A Bay Area Juried ART Exhibition
SEP – OCT 2019
Rhythmix Cultural Works, in collaboration with curator Michelle Nye, present DIASPORA VOICED – A Bay Area Juried Art Exhibition. Jurors Demetri Broxton, Mayumi Hamanaka and Daniel Nevers selected eight artists of distinction and awarded a Best of Show to Azin Seraj for this group exhibition featuring 19 diverse Bay Area artists.
The Tate defines diaspora as “a term used to describe movements in population from one country to another and is often cited in discussions about identity.” The melting pot of the Bay Area offers opportunities for individuals and communities to cross, merge and hybridize. Each person constructs a unique identity much like a collage artist composes a cohesive whole out of varied and juxtaposed parts.
Touching on these themes, the selected artists energize the space with a range of personal and collective explorations, creating an exhibition mirroring the ways peoples migrate, settle and thrive: from reflections on ancestral traditions, to depictions of the journey of refugees, to abstracted memories of native landscapes and missed family members, to celebrations of personal freedoms.
The jurors awarded Best of Show to Azin Seraj for her compelling series, Foreign Exchange. Responding to “current American politics, including Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’, and the corresponding rise of racism, Islamophobia, and polarization,” Azin Seraj’s banknotes “honor activists/groups from countries based on their historical conflict with US national interest.” Seraj’s work exemplifies a powerful and pressing exploration of the themes of this exhibition, where conceptions of heritage, statehood, home and self form multifaceted and distinct truths in postcolonial globalized societies.
826 VALENCIA · THE SEA OF STORIES, 20 MIN AUDIO
JUROR STATEMENTS + BIOGRAPHIES
DEMETRI BROXTON Artist, curator and Senior Director of Education (Museum of the African Diaspora) www.demetribroxton.com
JUROR STATEMENT “Diaspora is a concept that occupies a great deal of my daily thoughts. My personal identity is not only enmeshed in the experience of immigrants moving and blending their cultures, languages and ideologies with the dominant culture of America, but I also work at an institution dedicated to celebrating the unique experiences of the African Diaspora. Consequently, I am drawn to the works of artists that are able to illustrate themes related to diaspora that are universally applicable to people who live in close proximity to the immigrant experience. Moving through the submissions, I was immediately captured by Adreinne Waheed’s Turbo’s Dream (D.E.K.Y.). The piece exudes a sense of both celebration and conscious defiance – a combination rarely seen in depictions of people of color in America. The composition, colors and movement prove that Waheed is a master of her art form. Next, I was seized by Jennifer Berkowitz’s Crossing the Aegean Sea. Though the artist ties her painting to a specific location and a singular group of people forced into diaspora, the work captures the reality of so many people around the globe who travel through treacherous seas seeking freedom from persecution. The immediacy of Berkowitz’s brush strokes and mood conveyed through her color choices stir up a mix of intense emotions for me. My final selection is Kacy Jung’s Free Will is an Illusion. Jung’s prints masterfully illustrate the experience of immigrants who must negotiate maintaining their home culture and identity, while trying to fit within the “melting pot” of American society. The artist’s choices are brilliant, as the lack of eyes removes the figure’s individual identity while the entire body twists and stretches in an attempt to fit into the mold of the mainstream culture.”
Demetri Broxton is a mixed media artist, arts educator, and independent curator. He works as the Senior Director of Education at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco and contract curator for the City of Berkeley since 2014. As an artist, Broxton’s sculptural work serves as an active investigation of cultural continuities from Africa to America. Born and raised in Oakland, Broxton holds a BFA with an emphasis on oil painting from UC Berkeley and an MA in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University.
MAYUMI HAMANAKA Artist, curator, educator and Gallery and Communications Director (Kala Art Institute) mayumihamanaka.com
JUROR STATEMENT “In our current political landscape huge numbers are forced to move from one country or community to another. As an immigrant to the US myself (though not through forced displacement), I have experienced many challenges in establishing my own identity and community, and I feel very fortunate to be able to embrace the hybrid culture of the Bay Area. Artworks submitted for this exhibition were powerful and compelling. In addition to reflecting the artists’ challenges to name their in-between identities and their longing for home and heritage, they used their art practices to call attention to many important issues. Najib Joe Hakim’s work reminds me of “the unsettling journey” that comes with moving to a new country. In his solarized triptych, Horizons, a Palestinian family disappears into the horizon. Najib asks where they are going and whether they will be accepted. The idea of acceptance is also very interesting to me. We need approval from the authorities to enter a country and obtain basic human rights. Territories and borders divide people and create conflict among us. Azin Seraj’s Foreign Exchange series sheds lights on conflict and resistance around the globe. Responding to “current American politics, including Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’, and the corresponding rise of racism, Islamophobia and polarization,” her banknotes illustrate activists from countries based on their historical conflict with U.S. national interests. I was also intrigued by the 826 Valencia podcasts (with artpaul cartier). It is refreshing to hear recordings of students telling stories about their everyday lives, “ranging from food to learning English and stories of immigration, and it’s after effects.” 826 Valencia’s mission of “supporting under-resourced students with their creative writing skills” is very important and fundamental to the future of immigrant kids.”
