All of Us All of Us at The Berkeley Art Center
Berkeley Art Center presents All of Us All of Us, a group photography exhibition curated by Roula Seikaly with works by Tristan Crane, First Exposures, Marcel Pardo Ariza, and The Q Sides (Kari Orvik, Vero Majano, Amy Martinez). All of Us All of Us centers on contemporary projects born of collaboration and mentorship and challenges the familiar concept of a solitary photographer addressing aesthetic, technical or socio-political concerns. Work presented by participating artists and artistic collaborators runs a gamut of subjects and styles, and are united by how they center representation, agency and community in contemporary art practice. The exhibition runs through June 18th, 2022.
All of Us All of Us celebrates collaborative contemporary photography projects produced by makers based in California’s Bay Area. Challenging the familiar concept of solitary photographer addressing aesthetic, technical, or socio-political matters, the four featured projects exemplify collaborators striving as equals to answer the same questions, and more.
I’d been thinking and learning about collaboration in contemporary art making when, in August 2021, I was invited to curate an exhibition at Berkeley Art Center. I eagerly accepted the invitation, as it further motivated me to explore widening fissures in the western photo canon. I want to know who, other than cis white men and women, is making work, and what motivates them. Also, perhaps selfishly, I wanted to work on something life-affirming after we weathered months of Covid-fueled uncertainty. Simply stated, collaboration felt good to think about, and it made for an equally compelling curatorial thesis.
All of Us All of Us includes three portrait-based projects. By design, they are highlighted to demonstrate the conceptual breadth of such projects, and how they advance representational equity in a genre that is not wholly inclusive. I was excited to think about collaboration in portraiture as a means of defeating the long standing and often unfriendly power dynamic between artist and subject. Tristan Crane’s Here and Marcel Pardo Ariza’s Una Linda Realidad undermine that experiential imbalance by portraying their sitters in the space and manner that the sitter chooses, to stunningly beautiful ends. Along with Q-Sides, which portrays queerness as a vital element in San Francisco’s lowrider and Latinx culture, the projects elegantly trouble photographic representation and established cultural moments.
First Exposures has shaped photo education-framed mentor-menteeship for three decades. From a non-profit lifespan perspective, that’s nothing short of miraculous in the Bay Area. In this context, collaboration is at least initially framed by institutional goals: providing usually at-risk youth with a creative outlet and adult support in a reliable and nurturing environment. The relationships, both personal and creative, go well beyond meeting those outcomes. Collaboration, in all of the featured projects but particularly First Exposures, invites and sustains vulnerability, trust, and candid communication.
Curating All of Us All of Us afforded me the opportunity to learn more about collaboration as an element of social practice, and what often motivates it, particularly in racial or socio-economic groups that are under-represented in both historical and contemporary art exhibitions, publications, commercial galleries, annual fairs, etc. Speaking more personally, I love collaborative curating. Like many of the case studies or histories of artists collaborating that I read, and it’s so cliche to write this, but so much good comes from multiple hands and minds working together. – Roula Seikaly
Roula Seikaly is a-based independent writer and curator, and Senior Editor at Humble Arts Foundation. Her curatorial practice addresses photography and New Media, social justice efforts in contemporary art and exhibition making, and institutional critique. Her writing is published virtually and in print on platforms including Hyperallergic, Photograph, BOMB, and KQED Arts. She has curated exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, SOMArts, SF Camerawork, Blue Sky Gallery, Filter Photo, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and Photographic Center Northwest. She is the co-recipient of Blue Sky Gallery’s 2019 Curatorial Prize for the exhibition An Inward Gaze. In 2021, she was named Curator at the NFT platform Quantum Art.
First Exposures provides youth aged 11-18 the opportunity to engage with photography in a classroom with guidance from a photographer who serves as both a mentor and a positive adult role model. Many of our students have experienced difficult life circumstances and are in the process of stabilizing their lives. Photography is the catalyst by which our students acquire vital life skills and the vehicle through which we deepen their intellectual, academic, and developmental experiences. While learning to photograph, students are also enhancing their self-confidence, developing their personal vision, and cultivating their passion for learning. Since 2004, over 95% of our students have gone on to pursue a college education. We reinforce our class time with time spent in experiential learning environments: major museums, alternative art spaces, commercial photography studios, etc. The students use their cameras to explore and interpret these places and their lives.
