Sampling SF State's Faculty Art Exhibition

Monday, May 18, 2020

SQUARE CYLINDER (SAN FRANCISCO) -- What follows, then, is a virtual view of highlights from a now-closed exhibition of works by 23 SF State art faculty members and staff. Like most such shows, this one, curated by Kevin B. Chen and Sharon E. Bliss, comes without a theme; its sole purpose is to showcase the department’s strengths.

It is, if nothing else, diverse, and not just in terms of ethnicity, gender and attitude. Works on view span painting, installation, drawing, textiles, sculpture, ceramics, video, photography, the internet and various hybrid forms. Collectively, they address a wide range of issues.

One of the exhibition’s most innovative works, The Wall – The World, comes from Paula Levine. Conceived initially as a website using Google Earth, this split-screen video allows users to visually transport the West Bank wall to any city in the world, with predictable results. In Manhattan and Berlin, for example, the wall slices through neighborhoods and even buildings; in San Francisco, it meanders across the Bay, behaving a bit like Cristo’s Running Fence, but without any apparent purpose. When changes to Google’s app rendered the piece inoperable, Levine harvested the footage and recast it as a “drone-view symphony” with an eerie soundtrack by the cellist Frances-Marie Uitti. The remake, portions of which I was able to view, demonstrates the impact of propagating dumb ideas (i.e., border walls) on a global scale.