Mayumi Hamanaka is a visual artist, curator and educator. She also works as Gallery and Communications Director at Kala Art Institute, Berkeley. Originally from Japan, her work often uses photographs and references to examine historical events and individual memories and stories embedded in those events. Hamanaka received her MFA from California College of the Arts, San Francisco. She has taught photography at California College of the Arts, Berkeley City College and Diablo Valley College.
DANIEL NEVERS Artist, educator and Executive Director (Berkeley Art Center) www.linkedin.com/in/dnevers
JUROR STATEMENT “The diversity of voices in this exhibition are a testament to the communities affected by migration around the world and the influence that displacement has on individuals and families over generations. In making selections for the show, I was interested in the conversations engaged in by first- and second-generation Americans with their personal and cultural histories. In Peace Out, Patriarchy, Punjabi Sikh artist Rupy C. Tut addresses an unexpected phenomenon: that gender roles in diasporic communities can be more strictly enforced than in communities “back home.” Her painting depicts Heer, a folkloric figure known for standing up to social authority, flashing a V-sign with her fingers, a prototypically American gesture. The resulting clash creates something at once traditional and modern, funny and angry, specific and universal. In her work, Mayela Rodriguez methodically presents artifacts that point to family narratives as well as the complicated inter-relationships between Mexico and the United States. Using her privilege as a student enrolled in graduate school at an American university, she requested a sheet of copper from a mining company in Mexico. That the copper is only referenced here by proxy seems no mere coincidence. Its absence speaks to the gaps in culture and identity that can occur when families are dispersed across borders over time.”
Daniel Nevers is the Executive Director at the Berkeley Art Center. He is an artist and educator with more than 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector, primarily in the areas of communications, fundraising and strategic planning. Nevers has taught studio art and professional practices for artists at the University of California, Berkeley, California College of the Arts and Mills College. Nevers holds an MFA from Mills College and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.
The K Gallery, at Rhythmix Cultural Works, supports the mission of bringing people together and building community by inspiring enagement in the arts. Exhibitions in the K Gallery reflect the vitality of local artists in the Bay Area community. The K Gallery presents six visual art exhibitions annually and a weekly Art Jam, where local artists create in a shared studio environment. K Gallery was choosen BEST of Alameda Magazine, 2016.
826 Valencia Tenderloin Podcast Project with artpaul cartier Sea of Stories, 20-minute audio loop 826valencia.org/podcasts
The podcasts you hear in this collection were written and recorded by San Francisco youth, ages 12-18, during field trips to 826 Valencia’s Tenderloin Center. 826 Valencia is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting under-resourced students with their writing skills, developing their confidence as writers and amplifying their powerful voices. Many of our students are recent immigrants or first-generation Americans. With the support of volunteer tutors, students wrote podcasts exploring the elements that influence their identities and beliefs. Vibrant and varied, their podcasts are grounded in reflection on culture, community, challenge and celebration. In many, students describe the diverse places they are “from.” They are from “my home back in Kuwait, where the people were chargers with energizing attitudes”; from “rice that’s left over in your bowl”; from “Canada, Korea, and thoughts passed down for generations”; from “Narnia and Hogwarts”; from “music spiraling through my bones.” These brief sonic journeys showcase the writers’ backgrounds and origins, while pointing to the inspiring places they’re headed.
artpaul cartier is a photographer and artist who compiled and presented this installation. He recounts: “As I have been volunteering as a recorder with 826 Valencia Tenderloin podcast project I have been struck by the beauty of students’ writing and performances in this medium. As many of the students come from the San Francisco Unified School District, there is a wide variety of perspectives on topics ranging from food and sports to learning English and relating stories of immigration – and their after-effects. Culled from hundreds of podcasts taken over the last three years, this presentation assembles a loop of a selection of the students’ stories and poems.”
ELLEN BEPP It Wasn't a Dream, 2016 Mixed media, 12x12 cargocollective.com/shiftingmovements/Ellen-Bepp
Ellen Bepp is a mixed media artist and taiko musician who has aspired to give voice to her Japanese cultural roots through visual and musical expression. Growing up as a third generation Japanese American in the Japantown community of San Jose, California soon after World War II, she was surrounded by Japanese art and textiles. As a child she was greatly influenced by her immigrant grandmother, who taught traditional flower arranging and kimono making, and her grandfather who was a photographer, calligrapher and painter. She was raised with the philosophy that spiritual forces are “alive” in all objects. For her, that force emanates from each scrap of fabric or paper like a metaphor for identity at the core of her art. She reveals her cultural/political legacy as she strives to evoke personal and collective memory, addressing broader experiences of injustice and historical displacement of people.
