June 1 – 30, 2018
Curated by Lauren Marie Taylor
Opening Reception: Friday, June 1, 2018, 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12:00 – 6:00 PM
The title Thekla is taken from a city described in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as endlessly built and rebuilt by its citizens, using the patterns of stars as blueprint. The artists of the exhibition, like the citizens of Calvino’s city, reflect on the vastness of the universe in our material realities. In their investigations of both darkness and light, the artists in Thekla create experiences for viewers in which the mind can rest, overwhelmed by it’s contemplation of the infinite.
Mark Baugh-Sasaki creates portraits of himself though his connection to place. He expands on his photo-based practice by incorporating the materials of a site—dirt, twigs, leaves, hardware, water, trash—in combination with fire to create sculptures and ethereal objects on paper. Drawing upon his father’s experience of being incarcerated at Tule Lake Segregation Center, Baugh-Sasaki’s cave photos look at the role we play in shaping our surroundings and the way it in turn shapes us and our perception of place.
Lisa K. Blatt examines issues of site and sight (perception, light, space), media, and politics, including climate and pop culture. Her work straddles the representational and phenomenological–how one may see the landscape, as well as how landscape may represent both being and non-being, presence and absence, infinity and finality. Raised in St. Louis, Blatt feels more at home in extreme landscapes, using the environment to shape her stories.
Ala Ebtekar is an artist, researcher, and educator who works between his native San Francisco Bay Area and Tehran, Iran. Born in Berkeley, California to Iranian activist/artist parents, his work currently disquiets dominant notions of identity and complicates cultural difference. Ebtekar is represented in Thekla by 'Azimuth,' a four-panel cyanotype on canvas, formed by starlight, using a negative from NASA’s Hubble Telescope. The Hubble Deep Field was the first image of the distant cosmos in their infancy. Invented by astronomer John Herschel, the cyanotype was a way to reproduce notes and diagrams, leading to its use in the creation of ‘blueprints.’
Yetunde Olagbaju is a multidisciplinary artist and collaborator currently residing in Oakland, CA. Their work considers time travel, space, source, vulnerability, ancestry, and the human relationship to the Blackness of the universe. With video, installation, performance, photography, sound, and ritual they aim to sort through how we, as human beings, orient ourselves through our emotional and physical landscapes—our timeless internal and external worlds.
Elia Vargas is an Oakland based artist and curator, co-founder and co-curator of the Living Room Light Exchange, organizer of the Soundwave Biennial, and a PhD candidate in Film and Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz. His work Crude Illumination traces the histories of commercial crude oil products–such as Edgar Cayce’s Pennsylvania Crude Oil Scalp Treatment, the product used in this work; oil extraction narratives; projection technology genealogies, such as the origin of the overhead projector, and the entanglement of hydrocarbons and mysticism that implicates flows of oil addiction throughout ecological and cultural spaces over the past 150 years.
Marvin K. White uses poetry, specifically theopoetics, to open a dialogue that argues for sacredness for us all. In White’s writing, we are all the creation myth, the immaculate conception, the resurrection and the kingdom come. He methodically unhinges sacred text until all of creation is freed from a past, present, and future control of life.