MEET THE ARTISTS
2023 Artist in Residence
Molly Gambardella (based in Connecticut, USA) is an artist who primarily works in sculpture and installation. She is interested in critically engaging with the interplay between social, economic and biological systems as a way to investigate how these relationships shape the changing conditions of life. She interacts and investigates a diverse range of autopoietic organisms through immersion in order to question concepts of comfort and disrupt an increasingly artificial and culturally hegemonic world. This practice results in Gambardella creating large-scale works that inspire interaction and conjure collective experiences in indoor and outdoor places. Lichen, horseshoe crabs, waterways, fungi and asters are all recurring in her practice that speak to the relationship that humans have to death, and how that translates into controlling life for the sake of prolonging life. By exploring systems on geologic and human time scales, her work imagines potential possibilities by reconnecting with the nature found within ourselves.
2020 Artist in Residence
Anthony A. Russell is an interdisciplinary artist of Irish/Scottish and Mexican descent based in San Francisco. He is an alumnus of the San Francisco Art Institute and has been a creative contributor to underground film and stage projects by the Brothers Kuchar, Dreams for Dead Cats Productions, and Peaches Christ Productions. His short films have screened at festivals in California and New York. His horror feature "The Beast in Heat" has screened in California and in cities across Europe. He has produced multimedia installations in the San Francisco Bay Area at underground and established venues such as ProArts, The Galallery, The Lab, and The Fort Mason Center For the Arts. His installations employ availabist strategies from different mediums to produce abstract, site-specific extensions of more intimate, and at times severe, performances. While his films and performances have primarily addressed anxiety and negotiations of power, much of his painting aims to address ecological issues by subverting the tropes of western romanticism in order to vivify an ecstatic future of inclusive fecundity.
2019 Artist in Residence
2019 Artist in ResidenceAs an artist, my eye is often drawn toward the fallen and my hands yearn to resurrect and redeem that which is considered valueless. This has evolved into a daily ritual of foraging local objects that the wild world has discarded to the earth; feathers, leaves, flowers, bones and how, just for a moment, the resurgence of these objects, colors, textures, shapes into a collaboration of proximity can bring forth new forms of beauty and memory. The practice of building my art is a practice of obeying the place and time I am in. Every object I use is discovered in or around the place I build it. Every altar I create is informed and governed by forces larger than me: the sun, the wind, the rain, the traveling creatures, the season, the unexpected and unpredictable, etc. It is an honest dialogue between the human and non-human world and an ever-changing conversation with moving pieces. In today’s overly virtual landscape, I want my viewers to be enchanted by each altar's capacity to awaken their imagination, their awe, their nuanced eye and deep love and connection with the magic and mystery of our earth. I long to have my audiences linger on that ephemeral edge where death and rebirth bring forth and ancient remembering and a new impermanent beauty.
MIKA AONO BOYD
2018 Artist in Residence
Every time I see a rusty nail on the ground, I put it in my pocket. I dream of what it was before and what it might become. Once I made a sculpture with discarded nails I happened upon and re-membered them. To "remember" is to put back together, to make whole. In my work, I'm interested in giving broken, cast-aside things new life. I want to find the meaning in meaningless. The compulsion to collect detritus seems a pointless gesture, yet it is precisely this "odd" behavior that reveals who we are. I explore the humanness of absurdity and futility through laborious processes, finding value in failure. I cherish a process of making that invites lived experience and fantasy of what could be. In my early 20's I escaped Japan and came to the US. As a woman and resident "alien" I often think about what it means to go across geographical and emotional borders. This question of fitting in is deeply embedded in the objects I create. I purposely place myself in a bind to generate a mass from small hand-crafted objects. As a Japanese woman, I've been told numerously I must be quiet and demure. I don't accept this stereotype: I want to make work that has sensitive, delicate details, but are bold. I embrace contradiction, parodying my identity as one who doesn't "fit" in a category. What I see, hear, and feel in everyday life —an overheard conversation, the slurry of paper pulp, or an entangled ivy vine creeping up on a concrete wall— allures me and becomes a starting point. Often the evidence of my action is visible and the process itself becomes my art. While engaging myself in painstaking labor, I manifest everything is in a state of becoming.
2017 Artist in Residence
I am an interdisciplinary visual artist and performance maker - the stage and show are the aesthetic and psychological compass by which I approach my craft, a holy space wherein dreams are made manifest. I am interested in physical theater, or dance, which does not make use of verbal language, but instead locates its communicative power in the body and the performer’s active imagination - framed by a painter’s orientation towards composition, light, color, texture, layering, and a particular attunement to a bedrock spaciousness and emptiness. These dance investigations explore primarily non-human subject matter - animals both living and extinct, ghostly entities, and natural phenomena like volcanic eruptions and the night sky - exploring themes of illusion, desire, deep time, nature’s infinite beauty, and the primordial stories written in the human body.
DENISE SUSANNE TOWNSEND
2016 Artist in Residence
Denise is an interdisciplinary artist whose studies and practice of holistic modalities of healing deeply influence the agency of her art. Inspired by indigenous cosmologies and culture through her many adventures to the high Andean mountains and deep Amazonian jungles of Peru, Denise moved abroad to begin formal education in the arts in Florence, Italy in 2008 and completed her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, California in 2012. Her most recent travels have brought her to Sri Lanka, Bali, Costa Rica and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where she inquisitively ventured to live and work for eighteen months upon graduation from SFAI. Awarded recent solo residencies at the Lucid Art Foundation in Inverness, California and the Ark Project in Oakland, California, Denise returned to the states and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in the United States and Europe and is part of numerous private collections at home and abroad. “The tenuous strength and fragility of matter and emotion and their inherent transformative nature lie central to my work. Sensate and emotive tracings imprint the surface of the canvas or clay, providing avenues for the translation of experience originating in the psyche, soma or exchange. I make a work in order to raze it, to see what lies beneath or behind, to investigate the shadow surface and to recreate new form through what is revealed inside an often tumultuous dialogue...enchanted by the alchemical forces that transform a thing into something new. Offering a whisper of the intensity of subtle phenomenon and transient internal landscapes, my work attempts to create a field of resonance echoing the refuge of the pregnant still point that lies within the fissure of chaos, flux and fragmented form.” In Townsend’s newest collection of paintings she experiments with a palate of paints infused with ancient medicines and materials of the earth, employing alchemical agencies as metaphorical messages through the methods and media from which their voices emerge.
Tobias Tovera is an American visual artist whose work explores the intersection of nature, art and consciousness. Using materials subject to metamorphism, Tovera seeks to discover what he calls “transmuted spaces,“ places where energy can shift, change, or renew itself, by experimenting with alchemical processes. From the diffusion of mineral pigments to the permutation of base metals, his work reveals the connection between the physical, metaphysical, and elemental realms, through which new forms are created. Tovera’s process is an attempt to capture physical and psychic topographies, informed by the way certain materials interact, transform, and self-organize. Each layer that is formed, each element introduced, is part of an intuitive movement between the artist and the materials themselves: a performative ritual that embodies the meditative state.
Tobias Tovera was born in Sacramento, California and studied at the California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in the United States, Asia and Europe, and is part of numerous private, public, and corporate collections. During the course of his career Tovera has developed two bodies of work in painting and a series of sculptures. His new work investigates the interplay between his paintings and his sculptures and how they inform each other. Tobias lives and works on the Mojave Desert in Yucca Valley, California, and is the founder of the Ark Project, an international artist residency program. He has been awarded residencies at Lucid Art Foundation, Root Division, and Local Language Art and has been published in American Artwork, Studio Journal Knock, Studio Visit, and Art Voices Magazine.