Since 1980 she has exhibited nationally, including at the Oakland Museum of California, Berkeley Art Center and Euphrat Gallery. Her work has spanned various media including wearable art, theatrical design, mixed media and hand cut paper. She also developed a kinship with pre-Columbian art and weaving traditions of Latin America, which inspired projects in Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Nicaragua and Cuba. In 1974 she began taiko training under Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo and went on to perform with San Jose Taiko. In 1999 she co-founded Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble, allowing her to realize her multi-disciplinary aesthetic vision. Today she continues to explore the political connection between art, culture and humanity as it informs her identity as an Asian American woman artist.
Jennifer Berkowitz Crossing the Aegean, 2019 Oil on canvas, 48×36 www.jenniferberkowitz.com
“My current series, 68.5 Million, follows the river of tears from the millions of forcibly displaced people around the world. My family left Russia long ago and were given an opportunity to make a new home, strive and succeed in safety. This is not the world we live in now. I refuse to look away from the suffering that rips our world apart. It motivates every mark I make. The paintings are windows into the unthinkable and unseen stories of innocent people. This series bears witness to the humans, all of whom could be us, who are being told to disappear. Where can they go? For a moment they can rest across my canvas, lost and found, defined and undefined. It’s time to notice.”
Jennifer Berkowitz worked for many years as a creative director and designer of motion graphics for television and film. She created award-winning productions and taught at the University of California, Los Angeles before she decided to dive into a submersive exploration of painting. The psychological and emotional challenges of life fuel her work, which follows a thoughtful and introspective thread. Her paintings are primarily figurative, exploring dislocation, rites of passage and coming of age. Jennifer lives and works in San Francisco, where she is actively involved with the homeless community — another displaced population.
Cynthia Brannvall Indigenousness, 2019 Rice paper, bees wax on panel, 20×16 www.cynthiabrannvall.com
“I am interested in creating visual language that is engaged in individual and collective identities and the history, culture, economies and geographies that they are tethered to. This piece is from a larger body of work that I call the Belonging series. Indigenousness is an identity portrait comprised of the countries and continents of my own heritage. The maps range from historical to satellite imagery and include “outdated” versions with countries that no longer exist or illustrate first nation territories in what would become the United States of America. It is a visual exploration of my interest in the instability of place in regard to notions of nativism and identity. The first nation peoples offer an understanding of identity as connected to seven generations before and seven generations forward. When I consider this in terms of the geography and nationalism of my own ancestry, it is more accurate to understand my indigenousness as a journey. A path that meanders through time and place with changing borders, political systems, names and dates that are determined by exploration, conquest, colonialism, opportunity, greed, benevolence, lust and love.”
Cynthia Brannvall is a California native of African American and Swedish descent. A multimedia artist and art historian, her artwork has been selected for juried group exhibitions in Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Rafael, Palo Alto, San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles. She teaches Art History at various community colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area.
NOAH BREUER Aurora Cascade, 2018 Woodcut, 22x15 noahbreuer.com
“My current project examines the visual legacy of “Carl Breuer and Sons” (CB&S) my Jewish family’s former textile printing business in Bohemia. In 1897 my great-great-grandfather Carl began the business, which included a factory in Bohemia. In 1939, the company, along with all other Jewish-owned property in German-occupied areas, was seized and sold to Nazi-approved owners, my family members were killed and the product of their work was lost. When my father was born in 1944 in Los Angeles his parents were not yet citizens of the United States. They were part of a relatively small amount of asylum-seeking refugees to have gained entry to the United States during the thirties and part of a larger Jewish diaspora displaced by the War. Through my visit to both the CB&S factory, its archive of fabric samples and designs at the nearby Czech Textile Museum, I have acquired a rich digital collection of primary source material in the form of scans and photographs. My research has opened a window to the material world of my lost European family and allowed me to create a physical connection to the past which only art can provide.”
Noah Breuer is an American artist and printmaker born and raised in Berkeley, California. He holds a BFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design, and an MFA from Columbia University. He also earned a graduate research certificate in traditional woodblock printmaking and papermaking from Kyoto Seika University in Japan.
NYAME O. BROWN Yo Arms Too Short to Box With Gawd, 2008 Oil on linen, panel, 36x60 www.nyamebrown.com
“This work explores scenes and characters form my allegory New Black Myths. I articulate my personal history and African Diaspora multi-threaded history, not precluding the Western cannon of art, locating myself in art history strategically, deploying it anachronistically, and creating new connections and associations. My storytelling functions culturally, the tradition calls for expanding the idiom through improvisation, riffing and rupturing. Within hip-hop and the blues there is use of allegory, metaphor and the modernist persona, like Kool Keith aka Dr. Octagon, Howlin Wolf and Sir Nose of Parliament Funkadelic. Classic literature and hip-hop share the trait of veering between folk and the epic instantaneously, from line to line – even within a single line. This is how I build my narratives – like scaffolding around the art history of painting, the cultural history of hip-hop and my personal history. The goal of my work is to make new Black myths and lore that are born of tradition, yet transcend pre-existing archetypes that diminish the Black-imagination.”
