I Am Maneuvering With Difficulty

I Am Maneuvering With Difficulty

Embark Gallery is pleased to present Angela Willetts as one of three inaugural artists of R&D Projects, a series of research-intensive postgraduate fellowships and summer solo exhibitions. In researching Fort Mason’s history and following conversations with National Park Service historians, Willetts’ explorations of the defunct military base led her to consider how the psychology of fear and defense systems currently operate within her own life. Borrowing military strategies and languages, her work underscores themes of vulnerability and protection through task-based performances, drawings, and handmade, site-specific flags.

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Lurid Ecologies & A Few Select Bits of All Knowledge

July 28 – August 19
Opening Reception Friday, July 28, 5-8pm

Embark Gallery is pleased to present Tanja Geis and Christopher Nickel as the inaugural artists of R&D Projects, a series of research-intensive postgraduate fellowships and summer solo exhibitions. With this program, we are extending our support of emerging MFA artists to their postgraduate careers by offering graduated artists who have previously shown with Embark the opportunity to develop new scholarly and investigative projects in partnership with local nonprofits. Geis was paired with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Nickel responded to the Internet Archive.


Lurid Ecologies: Ways of Seeing the Bay

Tanja Geis | UC Berkeley 2015

Geis has partnered with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) to develop an exhibition responding to their work monitoring, conserving and restoring the San Francisco Bay. For Embark, Geis reimagines the substrates set in the bay for colonization by Ostrea lurida, the native oyster, for a series of phantasmagoric drawings made using mud pigment from the Bay. These drawings are shown alongside a 3-channel video installation, shot in research tanks at the Romberg Tiburon Center.

Ostrea lurida. Lurid oyster. The etymology of “lurid” is uncertain yet some of its earliest uses referred to the interplay of light and darkness, the aspect of things when the sky is overcast, the color of smoky flames, or perhaps the appearance of sunlight filtered through silty Bay waters. These works consider the vitally important, complex, and often turbid endeavor of SERC's research, and its techniques and apparatus, to address how scientific and aesthetic framing of complex ecologies inform how we look and what goes unseen. The restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay is part of the Living Shorelines Project which is funded by the California State Coastal Conservancy.

Geis makes paintings, installations, videos and participatory events that explore liminal and mongrel spaces as zones for the transformation of ecological perception. She holds an MFA in Art Practice from UC Berkeley, an MRM in Marine Management from the University of Akureyri, Iceland, and a BA in Fine Art from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited at the Berkeley Art Museum, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and venues in New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, the UK, Japan, and Iceland. She was born in Hong Kong and lives in Oakland, CA.


A Few Select Bits of All Knowledge: A Visual Archive

Christopher Nickel | Stanford 2015

For A Few Select Bits of All Knowledge: A Visual Archive, Nickel mines the image collection of the Internet Archive—an ever-expanding visual database of user generated digital (and digitized) media—for the raw materials to create large-scale scroll-like tableaus. These digital collages of seemingly unrelated images have been filtered through the eclectic categories employed by the Whole Earth Catalog—a publication that acted as compendium and how-to guide for the utopian visions enacted by the self-sufficient back-to-the-land communities of the 1960s and 70s. Visually drawing the two together acknowledges both the active role that the Whole Earth Catalog took in promoting digital networks as the emerging form for self-organizing communities, while also serving as a direct model for our current Internet-based aggregators, searches engines, and the non-hierarchical system the Internet Archive has applied to its multiple repositories as they seek to fulfill their mission of providing “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”

In his recent projects, Nickel has focused on the physical presence of the Internet, attempting to recast its virtual, disembodied appearance as a physical object— a single fantastically complex body with mass and material, with a long history of evolution, existing in specific geographic locations. He holds an MFA from Stanford University, a BFA from California College of the Arts, and lives and works in Oakland, CA.

Upcoming: I Am Maneuvering with Difficulty

August 25 – September 16
Angela Willetts | UC Davis 2016

Willetts, following conversations with National Park Service historians, has created a body of work addressing the history of the Fort Mason campus and the semiotics of naval and military infrastructures. Using open­-ended, experience-­based inquiry around physical materials to explore ideas of entanglement and interdependence, Willetts' work encompasses sculpture, performance, installation and video. Originally from the UK, she has lived and worked in the Bay Area for the last eighteen years. 

