing river."
Conceived in March 2008 when Kuby was artist-in-residence at the South Waterfront Guest Artist Residency Program, the Portland Acupuncture Project envisions Portland as a metaphorical body, considering its health through the non-western lens of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Constructed of high-tensile steel and covered in copper-colored spandex, each needle has a "point name" (Swimmable River for Waterfron Park) and a meridian (e.g., kidney, heart, lung).
Kuby worked with acupuncturists, city planners, ecologists, artists, writers and the general public to brainstorm ideas and refine the approach. He was featured at the Portland Plan Leadership Summit in June 2008 at the Oregon Convention Center.
Since then, he has been adding to his list of potential needle sites, identifying places all over Portland from far East to greater Southwest where the energy –– or Qi (pronounced "chee") is metaphorically blocked or flowing freely. Kuby has funding to place needles in 15 locations; with additional funding, he will be able to add more sites to the project.
The needles will be installed in stages, three to five at a time, for six to eight weeks at a stretch. Future sites will include the working harbor, outer Southeast Portland and Old Town-Chinatown, among others.
To see more of Kuby's work, go to www.adamkuby.com