Nyame O. Brown was born in San Francisco and lives in Oakland. Brown received his BFA from The Art Institute of Chicago (1993), and MFA from Yale school of Art and Architecture (1997). He has been in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, Black Artist Retreat, and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. While in Omaha, Nyame milled the dirt from the iconic African American social activist Malcolm X. He was in the Frequency exhibition at the Studio Museum of Harlem (2006) and is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors grant (2003). His solo show, Classroom in Neveryon, exhibited in 2016 at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.
Alex da Silva Nunca Lavamos Os Shorts, 2019 Acrylic, oil on canvas, 36×36 paintandabandon.com
Growing up in Brazil, Alex da Silva often accompanied his late father – a respected artist and famous art critic – to the outskirts of São Paulo where he painted and visited his peers. Alex’s earliest memories include visiting studios filled with strong smells and things he was told not to touch; travels to the coast revealed endless urban industrial areas pushing up against deep lush green mountains, and the ocean so vast, bright and inviting.
Alex’s work strives to represent this emotional space filtered by his current perspective, without nostalgia. Perhaps they are places that never existed beyond his imagination. His use of color in diverse mediums communicates the impact of these memories through symbolism and unlikely landscapes. His influences include the organic earth tones of his father’s paintings and the visual experimentation of the 20th Century American artists of his adopted home.
DAVID GOLDBERG A Family History 5, 2016 Photography, 20x30 davidgoldbergimages.com
In this work you see my father’s Polish passport and The Amsterdam, which is the ship on which he immigrated to America (probably in steerage), in 1920. He told me that, as a Jew, he had to stand well back from the desk of the official from which he would obtain the document so as to not accidentally touch him. Then he could step forward and place the fee on the desk, then step back while the official took it, and then go through the procedure again to pick up the actual passport. The family didn’t know that the holocaust was just over the horizon but they knew that things couldn’t possibly be worse in America.
I have been a working photographer since the 1980’s. I usually work in projects. This project, A Family History, attempts to give a narration of immigration and Jewish culture in America. I have been involved in various San Francisco photographic institutions over the years, including Eye Gallery Collective, Media Alliance and Camerawork. I’ve studied at City College of San Francisco and Columbia University. I was an instructor of photography at the University of California, Berkeley, Extension for twenty two years. My current project, called Truth, is a meditation on the fungibility of photographic and philosophical truth using photography, painting and a written essay. It was started before the dawn of the post-truth society but seems even more apropos now.
Najib Joe Hakim Horizons, 1979 Photography, B/W film, 12×36 www.jaffaorangephoto.com
Horizons does not celebrate the wonderful successes of migrants who have “made it.” Rather the focus is more on the unsettling process or journeys these people must survive before they can begin to establish new homes in a new land. Horizons is a solarized triptych of consecutive frames on a roll of film. It shows a Palestinian mother and her two young children disappearing over the horizon. Where are they headed? Why? Will they be accepted? What has become of them?
Najib Joe Hakim works as a documentary and editorial photographer in San Francisco. He is a Political Art Fellow at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and was also a nominee for the United States Artist Fellowship. Hakim’s current project, Palestine Diary, exhumes his 1978-1979 black and white photographs in Palestine and combines the images with excerpts from his contemporary journal, enlightening the deep roots of the crisis in Palestine today.
PHILLIP HUA Asset Abscission, 2018 UV cured acrylic print on Acrylite, gold metal leaf, panel, 32x32 www.philliphua.com
“My works are inspired by brush painting from the Asian diaspora. Traditionally used by monks and scholars as a means to meditate on nature, I echo that sentiment by considering the role of nature in contemporary society. Compositions of flora and fauna are juxtaposed against a gilded backdrop of stock indexes. What do we value? What do we prioritize? And what are we willing to sacrifice for one or the other?”
Born in San Jose, California in 1979, Phillip Hua was raised in the city that would eventually become the heart of Silicon Valley. As a child, he spent his days wandering the many fields and creeks now replaced with redevelopment, fueled by the tech industry. He eventually received his BFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Hua’s work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and art fairs nationally and internationally. In 2016, he was awarded a public art commission from the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) for the redesign of the 19th Street Oakland BART station and a public art commission from the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2018. His work has been featured by Art Practical, The San Francisco Chronicle, SFWeekly, California Home + Design magazine, White Hot Magazine of Contemporary Art, Huffington Post, Interior Design magazine and 7×7 magazine, among others. Hua lives and works in San Francisco and is adjunct faculty at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where he teaches Digital Media.
