Join OMCA for a special all-day symposium showcasing artists, activists, and performers who are creating powerful and engaging work that shifts the field of public art practice. Artists, arts professionals, and art enthusiasts are invited to learn, share their experiences, and discuss the challenges and opportunities of engaging communities through artistic experimentation in public space. The symposium is part of the Rainin Foundation's Open Spaces Program, which funds temporary place-based public art projects in Oakland and San Francisco that engage communities, support artistic experimentation, and energize public spaces.
As part of OMCA at 50 Community Conversation series, the day-long program, which will be guided by Liz Ogbu, designer, spatial justice activist, and Founder of Studio O, includes an inspiring keynote address from Public Matters, a Los Angeles-based, award-winning creative studio for civic engagement. The day continues with two back-to-back breakout sessions where participants can learn more about an artist’s practice, and the opportunities and challenges in working in public space. Hear from nationally recognized artists speaking on topics ranging from documenting migration stories to considering how architecture shapes how we move. Be a part of this riveting, one-day event with lectures, demonstrations, site-specific performances, and collaborative art.
Along with the keynote speaker, Public Matters, guests can choose one program from each of the two identical back-to-back sessions. Lunch will be provided.
Please rank your first, second, and third preference for the two breakout sessions. Each session is first-come, first-serve and selecting a session does not guarantee a spot. Capacity is limited.
Tickets are $20 for Members and $25 for general admission. Ticket does not include gallery admission.
Opening, Keynote, and Conversation
Break Out Session A
Break Out Session B
Mike Blockstein is a visual artist and educator with a long track record of expanding the boundaries of the arts. He is Principal of Public Matters, a Los Angeles-based creative studio for civic engagement that uses socially engaged art to leverage greater inclusion, public participation and transformative change. He developed and co-leads Public Matters’ leadership development initiative, Urban Futures Lab. His work addresses art’s role in civic life, working with diverse groups and institutions of varying scale to reflect on, understand and shape their physical, social and political geographies. Mike's work draws its roots and inspiration from his time with Southern Exposure where he formerly served as Executive Director. Mike is also a rare visual artist with a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School.
Reanne Estrada is a visual artist based in Los Angeles. Her poly-disciplinary arts practice includes individual and collaborative works that have taken her across the U.S. and to the Philippines, South Korea, Italy, and Argentina. She is Co-Founder and Creative Director of Public Matters, a social enterprise engaged in collaborative, creative acts for public good, and is one-third of "Mail Order Brides/M.O.B.” a Filipina-American artist girl gang. Her work explores how bodies negotiate their identities, navigate shared and at times contested spaces, and reimagine their power within and outside existing systems.
A designer, urbanist, and spatial justice activist, Liz is an expert on engaging and transforming unjust urban environments globally. From designing shelters for immigrant day laborers in the U.S. to a water and health social enterprise for low-income Kenyans, Liz has a long history of working with/in communities in need to leverage the power of design to catalyze deep social impact. She is the founder and principal of Studio O, a multidisciplinary design and innovation firm that works at the intersection of racial
nd spatial justice.
Her projects have been featured in museum exhibitions and profiled in publications globally. Her honors include IDEO.org Global Fellow, TEDWomen Speaker, and one of Public Interest Design’s Top 100. She earned architecture degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University.
Over the past ten years artists, Sergio De La Torre and Chris Treggiari have utilized primary and secondary research methods which have included talking with nonprofits and their constituents and civic institutions, as well as periodicals, think-tanks, and internet research. Through this process of collecting and researching, the artists then utilize engagement platforms to share their research and continue collection with the public.
Since 2010, Kristin Damrow & Company (KDC) has showcased 15 original contemporary dance works, including three evening- length performances, that enrich and activate the community. In January 2019, KDC premiered Impact, a work inspired by the egalitarian philosophy within Brutalist architecture. The company has been supported by the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Opportunity Fund, CA$H Grant, and the Center for Cultural Innovation. KDC has earned notices in Dance Magazine, Fast Company, Backstage and Disegno magazines, among others.
Artistic Director / Choreographer Kristin Damrow grew up on a rural farm in Wisconsin before studying in Chicago where she earned a B.A. in Dance from Columbia College. Since moving to San Francisco in 2010, she has been commissioned by Airbnb Design Talks, FOG Design + Art, SAFE House Arts’ Summer Performance Festival, Marin School of the Arts, and Articulate Austin in Austin, TX. She was also a resident artist at Iowa State University in 2018 and has taught master classes in dance at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia College Chicago, Gibney Dance (NYC), Bodyvox in Portland, and the University of San Francisco.
De Nichols is a designer, social entrepreneur, and keynote lecturer who mobilizes young creative change-makers through the production of interactive experiences, digital media, and social initiatives.
Based in St. Louis, MO, Nichols is the Principal of Design & Social Practice at Civic Creatives, a design and strategy collective she founded in 2015 to help cities more boldly develop creative solutions for the civic and social challenges residents face. As a national keynote presenter and lecturer, Nichols champions the power of design and storytelling to inspire and equip audiences to spark creative social change across their communities.