Frida Calvo Huerta
Tristan Crane is a Bay-Area based queer photographer (they/them and he/him pronouns. Crane’s work has been exhibited at EnGendering Change, Cloyde Snook Gallery, Adams State University CO, ON OUR BACKS: The Revolutionary Art of Queer Sex Work, Leslie-Lohman Museum, NYC, Identity, Transgender and Non binary Portraiture, Merced, CA, Stonewall, 50 Years, Harvey Milk Center, San Francisco, CA, Stories, Dab Art Online, Bannable Offense, San Francisco, CA, Bay Area Big Shots, East Bay Photo Collective Group Show, Oakland, CA and Men As Object, Reversing the Gaze, Somarts gallery, San Francisco, CA. They received their degree in 2001 from San Francisco State University, BFA Fine Art Photography, San Francisco, CA
INSTAGRAM: @here_portraits, INSTAGRAM: @tristancrane
Marcel Pardo Ariza (they/them) is a trans visual artist and curator that explores the relationship of representation, kinship and queerness through constructed photographs, color sets and installations. Ariza is the recipient of the 2020 San Francisco Artadia Award, Tosa Studio Award (‘17), Alternative Exposure grant (‘18, 19’) and a Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Award (‘15). Their work has been recently exhibited at the San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries (SFAC); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA); Palm Springs Art Museum; R/SF Projects; Minnesota Street Projects; and Guerrero Gallery, UNTITLED Art Fair; De:Formal Gallery, New York, NY and NoPlace Gallery, Columbus, OH. Ariza is a former member of the Curatorial Council at Southern Exposure, a co-founder of Art Handlxrs* and studio member at Minnesota Street Project.
Q-Sides is an exhibition of photographs and film that challenge long-held assumptions regarding the traditional exclusivity of heterosexuality in lowrider culture. Artists Vero Majano, DJ Brown Amy (Amy Martinez), and Kari Orvik reinterpret the album covers of East Side Story, Volumes 1-12 through a re-staging and re-imagining of queer inclusion within the traditionally heterosexual public image of lowrider culture.
Vero Majano is a multi-disciplinary artist born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District. Her work creates space to acknowledge and remember the queer Latinx communities that have shaped one of San Francisco’s most iconic yet contested neighborhoods. As a storyteller and curator, Majano’s practice includes live cinema, archival film, performance, collage, which preserve stories and work towards a collective goal of including untold narratives in a greater San Francisco history, like the flowers on hippies on Haight Street. Her work has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum in NewYork, the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, the deYoung Museum, Oakland Museum of California and Galeria de la Raza. She has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation Media Fellowship, the Puffin Foundation, SF Arts Commission, and the Free History Project, and was a resident at the HeadlandsCenter for the Arts and Djerassi Resident Artist program.
Kari Orvik is a photo-based artist and educator. Through film and found materials, her work is often site-specific, and engages ideas of presence and absence, exploring what we hold onto, what we let go of, and where we place value. She has shown at the Oakland Museum of California, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Petersen Museum in LA, SF Camerawork, and has held residencies at Recology SF (the dump) and Headlands Center for the Arts. She operates a tintype portrait studio in San Francisco, and has taught photography at Stanford University, San Francisco Art Institute, City College of SF, and UC Berkeley.
Amy Martinez (aka DJ Brown Amy)
Amy Martinez is a DJ/musician who has been working in and around San Francisco for the last 9 years. She is co-founder of monthly queer soul party Hard French, which has been voted Best Overall Queer Party for four consecutive years of its five year stint, and spins some of her favorite 45’s the first Saturday of every month. A hairdresser by trade, she is also the percussive backbone of the powerful, all-women of color, psych-rock four-piece Queen Crescent. Both her DJ and performance practices have garnered international recognition and have allowed her the opportunities to tour the continental US, Canada and Mexico. When she’s not in the studio or digging through record crates, Amy is busy making connections between alternative music forms and global social movements, texting her mom and making taco salads.
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