Kacy Jung Free Will Is An Illusion, 2018 Archival inkjet print, 37×25 kacyjung.com
Kacy Jung is a Taiwanese visual artist working with digital photography and ceramic sculpture. Throughout her art career, she investigates the construction and reassembles of identity during socialization, as well as the relationship between an individual and the current capitalist society. The subject intertwines with her immigrant experience and the anxiety of being part of the disappearing middle class. Her current works are a series of self-portraits and quirky sculptures of everyday objects such as mobile phones that are inspired by her struggles of living in a capitalist society. With this work she intends to intrigue the viewers’ own experience and internal dialogue: what is this system becoming now? What are the American dreams we believe?
Kacy’s works have been shown in galleries and museums internationally, including the United States and Taiwan. She is the recipient of the 2016 SFAI Harlan Jackson Diversity Scholarship, the 2018 SFAI nominees of Graduate Fellowship at Headlands Center for the Arts and the annual International Sculpture Center Student Award in contemporary sculpture. She received her MFA in photography at San Francisco Art Institute after an MS in biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area and practices her art at the Root Division Studios Program.
Kay Kang Guests Missed, 2019 Mixed media, 48×36 www.kaykangart.com
The main theme in my art is alienation and assimilation of the immigrant in a foreign culture. As a Korean woman in the United States, I have confronted the challenges associated with race, language and geography that most immigrants encounter. But what has shaped my perspectives even more is my struggle with the cultural conflict that exists for women born in Asian cultures who must learn to cope with a new startling social model in the West.
This struggle is a consistent undercurrent throughout my work. Many of my pieces use calligraphic – and at times unintelligible – characters to convey both the frustration of incomprehension and the beauty and universality of understanding. The words should resonate on a very subtle and deeply personal level. My intention is to use the power of the art to soothe the mind. Recently I was one of seven artists of, In-Between Places: Korean American Artists in the Bay Area. The artists featured during In-Between Places reveal the reality and complexities of being a Korean American artist in the Bay Area – a location that has served as a gateway for Korean culture and a bridge between Korea and the West.
In-Between Places acknowledges the infinitely evolving and nuanced ways Korean Americans interpret and express history, culture and art. Reflecting on the relationship of Korean American artists to art making in the Bay Area, the exhibition offers fresh considerations on the intricacies of cultural identity.
Pantea Karimi The Healing Garden of Asparagus, 2019 Digital illustration, archival print on aluminum, 20×20 panteakarimi.com
“The Healing Garden of Asparagus” is inspired by The Herbal, a twelfth century manuscript from Andalusia, Spain. This piece evokes the memories of my childhood in the Southern city of Shiraz, Iran, known for its herbal medicine tradition. As a child I spent ample time shopping at the traditional drugstores in Shiraz with my grandmother who firmly believed in the healing power of herbal medicine for all kinds of minor ailments. The plants are designed after the original images from the manuscript and printed on metal medallions to evoke the Persian decorative tiles. The Healing Garden of Asparagus showcases an introspective representation of my early memories of connection to nature and personal place between the worlds of reality, science and imagination.”
Pantea Karimi is a multidisciplinary artist with an interest in the taxonomy of image-text relationships. She researches visual representations in medieval Persian and Arab and early modern European scientific manuscripts in five categories: mathematics, medicinal botany, anatomy, optics/astronomy and cartography. Karimi’s works collectively highlight the significance of visual elements in early science and invite the viewer to observe science and its history through the process of image making. Her fine arts have been exhibited in Iran, Algeria, Germany, Croatia, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. She is the recipient of the 2019 Arts and Cultural Exchange Grant in San Jose; the 2019 Silicon Valley Artist Laureates Award; the 2016-2017 Kala Fellowship Award; and the 2011 Multicultural Arts Leadership Initiative Fellowship. Pantea Karimi is an Adjunct Faculty at the College of San Mateo and maintains a studio in Cubberley Artist Studios in Palo Alto, California.
ANDRZEJ MICHAEL KARWACKI Equanimity Series, Draw Thoughts, 2018 Acrylic, resin on panel, 12x12 andrzejmichael.com
Born in Poland, Andrzej grew up during the years of political oppression and era of communist Poland. There, he attended the School for the Arts and Literature. Andrzej moved to New York in 1984 and received BFA in painting. He then received Master Degree from University of Pennsylvania in the field of Urban Architecture. His artistic direction began to take shape after integrating Eastern spirituality into his artworks. His recent paintings have become Cosmocentric. Andrzej’s artistic philosophy lead him to California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco where he received, in 2011, Masters in Integral Psychology and Certification in Expressive Art Therapy. His paintings are exhibited in LA, SF Bay Area, Chicago, New York, Paris, London and Hong Kong.