Because of her leadership, Nichols has been deemed as a national Ideas that Matter recipient, a two-time Clinton Global Initiative innovator, and a St. Louis Visionary for her community impact. She additionally is a 2017/18 Citizen Artist Fellow of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and a 2018 Artist Fellow with the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis, MO.
Szu-Han Ho's work in sculpture, performance, installation, and text addresses the practice of exchange through diverse forms of collaboration. Recent projects include “Migrant Songs,” a choral performance art piece incorporating stories and songs of human and nonhuman migration; “BORDER TO BAGHDAD,” an exchange between artists from the US-Mexico border and Baghdad, Iraq; and “Shelter in Place,” a sculptural installation and performance inspired by her family’s history in Taiwan. Szu-Han lives and works in Albuquerque, NM and is currently Associate Professor in Art & Ecology in the Department of Art at the University of New Mexico.
Rachel Sadd, aka The Crafty Avenger, is a Bay Area-based artist, designer, and maker. She has been creating her whole life – whether crafting, drawing, sewing, painting, cooking or gardening – and she shows no sign of letting up. She loves DIY, creative re-use and upcycling, garment design for real bodies, teaching and sharing skills, learning new things and especially collaborating. Her unique energy and willingness to try things inspire those around her to engage their creativity and stretch their skillsets. Equally engaged by beauty and utility, she creates projects which span genres and challenge ideas about art, craft, and culture. Rachel is the President of Ace Monster Toys, an Oakland-based makerspaces with a mission to promote and encourage technical, scientific and artistic skills through social collaboration, education and individual projects.
Performer, teacher, director Rhodessa Jones is Co-Artistic Director of San Francisco’s performance company Cultural Odyssey. Jones directs The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, an award-winning performance workshop committed to incarcerated women’s personal and social transformation, now in it’s 23rd year. As recipient of US Artist Fellowship, Jones expanded her work in jails and educational institutions internationally. She conducts Medea Projects in South African prisons, working with incarcerated women and training local artists and correctional personnel to embed the Medea process inside these institutions. In 2012, she was named Arts Envoy by the US Embassy in South Africa. Recent US residencies include Brown University and Scripps College Humanities Institute. Recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from CA College of the Arts, SF Bay Guardian’s Lifetime Achievement Award, SF Foundation’s Community Leadership Award, Non-Profit Arts Excellence Award by the SF Business Arts Council, and an Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theater.
Rafa Esparza is a multidisciplinary artist who was born, raised, and lives in Los Angeles. Woven into Esparza’s bodies of work are his interests in history, personal narrative, and kinship. He is inspired by his own relationship to colonization, and the disrupted genealogies that come forth as a result. Using live performance as his main mode of inquiry, Esparza employs site-specificity, materiality, memory, and (non)documentation as primary tools to interrogate and critique ideologies, power structures, and binaries that problematize the “survival” process of historicized narratives and the environments where people currently navigate and socialize. Esparza’s recent projects evolve through experimental collaborative projects grounded by laboring with land vis-à-vis adobe, a labor inherited by his father Ramon Esparza, where the artist shares institutional space and resources with invited Brown and Queer artists and cultural producers. Esparza is invested in working in the local geographies of his hometown and that of the Southwest, including Mexico and Latin America.
Join Sergio De La Torre and Chris Treggiari in a discussion and onsite demonstration of the Sanctuary City Project, where they document stories of migration, relocation, identity, and citizenship through their mobile print cart.
Witness a powerful dance performance by Kristin Damrow, inspired by Brutalist architecture and OMCA’s Brutalist building. Following the performance, Damrow will share more about her practice and her project, Impact.
Hear from interdisciplinary artist Szu-Han Ho in a presentation about Migrant Songs, a project combining choral performance, experimental visuals, sound, and interviews with migrants from the Tiwa Territory. Learn about her activism at the ICE Headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Tornillo Texas Port of Entry.
Join Rachel McCrafty of ACE Monster Toys in a hands-on activity, offering guests the opportunity to create collaboratively in community. Hear more about her work as part of the special exhibition No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man on view at OMCA.
Engage in a thoughtful conversation with Rhodessa Jones whose forty-year work, The Medea Project Theater utilizes art as an outlet for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, as well as those who are facing an HIV/AIDS diagnosis.
Join multidisciplinary artists Rafa Esparza in a discussion that dives into history and personal life. The son of Mexican immigrants, Esparza’s performance art often reflects his life experiences with colonization, queer identity, and collaborations.
Gain insight into the work of designer and strategist De Nichols, whose work focuses on supporting changemakers nationwide to develop creative approaches to the social, civic, and racial justice issues. Learn how she utilizes design to develop a vision and strategy for projects, like the Mirrored Casket, a sculpture made in the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and how she works with her community to envision a path for the future.