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Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Presents Works by Ten Renowned Artists
Flying, Jennifer Campbell. Photo courtesy of the artist.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) is proud to present Through Future Eyes: The Endurance of Humanity on Apr 24–Jul 5, 2009. This ground-breaking exhibition is curated by six young high school women from YBCA’s Young Artists at Work (YAAW) program and features ten renowned local and international artists. YAAW is an innovative education program, created by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which offers youth a hands-on experience in curating, art-making, and media activism. In 2008, YAAW provided a youth curatorial class for the first time—an opportunity rarely provided by major art institutions. The young women’s stories collectively represent the multi-cultural, technologically savvy and often confusing world of teenage life growing up in San Francisco. The curators of Through Future Eye are: Scarlett Giesbrecht, Rosa Gomez, Marisol Gonzalez, Monica Guerra, Alexa Gutierrez and Khristine Manalang.

From the boldly iconic graphic art of Shepard Fairey to the haunting video art of Melissa Day, and the politically charged posters and silk-screens of Juan R. Fuentes to Claudia Bernardi’s “frescoes on paper,” Through Future Eyes explores the universal and transcendental experience of endurance. The YAAW curatorial team recognizes that endurance is a universal truth that affects all people, regardless of age, race, gender, nationality or economic circumstances. Artists featured in the exhibition are: Eric Araujo, Claudia Bernardi, Caleb Duarte, Jennifer Campbell, Chukes, Melissa Day, Shepard Fairey, Juan R. Fuentes, Michael Namkung and Katherine Sherwood.

“YBCA recognizes the important role that art can play in the lives of youth through its Young Artists at Work Program. Through Future Eyes: The Endurance of Humanity pulls back the curtain on the mind of youth today, reflecting the challenges and complexity of surviving and thriving in contemporary society,” said Ken Foster, Executive Director of YBCA.

Through Future Eyes: The Endurance of Humanity is part of YBCA’s Imagining Our Future series, one of the three Big Ideas that guide this season’s programming. In the midst of an ever-changing world, many artists wonder about what the future holds and what they can create to make life more enriching. Artists imagine a future that is as complex, rich and challenging as the present, but also one that is surprising and maybe even startling. YBCA brought together a group of artists whose visions of people, the kind of world they have created, and what the future could be within it are thought-provoking and often profoundly moving. The metaphorical power of art to help imagine the unknowable is at the heart of their work. Like many around them, these artists are driven by a sense of urgency about the future.

Young Artists at Work (YAAW) Curators

Marisol Gonzalez is a senior at Lowell High School. She will attend UC Davis to major in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biologty, but her passion is also in the arts and in volunteering. She enjoys painting, photography, and volunteering at the San Francisco Zoo. She has been recognized as a National Hispanic Scholar, and lives in San Francisco’s Mission District where she was born and raised.

Monica Guerra is a senior at Balboa High School, a community activist, blogger, journalist, and an internet addict. She will attend San Francisco State University in the fall of 2009 as a Broadcast/Political Science major. Born in San Francisco, she is of Colombian and Venezuelan descent. She interns in the San Francisco District 11 office. Her dream jobs are reporting for NPR, or being the Supervisor for District 11. She is the program manager for Bal TV , and has contributed articles for Wiretap Magazine, Youth Radio, and The Buccaneer, Balboa High School’s school newspaper.

Alexa Gutierrez is a junior at International Studies Academy where she is preparing to study Environmental Studies in college. She hopes to attend the UCSF Team in Biological Studies this summer. She has won a Presidential Silver Medal Award for her academics and has also received a National Scholarship Award. She makes films for her school, enjoys playing piano, reading and drawing, loves studying, and performing with the ISA All Women’s Choir.

Rosa Gomez is a sophomore at June Jordan School of Equity. Born in San Francisco, she wants to attend college for an arts related program or to study architecture. She currently enjoys volunteering at the public library, reading, studying, writing articles for the school newspaper, and soccer. She participates in the San Francisco Teen Council, where she plans environmental and social activities for area youth.

Khristine Manalang is a junior at Abraham Lincoln High School. Khristine is an avid anime fan who was born in Manila, Philippines. Her art work has been shown at Queen Nails Annex gallery in San Francisco. She plans on studying animation in Japan and loves J-Pop (Japanese pop) music. She loves playing video games, reading, and learning Japanese.

