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THE ELEMENTS: 2016 Residency Cycle at Krowswork

This cycle of residencies is preceded by two Prelude exhibitions: Divine Invasions and The Fates, both of which are about a preparation of the space for a rising feminine energy (regardless of gender identification) to emerge and expand.

The shape of this residency cyle is the triangle, and specifically a double triangle whose points are:
Sanctuary, Body, Altar, Transmission.

double triangle

My recent fascination with the double triangle emerged from a few sources: the alchemical symbols for female and male, the Crow Mother kachina in the Hopi universe, and a statement by Sonya Rapoport (1923-2015) that accompanied her residency at Krowswork last year that ended the 2015 cycle.*

In it she wrote: "However, the traditional triadic dialectical interpretation of Hegel's approach (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) is perhaps too simplistic. From Hegel's point of view, analysis of any apparently simple identity or unity reveals underlying inner contradictions, and it is these contradictions that lead to the dissolution of the thing or idea in the simple form in which it presented itself, and its development into a higher-level, more complex thing or idea that more adequately incorporates the contradictions."

Below are the residents for the cycle, with three artists in the space at a time, each in her own room, and each of whom has a unique understanding of these three words that both define and defy spatial boundaries: body (corporeal), sanctuary (social), altar (spiritual). Plus there will be a "transmission" by a fourth artist that will be broadcast as a channel and reference point to that which is outside of physical space and is now perpetually informing us.

The structure of this residency is an acknowledgment of the value of "a higher-level, more complex thing [that] incorporates contradictions" -- in other words, a space that is both appropriate to this incredibly complex moment in historico-spiritual time and one that I feel is already intuitively understood and held by women. This is about strengthening a non-competitive, boundariless expression of what is already there. As society begins to let go of the millennia-old patriarchal systems that no longer serve us or protect us, much depends on women's ability and courage to expand and further articulate what they know in order to reclaim a sustainable balance, for the world's sake.

AIR (Mother Tongue): June 6- July 9: Minnette Lehmann, Zina al-Shukri, Sarah Biscarra Dilley; transmission: Eddy Falconer

EARTH (Material Labor): July 11-August 13: Margaret Fabrizio, Miriam Dym, Leisel Whitlock; transmission: Johanna Poethig

FIRE (Transparent Heart): August 15-September 10: Margo Majewska, Hagit Cohen, Sholeh Asgary; transmission: Christina McPhee

WATER (Blind Passage): September 12-October 15: Sylvia Fein, Cara Levine, Simone Bailey; transmission: Nina Zurier



Minnette Lehmann, born in Sacramento, got out as soon as she could and attended UC Berkeley in the late 40’s. Fueled by Marx & Freud, she helped establish Pete Martin’s City Lights Books. She became a wife/mother and later re-entered the art world by way of the SF Art Institute, where she earned an MFA in Photography. After receiving a NEA grant for photos that questioned the institution of marriage, she taught History of Photography and studio work throughout the Bay Area.Major shows were Thin Skin at New York's Grey Gallery and Naked Portraits at San Francisco’s Camerawork. She did Performance by way of Linda Montano and finally realized she is a painter.

Zina Al-Shukri, born in Baghdad in 1978, holds an MFA from California College of the Arts and a BA in Painting and Drawing from University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her work has been included in national exhibitions at the Berkeley Art Museum, Patricia Sweetow and Jack Hanley galleries in San Francisco, and international shows in Turkey, London and Austria. Her process takes into consideration the notions of transition, conflicts/hybridity between culture/religion, individuality and shared experience, psychology and social determination.

Sarah Biscarra Dilley is a multi-disciplinary artist, ‘axi and co-conjurer in Black Salt Collective. Her work explores the spaces between the worlds; between blood sickness and bloodlines, between grief and joy, between body and land, between the spatial and the temporal. Using found footage, cut paper, archival material, handwork, language and thread, she traces a landscape of indigenous resilience and shifting relationships of belonging, displacement, and home. She is full of birds.

Born in Cambridge, MA and raised in San Francisco, the sequential artist Eddy Falconer designs characters and environments for original and pre-scripted dramas in a variety of media and settings. S/he has been an award-winning experimental film and videomaker, a creator of comix, a spoken word artist, a videographer, and Associate Director of an NEA-funded multi-media theater. At one time a groundbreaking gender-bender as a performer, intellectually, Eddy is also a product of the German Reunification period, having arrived in Berlin the summer before the Wall fell. These days, Eddy spends a lot of time reading, painting, writing, and fleshing out 2D animations.

After a career as a concert harpsichordist on the international stage and as music music faculty at Stanford University for 25 years, artist Margaret Fabrizio saw an exhibition of kawandi (quilts) made by the Siddi women of Karnataka. She was so inspired that she went into the forests of India and spent two weeks with the Siddi women learning their style of hand sewing these improvised non-pieced quilts using scraps and recycled clothing. She returned the following year, taking some of her own work to share with them. Since then she has returned a number of times, and has had two solo shows of kawandi, one at Visions Art Museum in San Diego, and one at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. She is also a collage artist, videographer, maker of Artist Books, painter, forester on her land in Sonoma, and many other things.

