Artist Profile: Dao Strom

What mediums do you work in?

I work in a blend of image, text, and music — photography, book layout/design, poetry and lyric essays, and music.

What is your work about?
Displacement, the feminine, longing, vulnerability, ethos, the past, inheritance, hybridity, periphery, the spaces in between.

Tell us about your history with the IPRC.
I went through the image-text certificate program led by Coleman Stevenson in 2015-16. This ushered me into a community of other hybrid poets, book & print-makers, designers, and artists who are just good, humble, extremely talented people I was lucky to meet. Previous to the image-text class, I’d been working pretty much in isolation, feeling sometimes quite alone. It was through the IPRC community that I first began to know other people also working in hybrid forms, which for me was the start of a wonderful new stage of artistic community in Portland.

What are the most important steps in your art-making process?

I try to follow and heed (hear) whatever the process is trying to impart to me.

What/who inspires you?
I love looking at well-designed art books and feeling the energy of spaces. I think good design has the ability to save the world. I wish it would be applied to all areas of human life.

What would you like to work on next?
Texture, prosody, rhythm, flow, tone, tenderness – exploring how these elements or qualities may manifest, or merge, through all the mediums I work in together.

What does “Independent” in IPRC mean to you? Is there a personal significance? Why is the IPRC important to Portland?

I think Portland artists have an independent spirit and are dedicated to making honestly good art. I love that writers in this town don’t always wait around for some outside entity to “accept” their work for publication. I think we inspire each other and also challenge each other to keep pushing boundaries, esp. in publishing and micro-publishing and concepts of what a book can be. The IPRC is a resource that is invaluable in the way it supports and allows for this type of lit/art culture to keep going.


In what ways would you like to see the IPRC grow?
Keep doing what you are doing. Support writers of color, keep empowering all writers and artists to have control over all stages of their art-making.

Do you have a favorite word?
I recently learned this word in Vietnamese, explained to me by the poet Vi Khi Nao as a particular kind of sorrow, the kind you savor alone, like a fruit — sầu

Dao Strom is a writer, artist, and musician whose work explores hybridity through melding disparate “voices”—written, sung, visual—to contemplate the intersection of personal and collective histories. She is the author of a bilingual poetry/art book, You Will Always Be Someone From Somewhere Else (Ajar Press, 2018), an experimental memoir, We Were Meant To Be a Gentle People + music album East/West (2015), and two books of fiction, The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys (2006) and Grass Roof, Tin Roof (2003). Her work has received support from the Creative Capital Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Precipice Fund, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Oregon Arts Commission, and others. She is the editor of diaCRITICS and co-founder of the arts collective She Who Has No Master(s).

All images are used by permission of the artist. Interview by Andrew Stern.