TESTIMONY: THE EXHIBITION
The Testimony exhibition opens at the Asian Art Museum on April 5th, 2018 and runs through June 10th. I began this project 3 years ago with a kickoff event as part of the Artists Drawing Club, and now the final phase is an exhibition of portraits and interviews with twelve individuals and families who have immigrated to the Bay Area. The goal of the show is to ask how we might reframe the current dialogue around immigration by zooming out, and looking at multiple mechanisms and reasons for immigration at once, and by zooming in and looking more closely at how various policy decisions are playing out in people's lives. Show webpage here, press release here.
THE TESTIMONY NEWSPAPER
The exhibition includes a free newspaper that you can take with you. It contains extended versions of the interviews, and extra pictures. It also comes apart and can be tacked up as a mini exhibition anywhere you like. It can even become a substrate that students (or anyone) can alter or add onto.
PHOTOFUSION UK Residency with GEMMA-ROSE TURNBULL
Gemma-Rose Turnbull invited me to collaborate with her on the Taking Part Residency sponsored by PhotoFusion UK. We set up a temporary community-based photographic studio in central Brixton, using portraiture and conversation to explore what that community might want from photography, and what photography wants from that community. The studio occupied the site of the old Mr Biggs family portrait studio, which is now a multi use space, including being Brixton’s first pay-what-you-feel cafe, and the work culminated in an exhibition in February 2018 at PhotoFusion.
MASSIVE URBAN CHANGE
Massive Urban Change, which was shown at the StorefrontLab in 2014, was a panorama of a 2 mile long stretch of Mission St. between 15th and 30th Streets, in San Francisco. With design and collaboration from artist Nicole Lavelle, I stretched the image around the gallery space, and used it as a substrate on which to build a community portrait of fears, hopes, stories, history and place-based-identity. The purpose was to shift the polarized and ineffective debate about gentrification in San Francisco to one that could absorb nuance and historical perspective, while also helping individuals discover where they could find their own agency amidst larger social forces.
The Box Project
The Box Project brings children and families into museums to explore relationships between institution & audience, parenting & creativity, sustainability & learning, and brain development & play. City College parenting teacher Nancy Gnass curates a suite of articles focused on early childhood development and is on-site to answer parent questions. Meanwhile a museum ballroom is filled to the brim with used cardboard for families to alter at will, eventually constructing a giant cardboard world. At the end of the day, we destroy it all! Events have taken place at the Portland Art Museum (OR) and the Asian Art Museum (CA).
Art & the Interview
As an Anacapa Fellow at the Thacher School in the Spring Term of 2017, Eliza worked with 9 high school seniors to examine the use of interviews to inform and create artworks. Over the course of the trimester, students conducted interviews with their peers, with faculty children, and with people affiliated with a citrus and avocado ranch that abuts the school's campus. The results were a collaboratively created book about the ranch, and a series of small books that focused on individual interviews by each student.
Adobe Books Backroom Gallery
I curate the Adobe Books Backroom Gallery inside Adobe Books on 24th Street in San Francisco. Starting in December 2016, I've been coordinating artists, curators, community members and crafters to show, sell and activate their work in the Backroom Gallery space. I look for projects that bring people into the space, connect with the fact that it's a bookstore, connect with specific audiences and communities in the city, and reflect diverse perspectives in terms of age, race, class and medium. The image above is a detail from artist Jason Houck's installation, "Wouldn't you like to?" in August 2016, which I also assisted with.
Community Arts internship program, Southern Exposure
I was asked to teach the first session of Southern Exposure's revamped after school program for high school students, which would integrate students into a contemporary artists's practice, while also giving them an opportunity to make their own work. After thinking together about ethics, representation, and research in art-making, I asked the students to make work about immigration--from any angle or with any framing they wished to use. I assisted them in realizing their concepts, and we exhibited our work at SoEx in May 2016.
Testimony, Book 1
Testimony began as an invitation from the Asian Art Museum to both create a one-night public program that used the museum as a platform for my work, and to think about how we might co-create a longer term project. So we invited the public into the research I do as part of beginning a large-scale socially engaged work. 10 service providers and professionals whose work touches immigration in some way came to the museum to answer questions from the audience about their jobs. We made a book to document that night.
I worked as a mentor in Southern Exposure's one-on-one youth mentorship program for five years, with three different mentees. Pictured above is mentee Grace Leary's piece Just Do It, exhibited at SoEx in 2015 at the end of our third year working together. This is an outstanding program that allows young artists to realize their ideas, pursue the skills they want to acquire, and work toward a public exhibition. This program provides an excellent foil to conventional school environments, because there are no grades, only real-world consequences. You either make the work or you don't, it falls off the wall during the show or it stays up, people respond the way you thought they would or not.
THE LOCAL, Melbourne
THE LOCAL was a participatory photographic project that documented people living in Melbourne, Australia who hail from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, from Indigenous Australian, to white Australian, to Liberian, to Vietnamese, to Italian, to Indian. Each participant had a portrait made in their home, and gave an interview about their own experience of cultural identity and cultural adaptation in contemporary life. The work was exhibited at the Yarra Sculpture Space in Melbourne, and at the Head On Photo Festival in Sydney, both in 2011.
This project brought together students from Downtown Continuation High School, SFMOMA, D'Maize restaurant and Mission Chinese Food to talk about food, entrepreneurship and belonging in a fast-changing city. Students received a cooking lesson in each restaurant, focused on a signature dish, and were encouraged to document their experience. I created these learning opportunities, and provided the students with some foundational thinking about how they might document their time in photographs, audio and text. The Downtown Continuation teachers then helped their students reflect on their experiences and compile their documentation images for an exhibition at school. The above image of Gina was made by Andria Lo, courtesy of SFMOMA.