“My work strives to find balance between western and eastern concepts through the duality of the identity of man with the way I perceive the role of man within the cosmos. My paintings extend beyond the individual to intentionally embrace nature as inclusive of man and art. With each work, there is a push and pull that develops in my paintings, one color, image, text or textile at a time. Each step is an inspiration for the next. My composition develops freely allowing my paintings to form from the depths of the creative process. The essence of each work carries its own unique direction.”
NATASHA KOHLI Self Portrait #1, 2019 Photography, 30x20
Natasha Kohli is an Indian and Colombian-American multidisciplinary artist based in Oakland, California. Her projects are inspired by her mixed identity, preserving the stories of her ancestors, and methods of moving through the nonlinear process of healing ancestral trauma. Natasha explores methods of emotion-based storytelling through photography, dance and filmmaking – weaving these disciplines together in her multidimensional projects.
Natasha is the co-founder of the artist collective JAGAH, a platform created to unify South Asian artists through collaborative artistic practices, group exhibitions and public performances in the Bay Area. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, El Tecolote, the California Sunday, and she has directed short films for stage projection in collaboration with Destiny Arts Center (Oakland). Natasha has exhibited work in Bay Area galleries such as Mission Cultural Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, Incline Gallery, Book and Job, Rayko and Accion Latina.
She currently works as the Photo Editor for El Tecolote, the longest running nonprofit bilingual newspaper in the West Coast, based in the Mission District of San Francisco. Natasha’s work addresses themes pertinent to her existence, such as how migratory patterns in her family’s histories affect her present and shape her future, while simultaneously reclaiming the pieces of her identity that colonization and patriarchal systems have attempted to erase.
Purin Phanichphant Lost In Google Translation, 2017 72x24x24 purin.co
With his roots in Northern Thailand, where he spent part of his life as a Buddhist monk, combined with his background in Human-Computer Interaction and designing innovative products and experiences in the San Francisco Bay Area, Purin’s work explores themes of language and cross-cultural translations, human-machine coexistence and collaboration, as well as the tension between dogmatic rules and spontaneous expression. His media often incorporates buttons, knobs and screens, combined with a touch of code, resulting in simple, playful and interactive experiences for the audience.
Purin’s work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and institutions across the United States, Japan, Thailand and Iceland. He holds a BFA in Industrial Design and Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA in Product Design from Stanford University. Prior to becoming an artist, he worked as a principal product designer at IDEO San Francisco. He has taught design courses at Stanford University, General Assembly and is currently teaching at the University of California, Berkeley.
Mayela Rodriguez Letter of Request to Grupo México, 2017 University of Michigan Letterhead, 10×8 Arrival to Michigan, 2017 Saran wrap, copper particles, hair, debris from Mexico and Michigan, 12×12 www.mayelarodriguez.com
“In 2017, I acquired an eleven-pound sheet of copper from the Buenavista del Cobre mine in Cananea, México. My father’s family is from Cananea and I grew up hearing stories of my uncle who, allegedly, pitched rocks into this mine and later played for the Detroit Tigers. As an MFA student at the University of Michigan, I used my position, and university letterhead, to request copper from Rene, a manager at the mine. This many-months correspondence was a way to explore my Mexican-American identity, my connection with family, and institutional power.”
Mayela Rodriguez is a practicing artist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mayela received her undergraduate degree in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015. Through research, sculpture, photography and social engagement Mayela’s practice explores collection-making, value and labor within a Latinx context. Mayela has exhibited her work in Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan, Santa Barbara, California, and several cities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Mayela received her MFA in Art from the University of Michigan in 2019.
Joanna Ruckman White Boxes: Harriet, 2018 Heirloom lace, chiffon, cotton thread, hair, ribbons, dress hooks, 28x19x4 www.joannaruckman.com
Joanna’s work considers the intersections of cultural identities performed on and by our bodies. She is specifically interested in storytelling through adornment, female cultural lineages and hair as a medium mobilized to both create and deconstruct meaning. Her work proposes the braid as a cross-cultural ritual passed down through generations entangling past, present and future. In her White Boxes series she examines privileged spaces in relation to inheritance. Braids are interlaced with sartorial heirlooms, as altars to her historical and imagined heritage.
Joanna is an interdisciplinary artist based in Alameda, California. She received her BA in Cultural Anthropology and Visual Arts from Brown University and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, where she is currently pursuing an MA in the History and Theory of Contemporary Art. She has exhibited in both the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museum. Her works are part of several collections and she has exhibited internationally in Osaka, Japan. She prints actively with San Francisco Poster Syndicate.
