Museum welcomes a new exhibition by local artists: “Who is Oakland?”
on April 16, 2015
The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is presenting a new exhibition exploring Oakland through the work of local artists.
The exhibition is called “Who is Oakland?” and is organized by Chris Johnson, the lead artist, in cooperation with the museum. The exhibition is featuring the work of nine local artists lead by Johnson, produced using different forms of art and different materials. “The most important material is the content,” said Johnson. In his piece, he took a map of Oakland, and extracted the “upper class neighborhoods” from it, and put back together a new map from the remaining “lower class” neighborhoods. He then threw darts on the map and located the spots where the darts landed, visited the people who lived there and interviewed them about their lives.
Lori Fogarty, director of the museum, said, “It all started with the question: Who is Oakland?” Local artists are trying to answer that question from their own perspective. “It reveals part of Oakland that people may not think about,” she said.
“We are very close to nature here and often don’t realize that,” said Suzan Felter, a photographer who is also included in “Who is Oakland?” She used photos of animals, such as birds, and trees, and digitally constructed a fictional scene out of the real photos.
Favianna Rodriguez created an installation, which is a name for a three-dimensional artwork, about different restaurants or grocery stores in East Oakland, showing how immigrant culture is merging with US culture and creating new ideas about what is Oakland today. “As I began to go to the supermarkets, there was a lot that I didn’t understand,” she said. “I wanted to create an installation that gave value to those who I was depicting.”
The exhibition is addressing challenging issues such as gentrification and social change, while also celebrating Oakland’s diversity of culture and natural environment. “The impression of Oakland as a blighted city is misplaced. People are proud to live in Oakland,” said Johnson.
The exhibition will be presented as an interactive experience where visitors will have the chance to add their own stories to the artists’ installations throughout the run of the exhibition, as well as online.
The exhibition will be on view from April 11 through July 12, 2015, at the museum’s Gallery of California Art.
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