Rojava by Ben Dunn

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Cobblestones and Lumber: UW x SFAI

Submitted on April 8, 2019 - 2:48pm

Did you know that some of the cobblestones on Seattle streets came from lumber ship ballast, the ballast being rubble from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake? This is just one of many connections between the two cities, and it influenced the title of a joint exhibition involving Master of Fine Arts students from our School and the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI).

UW x SFAI was organized by Assistant Professor Whitney Lynn, who teaches in our Interdisciplinary Visual Arts concentration, and Professor Tony Labat, who directs the MFA program at SFAI. After meeting with our MFA students over several months, Lynn accompanied them to San Francisco during UW's spring break. The first order of business was to prepare for the exhibition in the two-story atrium of the SFAI Fort Mason Campus, which is on a pier over San Francisco Bay. Students from both institutions worked and installed side by side. Brighton McCormick said, "The space for the show was beautiful and a lot of fun to install work in." Abigail Drapkin added, "SFAI staff and students welcomed us warmly, providing the materials we needed for installation. It was a great experience to prepare work for an exhibition in another city, and it opened up my practice to new ways of working on hanging unbounded fabric that could be easily packed into a suitcase."

As with Drapkin's work, some of the artworks for the exhibition were created in advance while others were made or completed on site so that they could respond to the exhibition space. For example, Granite Calimpong constructed a wall sculpture that reflected the changing light and the bay. Lucy Copper worked with security guards and placed her tile paintings where they would be most visible to security cameras. Connor Walden collaborated with an SFAI alum / staff member on a performance for the opening.

Once installation was complete, there was time to explore. The UW group met with a curator at the Minnesota Street Project as well as Chris Grunder (BA 2007), who is co-director of Bass & Reiner Gallery. There were also independent visits with other artists and to other venues. Andy Romero and Luke Armitstead went to two botanical gardens in the San Francisco area. Romero also said, "I went by myself to the special Monet exhibit at the de Young Museum, and it turned out to be a much more powerful experience than I anticipated. Perhaps it was powerful because of the evidence that so many people, for a number of reasons, care deeply about art — especially art that depicts nature — which is what my current practice also addresses."

The exhibition opened on Friday, March 29, and remained up through April 10. An informal invitation has been made to the SFAI students to visit Seattle for a similar joint exhibition. That will likely happen next academic year.

UW Artists: Luke Armitstead, Granite Calimpong, Lucy Copper, Zack Davis, Abigail Drapkin, Jackie Granger, Pinchuan (Larry) Huang, Baorong Liang, Sean Lockwood, Brighton McCormick, Todd McKinney, Andy Romero, Charles Stobbs III, emily charlotte taibleson, Connor Walden, and Shuo Yin.

SFAI Artists: Anthony Chao, Sami Cutrona, Samantha Hensel, Hayley Samantha Jensen, Mengmeng Lu, Joshua Mintz, Ni Pan, Anna Sidana, Stan Mumei Song, Momo Yuntong Wu, Candice Xia, and Tiandongding Zuo.