design, facilitation, & engagement strategies
We build culture. WPA works with clients to develop, produce, and promote their creative work, and develop organizational culture. Using tactics from socially engaged art, human centered design, and branding, we help our clients discover, embody, and aestheticize what matters most to them.
Works Progress Agency emerged from a single, incredible project. We proposed to create an installation in the lobby of the Portland Building, which houses municipal offices of the city. As socially engaged artists, we are always interested in relationships and in this case we were wondering about people’s personal relationships and how they intersected with their professional relationships.
We decided to ask workers in the office building a provoking question, Who do you consider your "chosen family"? and then invited them to come to the installation with the people they identified to be photographed together. People brought roomates, husbands, wifes, lovers, partners, and interestingly, many people chose to be photographed with their colleagues.
As people posed for their photograph they watched as they loosened up, started laughing and told stories, and even cried. After the photo sessions, participants were given an opportunity to write a short reflection. We installed these photos in lobby of the building giving both workers and passersby the opportunity to see each other in a personal light. This illumination allowed for a more authentic connection, and created a space for people to understand each other in ways that aren’t typical of a workplace environment.
We realized that provoking dialogue, reflection, and visualizing this process in the workspace could help people build empathy and better communication. And these experiences produce richer and more interactive workplace culture.
Meet the collective
Erica is an artist, producer, and designer. She combines her experience in contemporary art and design with a deep commitment to social justice to produce innovative solutions with clients and collaborators.
Erica specializes in strategy, written and visual content, exhibitions and experiences, producing and consulting on public art, large-scale events, and community based projects. She holds an MFA in Contemporary Art and Social Practice and has over a decade of experience as a producer, project manager, and art director.
You can learn more about her individual art practice at ericamerylthomas.com .
Emily is a creative consultant, socially-engaged artist, photographer, and storyteller. Through her consulting and art practice she focuses on integrating the relational and visual to elevate engagement, invoke curiosity, and demonstrate multi-dimensionality. Her work is responsive, participatory, and site-specific—seeking to shift systems of power, and build meaningful connection. Emily brings large-scale art installations into non-traditional, public and unexpected places in order to deepen our understanding, reframe our ways of relating to one another. In addition to creative consulting, Emily teaches Art and Human-Centered Design at Portland State University.
Artist website at: efitzgerald.com
Contact us to learn more.
811 East Burnside #124
Portland, OR 97214