Scarlett Geisbrecht is a junior at Gateway High School in San Francisco. She plans on pursuing an Art History major at a small liberal arts college. She is a dancer in Grrl Brigade, a performance group that operates out of Dance Mission. Scarlett enjoys writing, drawing, dancing and reading.

Through Future Eyes: The Endurance of Humanity Featured Artists

Eric Araujo contributes to our art world by investigating human nature and spirit in the post-industrial world. He aims to convey the tense, intertwined relationship between the human organic life and its technological attachments. In Araujo's work, one will see body-focused sculptures and installations made up of materials that include plastic, steel, wood, rubber and electronics. The artwork shows the human body in need of technology for survival, comfort and engagement.

Working with the Argentine Forensic Anthropology team, Claudia Bernardi has excavated and helped identify dead bodies from mass graves of human rights abuse victims throughout Latin America and in Ethiopia. The artist and human rights activist focuses her work on the victims of political violence and repression. In her prints, she often uses intense colors layered over body parts and figures.

Some people would think it is masochistic to subject one’s body to extreme or painful situations. But that is just the tactic Jennifer Campbell uses to create photos, videos and performances for the camera. She places herself in theatrical scenes, complete with apparatuses, props, dramatic action, and costumes.

Believing there's no limitation in the human form, Chukes has been sculpting figures for more than a decade. Although he attended art school, Chukes identifies himself a self-taught artist. He works with clay and other materials and often displays stylized and sometimes exaggerated female forms. He is greatly inspired by music, human emotions and especially women.

Video artist Melissa Day sweeps her viewers into a world of haunting, and passionate religious inquiry. Religion has always been a prominent theme in humanity’s history—sometimes being the cause of strife or the beacon of hope in the face of strife. Day’s work demonstrates physical, psychological and spiritual endurance in the face of hardships and makes a viewer wonder if we are enduring for ourselves in this life, or for the promise of happiness that will be our reward after we go under.

Installation artist Caleb Duarte uses new and found building materials to create installations that suggest incomplete or handmade structures and homes. In doing so, Duarte has explored how we have alternately thought of homes as places that literally shelter us and make us safe, and as symbolic sanctuaries that keep both our bodies and our ideas safe. Duarte is inspired by both the rough-hewn homes and shacks created by people in poorer parts of the country and in Brazil, Cuba, and his home country of Mexico.

Shepard Fairey's boldly graphic art portrays a timeline of war, culture, politics, and youth culture in white, black and red colors. His distinctively bold graphic pieces are loaded with political and iconic imagery, and often resemble Chinese and Soviet posters of the 20th century communist era. They are reminiscent of corporate and political branding, for the repetitiveness of the color and style, and the way Fairey's star-enclosed face logo permanently sticks in the viewer's mind. The work explores social justice and injustice, from the hypocrisy of government, to revolution and change, and the magnetic pull of pop culture.

For over a quarter of a century, master printmaker Juan Fuentes has used his art to highlight the important cultural milestones and social justice issues of the day. Working in the unforgiving linocut and woodcut techniques, he has depicted everything from farm laborers at work, political activists, and everyday grassroots citizens enduring war, poverty, and injustice with hope, perseverance and strength. He has long highlighted issues of immigration, women’s rights, and labor issues to challenge the assumptions of globalization, militarism and selfish individualism.

Michael Namkung aims to disturb the limits humans place on themselves. Using strenuous movements of his limbs and body, he turns his body into a drawing tool. He uses chalk, charcoal, ink, paint, or his own body to trace his movement across a surface. Before making a single mark, Namkung creates rigorous rules for his "exercise art", and then tries to push the creative boundaries within the rules while he is performing his art. In that way, he both sets and surpasses limits. In video-taping his work, he also disturbs the limits of artistic genre, creating work that is at the same time video art, drawing, and performance.

Katherine Sherwood focuses on the body from an unusual angle. In her paintings, she combines 17th century Solomon Seals (medieval magical symbols believed to be pictures of spirits) with ancient and contemporary medical pictures (drawings, brain scans, angiograms, infrared photography). Both the seals and the medical images provide us with a way of seeing things we can’t see with the naked eye. Sherwood has used the trauma of illness as inspiration to rethink how she paints and what she paints about to create some of the most inventive, profound, and beautiful paintings of her career.

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