Artist Websites

Embark Gallery
Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
2 Marina Blvd., Bldg. B, Ste. 330
San Francisco, CA 94123

Gallery Hours
Saturdays and Sundays 12 – 5pm or by appointment from July 28 – August 19

Press Preview
Thursday, July 27, 10am – 5pm [by appointment]

Press Contact
Christopher Squier, christopher@embarkgallery.com

Press Release: F Exhibition at Embark Gallery

Six emerging artists explore the theme of failure in Embark’s newest show.

Whitney Aguiniga. Not for Nothing, 2016. Archival Pigment Print.

Whitney Aguiniga. Not for Nothing, 2016. Archival Pigment Print.

This Spring, as students earn their degrees from the 8 Bay Area institutions Embark Arts supports, Embark Gallery presents a show exploring failure. Inevitably an integral part of the creative process, failure is often touted as the symbol of valiant artists experimenting with new ideas, methods or media. This exhibition aims to instead showcase failure as a valid conceptual strategy on its own, and not just the byproduct of artistic risk-taking. Presenting alternatives to “success” as it is commonly understood, the artists in this exhibition use subversive modes of failure to both political and aesthetic ends.

Whitney Aguiniga (Mills) works in humorous photography that speaks to the humiliation of artistic trials and tribulations. Exploring different materials and challenging herself to take the meticulously rendered photographs with no outside help, Aguiniga toes the line between success and failure while commenting on the archetype of ‘The Artist’, similar to how Cindy Sherman before her addressed ‘The Woman’. For Keith Daly (SJSU), the presentation of a book of rejected applications to previous Embark shows is a droll exercise in self-deprecation and irony. It not only outlines a most common experience for emerging artists and graduate students, but is also a nod to past conceptual art that catalogs failure, like Michael Asher’s “The Museum As Muse,” in which Asher edited a catalog of all the works deaccessioned by the MoMA since 1929.

Mattson Fields. Maybe if you had let me take karate I wouldn’t be gay, 2016 Nunchaku, faux fur.

Mattson Fields. Maybe if you had let me take karate I wouldn’t be gay, 2016 Nunchaku, faux fur.

Flavia D’Urso (CCA) is a ceramic sculptor whose work speaks to corporeal vulnerability- the failure of the body in the face of decay and when corrupted by the machine. Mattson Fields (Mills) explores the binary expectations of identity as both a man and a gay man, to embrace masculinity or to reject it. In his own words, “I oscillate between the two, never truly achieving either.” Tamara Porras (CCA) presents a heartfelt research project she began upon discovering the man who raised her was not her biological father. This exploration of the failure of family, memory and heritage reveals how one’s search for selfhood can often be futile, or at least out of our immediate control. Meganne Rosen (CCA) addresses the failure of the nation in the 2016 election. Inspired by the “subversive pockets of women” in the Midwest who did not vote for Trump, and disgusted by the 53% who did, Rosen has created a visual representation of the violent ideological rupture in contemporary American politics.

Press Previews by appointment.

Opening Reception: Friday, June 16, 2017. 6-9pm.

Hours: 12–5pm every Saturday and Sunday, June 17- July 22, 2017.

Media Contact:

Angelica Jardini | Curatorial Director


Embark Partners with the Headlands to present Grad Fellow Show

The 2016-2017 Headlands Graduate Fellows explore the modes and methods of art practices in a multitude of ways. 

Saturday, May 20th through Wednesday, June 7.
Opening Reception: Sunday, May 21st, 1–4PM.

No End in Sight presents the work and practices of Headlands’ 2016–17 Graduate Fellows. In the spirit of the organization’s history of encouraging artistic exploration and experimentation, this exhibition travels the path of an idea to fruition, taking various routes and perspectives. What happens when we begin to understand an art practice as an evolution rather than a result-oriented endeavor? Whether it be with meticulous research, collection of scientific data, sketches as preparation for acts of chance, the organic development of the handmade, thinking through digital culture via analog devices, or the act of autobiographical documentation, No End in Sight asks fruitful questions rather than presenting final answers.