Azin Seraj In Honor of Syrian Refugees (Detail), 2018 In Honor of Jamala al-Baidhani (Installation), 2018 Inkjet print on linen paper, plexiglass, 5x7x1 www.azinseraj.com
Foreign Exchange incorporates the emblems taken from banknotes and utilizes images from news media to highlight voices of resistance from countries that have been impacted by U.S. national interests. The banknotes feature influential figures and monumental events that draw attention to socio-political tensions existing both within a country’s borders and beyond. Foreign Exchange offers an alternative platform to archive and share cultural currencies.
Azin Seraj is an Iranian-Canadian artist currently based in northern California. Her research based, multi media practice addresses socio-political concerns through a transnational lens. Seraj’s mission to amplify oppressed or silenced voices bridges her work as an educator and community organizer working with emerging artists and activists through exhibitions, screenings and actions. A recipient of the 2010 Roselyn Schneider Eisner Prize in Film, Seraj’s work has been featured internationally in exhibitions and festivals including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Tate Liverpool, Open Space Arts Society, (S8) Monstra De Cinema Periférico in Spain, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), Minnesota Street Project, Chicago Underground Film Festival and Croatian Association of Artists.
Elizabeth Sher Saddlebag (From When We All Got Along) Morocco, 2019 Archival acrylic ink, paint on canvas, 16×16 www.ivstudios.com
This image is from the town of Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco. Before the state of Israel was established, the town had an equal mix of Jews, Muslims and Christians all living peacefully together. After 1948 most of the Jews migrated to Israel. The saddlebag pictured is a relic from that time.
Long time Bay Area Professor Emeritus (from CCA) Elizabeth Sher works in both 2 and 4D. Her films and artworks have garnered awards and been shown nationally, internationally and on TV (her films.) Her work focuses on women, art, healthy aging and the environment mixing digital and analog (handwork) modalities. Over the past decade her artwork has been inspired by residencies she has attended out of the country – most recently in Morocco.
Diaspora is a part of her background and her life. Sher’s family migrated from two shtetls in Lithuania to escape the pogroms. They settled in Minnesota and Wisconsin: equally cold and anti-Semitic areas – just like home. Says Sher, “Fiddler on the Roof is me!” Many of her mother’s family moved to Israel and stayed. While in Wisconsin, her dad was offered a job in FDR’s New Deal so her family migrated to Washington, DC where she was raised. Sher came to study at the University of California, Berkeley, and then stayed and raised her family. She now works and resides in Oakland, California. She is a member of Mercury 20 Gallery on 25th Street and will have a show Morocco Seen and Unseen from September 12th to October 19th, inspired by the sights, sounds tastes and smells from her residency in Tetuoan in 2018.
Inez Storer Feet of Clay, 2018 Mixed media on paper, 21×18 www.inezstorer.com
Throughout her tenure, Inez Storer has used the narrative as the lynchpin for her work. Usually including collage, mixed media and text, although frequently peculiar in its vernacular. The images reflect that of a storyteller which include her personal observations and interpretative reflections of current events, past memories and magical thinking.
Inez Storer was born in Santa Monica, California. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley, Art Center, Los Angeles, San Francisco Art Institute, and received her MA from the University of San Francisco. Storer has taught at various universities, which include San Francisco State, University of California, Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz, Sonoma State University and San Francisco Art Institute. Storer’s work has been widely exhibited in the United States, Asia and Europe.
Her work has been exhibited in various museums including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Oakland Art Museum, Montana Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Jewish History and the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco. She has received numerous grants and awards, which include the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and twice has been an Artist-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome. Her work has been critically reviewed in many publications including Art in America and many on-line reviews, most recently by Dewitt Cheng in Visual Art Source. Storer resides in Inverness with a studio in Point Reyes Station.
ANITA SULIMANOVIC Home - Reflection, 2019 Ink, tempera on cotton paper, 16x12 www.anitasulimanovic.com
“My work is based on my personal history; it explores the idea of home and the theme of displacement that was present in my family for several generations. Since leaving my country, the postwar Croatia, I moved to sixteen different places before establishing what I now call my home in Alameda, California. It is not always the case that we feel at home where we came from, or where we are living. I am exploring the definition of home as not being a single place. Is our definition of home evolving? Our physical home is just one of the spaces that define us. Is home space, a place or a feeling?”
Anita Sulimanovic is a visual artist known for her site-specific sculptures and installations made with recycled materials and found objects. Born in Croatia, she graduated in sculpture at the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts. In 2002 Anita moved to Scotland, United Kingdom to pursue an MFA in Sculpture at the Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2004. She also won the competition to design the Planet Award sculpture for BBC World Music Awards. She has created public sculptures and shown her work in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Anita immigrated to the United States in 2008, and in 2014 she permanently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and founded Studio 1.6 Art School in Alameda, where she teaches fine art disciplines and continues her studio practice. Anita recently had a solo show at Pro Arts, Oakland, and has been selected for NYFA Mentoring Program Oakland.