Miriam Dym is an artist, designer, entrepreneur, self-taught engineer and systems thinker. As an artist, Dym has long worked in the key of design, creating hybrid and disruptive objects, including functional items that are treated as art (e.g., not used for their function) and art made to have functionality. Recently, Dym transformed her long-held alter ego, Dym Products, into an actual corporation. Using business strategy, she focuses on the strange human traits of liking to make and to buy stuff, and to generate shocking volumes of toxins and trash.

Leisel Whitlock is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but was raised in New Orleans. Much of her new work is influenced by the contradictions found in a typical southern Louisiana landscape-the natural beauty, the sound, and the joy juxtaposed with the reminders of the complicated realities of being human. Leisel’s work spans a diverse range of media that includes video, audio, still photography, installation, sculpture, and text. She studied at the Welch School of Art & Design, Atlanta, GA and later obtained her M.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Johanna Poethig is a visual, public and performance artist who has exhibited internationally and has been actively creating public art works, murals, paintings, sculpture and multimedia installations for over 25 years. She was raised in the Philippines through high school and has lived in Chicago, San Francisco and Oakland since coming to the United States. She received her BFA at University of California, Santa Cruz and her MFA at Mills College. She has produced and participated in performance events that mix feminism, global politics, costume, props, cabaret, experimental music, and video.

Margo Majewska is a multidisciplinary artist working in a variety of media: architecture, video, drawing and installations. Born in Warsaw, Poland, she attended the Women’s School of Architecture and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw before moving to New York where she received a BFA with Honors from Parsons School of Design and a MArch from Columbia University. Margo’s professional interests began with the integration of art and architecture and gradually moved towards installation arts. Informed by her own immigrant experience, her work grapples with ideas of place, transformation, and identity. Navigating the space between cultures requires continuous shifts of self, and this balance--or imbalance--is at the root of her inquiries.

Hagit Cohen is a fine artist who works primarily with digital images, constructing visual scenes with photographic images and objects of ritual. In her work she explores the relations between human beings, nature, and spirt and the power of personal ritual to effect healing and change. Hagit holds an MFA in Imaging Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and serves on WEAD (Women Eco Artist Dialog) board of directors.

Sholeh Asgary is a visual artist born in Tehran, Iran and raised in the West Coast, Sholeh is a painter, photographer, lecturer, and curator who resides in the Bay Area. Her work utilizes the cross section between photography and painting; atmospheric spaces where the painted line and the reproduced image merge.

Christina McPhee was born in Los Angeles county, California in 1954. She attended Scripps College, Claremont, and later Kansas City Art Institute, where she earned a BFA in painting and printmaking (1976). She studied with Philip Guston at Boston University (MFA, painting, 1979). Her images move from within a matrix of abstraction, shadowing figures and contingent effects, emulating potential forms of life, in various systems and territories, and in real and imagined ecologies. Christina's work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art-Rhizome Artbase, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Sylvia Fein is a surrealist painter born in 1919 in Milwaukee. She studied painting at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she became part of a group of magical realist painters, including Gertrude Abercrombie, Marhsall Glasier, John Wilde, Dudley Huppler, and Karl Priebe. Fein paints exclusively in egg tempera, which she mixes herself. Fein painted from her teenage years through 1973; she then took a break from painting and wrote two books--Heidi's Horse, an analysis of the development of her daughter's drawing throughout childhood, and First drawings: genesis of visual thinking, which is about the basic patterns that appear throughout human art, both historically and during childhood development. Fein began painting again in the early 2000s, and had a retrospective of both her recent and earlier work at Krowswork in 2014.

Cara Levine is an artist exploring the intersections of the physical, metaphysical, traumatic and illusionary through sculpture, video and photography. She received her MFA from CCA in 2012 and has shown work in various places including the Wattis Center for Contemporary Art in San Francisco, The Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, and The Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv. Cara is also a long time yoga and meditation practitioner, and has worked closely with a hypnotherapist for over 6 years and as a migraineur uses hypnosis and biofeedback to move her headaches. She believes in the untapped wisdom and potential of the body. 

Simone Bailey’s video- and performance-centric practice focuses on ephemerality and perception while analyzing the impulse to grasp the intangible through a technique she identifies as disembodied poetics. She received her MFA from California College of the Arts.

Nina Zurier a photographer whose photographs also take the form of conceptual art, books, sculpture, or video. She studied at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and at the San Francisco Art Institute. She was born in Detroit in the 1950s and lives and works in Berkeley and Iceland. She thinks of her work like poetry, similarly suggestive and image-driven, fragmentary.


*I will admit I was informed not only by Sonya's recent statement but borrowed liberally from an image from her 1977 piece "Horizontal Cobalt," which also includes references to the elements.


This residency is generously sponsored by an Alternative Exposure Grant, distributed by Southern Exposure via the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Alt Ex