Curatorial Statement

By Tania Houtzager & Angelica Jardini

In an increasingly commodified art world, No End In Sight aims to refocus our attentions from the product to the process of seven artists who have been thinking through their own practice and its place at the Headlands Center for the Arts. This exhibition reveals how these artists approach problems, think through complex subjects, and eventually decide how best to present their findings and creations to the public. While their results are quite varied, Shannon Abac, Jose Figueroa, Kunlin He, Cy Keener, Nicole Lavelle, Holden Schultz, and Angela Willetts all take us on conceptual journeys through their unique modus operandi.

Nicole Lavelle, 2017

Nicole Lavelle, 2017

Inspired by Headlands’ coastal location, the work of Cy Keener and Nicole Lavelle both probe for information from the land and the sea. Keener roots his process in scientific research and the poetic ephemeral. His handmade buoys, launched into the ocean and tracked by GPS, are designed to send measurements of waves and the color of the sky back to his studio. Prototypes, sketches, molds, and photographs show how the artist developed his objects, and how they remain in open-ended progress. Lavelle also utilizes research in her practice, on both cultural and personal levels, to create compelling narratives. Using an old family cabin as a starting point, Lavelle interweaves facets of her own life into an interpretive investigation of land use, housing, culture, and community in Marin County. Her experimental visual essay will turn social practice project as she performs a live lecture in which she guides the audience through the complexities and eccentricities of this site in contemporary California.

Kunlin He, 2017

Kunlin He, 2017

Like Keener and Lavelle, Kunlin He and Jose Figueroa use fact-based research to reimagine the historical through a personal lens. Kunlin He focuses on Headlands’ military history, interweaving Chinese folk tales with his findings to question preconceived notions of fixed chronology. The result is a unique amalgam of fact and fiction, presented via traditional Chinese ink painting techniques and contemporary installation. Jose Figueroa similarly explores personal history through autobiographical paintings that act as a vibrant diary, providing insight to the artist’s inner life and thought process. Together, the paintings become a symbolic archive, full of talismans of specific places and times that simultaneously form the basis of a potentially life-long project.

Holden Schultz, 2017

Holden Schultz, 2017

Angela Willetts, Shannon Abac, and Holden Schultz each explore the potentialities of their mediums. Willetts tests the boundaries of objects and subjects in video documentation methods of her performance practice. Through the relationship between her body and various materials, she deconstructs the binary of the self and other, and opens a dialogue with endless possibilities. While her performances originate as dedicated tasks, the act of doing subsumes her original goals. Abac also explicitly presents the effects of working processes in her large sculptural vessels with accompanying maquettes. The elements of chance and risk are clearly rendered, presented as the results of experiments with an array of materials, thus expanding the definition of ceramic art. Schultz disassembles and reconstructs obsolete technology—including projectors, cameras, and scanners—into functional objects, ultimately reimagining the ways that photography might provide new ways of seeing. At its most powerful, Schultz’s work presents a reinvention of image creation through an ingenious hybridity of the old and new. His work, like all of the artists’ works in the exhibition, is dedicated to imagining new paths, connections, and horizons.

About The Graduate Fellowship Program

Headlands’ Graduate Fellowships is a year-long studio program for recent MFA graduates in partnership with esteemed Bay Area academic institutions. Graduate Fellows are given the support of a private studio, public presentation opportunities, and participation in Headlands’ peer-to-peer community of local, national, and international artists.

This event is part of the Headlands's off-site program series while their campus is currently closed to the public for construction on The Commons. The Headlands is co-presenting and collaborating with several Bay Area cultural organizations and partners; see all off-site events here.

Announcing our Fort Mason Young Artist Summer Program

Announcing our Fort Mason Young Artist Summer Program

Embark Arts is thrilled to announce its first education program, Fort Mason Young Artists Summer Program! In partnership with the City College of San Francisco, this program offers two week-long summer classes to middle and high school students taught by current and recently graduated MFA students. These classes give the students the opportunity to work with emerging artists, learn about aspects of those artists' practices, and participate in a pop-up show at Embark Gallery! For the MFA student teachers, it provides a chance to gain teaching experience through the institution of City College and to match their practices to middle and high school pedagogy.

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