Ruby C. Tut Peace Out, Patriarchy!, 2017 Gouache on handmade hemp paper, 17×21 www.artbyrupy.com
Rupy C. Tut is an Oakland based visual artist working with two traditional art forms: Indian miniature painting (an 18th century Indian art form) and calligraphy. Rupy’s work is particularly remarkable for her strict practice with traditional materials and methods associated with these art forms. She creates work with intricate brushwork on handmade hemp paper using stone and organic pigments made in her studio. Being connected to traditional art making while innovating within its constraints, Rupy reaches back to a visual language that is centuries old but has relevance today. Her work dissects historical and contemporary narratives to portray the modern mix of influences from both the West and the East.
In Peace Out, Patriarchy!, Rupy challenges norms of identity and belonging as a first generation Punjabi Sikh immigrant. In this painting, she comments on post-migration trauma associated with gender roles imposed on women. This piece is centered on Heer, a famous character from Punjabi folklore who defies norms and stands up against social authorities. As the central character, Heer is a heroine who echoes the sentiments of many first generation girls around gender roles that become more strictly enforced in diasporic communities versus communities “back home.” For Rupy, this painting reiterates her role and responsibility as a traditional maker to capture the resilience of women who shaped history but have not been mentioned in history books.
Camilo Villa Baila Conmigo Bolivar, 2019 Laser cut wood, 38×24 camilovillastudio.com
Camilo is a Colombian artist who utilizes his creative practice as a visibility platform. He is committed to unveil oppressive systems to recreate alternative communities. His love for craft and performance intersect in order to communicate symbolic narratives that encourage conversation about the role of art within social justice. He is currently working on the Baila Conmigo project, which invites queer Latinx people to occupy iconic public spaces of cities to the rhythm of Latin beats. Besides livening the daily routine of citizens, this project aims to create community through dance, a non-verbal bodily language that brings people together. The dance is documented though video and photographs that are then translated into vibrant posters, stencils, collages and laser cut wooden pieces of the dancers.
“This work represents a sub community within a community; the queer community within the Latinx culture. Many of us flee our countries in search of a safer place where we can be who we are meant to become without fear of being persecuted. While we are still living in our home countries, gay clubs become our haven, where dance becomes an act of liberation. The Baila Conmigo series captures the moments where the dancers allow themselves to shine in joy and no longer in struggle, fear or rejection. These works are meant to uplift our community with the use of vibrant colors and dynamic shapes. It is important to flip the narrative of victimization that often falls upon our community, and instead start empowering the representation of queer Latinx people so that the younger generations feel positively represented in art and the media.”
Sharon Virtue Mawu – Creator Goddess, 2019 Acrylic on canvas, 36×24 virtuevision.org
Sharon Virtue is a British artist of mixed Jamaican and Irish heritage, currently living in Oakland, California. She has a strong social practice and has worked internationally in Mozambique, Uganda, Brazil, Haiti, America and England. She believes artists are agents of transformation. Her mission is to inspire, encourage and provide access to the greater community in the creation of art.
Sharon’s works narrate stories of shape shifting, initiation, metamorphosis and power. They contain mythological beings, which exist amidst the veils of humankind, the natural world and the supernatural. The viewer is invited to encounter the magical places and beings that inhabit her imagination: to explore, decipher and be immersed in an atmosphere of contemplation, remembering their own personal mythologies and the things that are being lost and devalued in our modern world.
Adreinne Waheed Turbo’s Dream (D.E.K.Y.), 2015 Photography, 37×53 www.adreinnewaheed.com
“As a visual artist and woman of color, I am drawn to the beauty, brilliance and resilience of Black people across the diaspora. Turbo’s Dream (D.E.K.Y.) is the cover image from my self-published coffee table book entitled Black Joy and Resistance. The book highlights Black and Brown people at cultural celebrations, festivals and “safe spaces” where we can proudly express ourselves without fear of reprisal. While making this work, I traveled throughout the diaspora to capture “The Souls of Black Folks” and the majesty that happens when we tap into our authentic selves. By focusing on the seemingly simple premise of Black joy, I create an entry point for conversation around our inalienable right to that pursuit.”
Adreinne Waheed is a photographer, photo editor and archivist based in Berkeley, California. An Oakland native, her love of photography begin at age thirteen and she has been committed to image making ever since. Ms. Waheed is an accomplished photo editor who has researched, produced and directed numerous shoots for publications including Vibe and Essence magazines. Her work has been published by The New York Times, National Geographic and Photo District News. In 2010, she created the Waheed Photo Archive, a collection of found photographs of African-Americans from Civil War to the present. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) acquired the archive in 2015. Adreinne’s first solo show, Black Joy and Resistance: The Exhibition, enjoyed a successful four month run at Betti Ono Gallery (Oakland, California) and closed June 20, 2019.