Exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Mark Baugh-Sasaki, Leah Rosenberg, and San Francisco Art Institute student artist Sophia Cook on Friday, January 25, from 5-8pm and Saturday, January 26, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, January 29, from 5-7pm, with a gallery walk-through with the artists at 6pm. This exhibition will be the culmination of four months of work by the artists who have scavenged materials from the dump to make art and promote recycling and reuse.
Mark Baugh-Sasaki: Lifeboat
In installation, sculpture, and works on paper Mark Baugh-Sasaki looks at how our relationship to the landscape is inextricably tied to memory and experience. The work is personal, expressing his own thoughts and feelings about nature and the land, but also draws on the experiences of others to convey a sense of universality made bittersweet in the face of global climate change. Found photographs and writings—in some cases quite old—about places, such as Yosemite, with which he has deep connections, have had particular resonance for him, as has the discarded lumber from old San Francisco houses which has prompted memories of his own childhood home in the city.
The work addresses change, the move from “natural” to artificial, the industrial use of geologic forms, and the cultural expressions of our relationship to the land. A fake palm tree resides next to a photographic memory of a real one; a broken marble tabletop is stacked like a cairn, and a found piece of concrete is displayed in reference to the Japanese art form suiseki. The recent California wildfires and the ominous layer of smoke they produced prompted Baugh-Sasaki to create a series of contact prints from the environment of the dump. As a metaphor for the time we live in, the prints become physical manifestations of the geological mark we are leaving on the planet. The work produced during the residency has served as a way for Baugh-Sasaki to process his own anxieties about, and navigate through, a changing world, while also serving to connect past, present, and future landscapes in unexpected ways.
Baugh-Sasaki received an MFA from Stanford University. He has been an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts and at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, is a recipient of an Irvine Fellowship, and has participated in the I-Park Environmental Art Biennale. He has exhibited locally at venues including the Berkeley Art Center, and Intersection for the Arts, SOMArts, Minnesota Street Project, and Kearny Street Workshop in San Francisco.
Leah Rosenberg: What Goes Around
Leah Rosenberg makes paintings, paint-based sculptures, and site-specific installations that focus on the role of color in our lives and its emotional or psychological impact. While she usually has paint specifically mixed to match colors she encounters in her environment, at Recology the colors have come to her courtesy of San Franciscans who have brought unwanted paint to the Household Hazard Waste Program for recycling. Rosenberg has used this eclectic palette for time-based actions, walking in the studio pouring continuous streams of changing colors, that once dry, can be pealed up, cut, draped, rolled into balls, or otherwise manipulated. Her process has resulted in a marbling effect that brings various people's colors together in free-form meetings, and also connects to her background of making cakes.
In a twist of fate that only the dump can provide, Rosenberg found components from one of her past projects in the pile. While scavenging she was drawn to certain colors protruding from the mass of discarded materials that seemed oddly familiar. Slowly, she realized she was seeing a group of discarded wooden stands, each painted in a color specifically chosen by her, which had been constructed to display cakes she had made for the SFMOMA Birthday Bash in 2017, a one night event with the theme “monochrome.” Repurposing the dowels and disks, Rosenberg uses them as canvases for poured paint works. She transforms the formerly monochromic cake stands into multi-colored paintings and sculptures, and embraces the surreal serendipity of the residency experience.
Rosenberg has been an artist-in-residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, the Workshop Residence in San Francisco, and at Facebook in Palo Alto. She is the recipient of a Kala Fellowship, an Irvine Fellowship at the Montalvo Arts Center, and has exhibited at venues including Southern Exposure and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. She was the creative director of the pop up Color Factory, and her book, The Color Collector’s Handbook, was released by Chronicle Books in 2018. She received an MFA from the California College of the Arts.
Sophia Cook: Longing for a Future
Sophia Cook creates sculptures that present enlarged photocopier prints of small found objects on structures made from concrete, styrofoam, and metal. Parts from a broken harpsichord are the subject of several pieces, as is plumbing tubing. The work is informed by political theorist Jane Bennett’s concept of “vibrant objects”—a political ecology of things that elevates inanimate objects from materials acted upon by us to actors that produce effects. Cook’s deep meditations on the items she has encountered while scavenging means that even the smallest components are considered fully, and as in the case of the harpsichord—a literal vibrant or vibrating instrument—the power, beauty, and fragility of these objects is conveyed. As with Bennet’s theoretical construct, Cook’s goal is to bring awareness to the intertwined human/object relationship with the hope that it will lead to a more responsible approach to how and why we acquire, accumulate, and discard things, inspiring new ways of thinking rooted in ecological ethics.
Cook holds a BFA from Hampshire College and will receive an MFA in interdisciplinary art and MA in art theory from the San Francisco Art Institute in May. She was the recipient of a 2018 Cadogan Scholarship, and exhibited at SOMArts in the Annual Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Exhibition.