Surface Tension: Joseph Liatela

Surface Tension: Joseph Liatela

Absolutely honored to be curating the work of Bay Area-based artist, Joseph Liatela. Below, you will find the curatorial statement and information about the artist.


The Center for Sex & Culture will open a solo exhibition, featuring the work of Bay Area-based artist Joseph Liatela curated by Dorothy R. Santos on January 12, 2018 and on view through February 16, 2018. The exhibition includes his recent work created during his artist residency at the Kala Art Institute in nearby Berkeley, and the Vermont Studio Center Fellowship. The works explore notions of embodiment, autonomy, surveillance, and visibility.

With our quickly evolving lives inundated by mass media, the world remains a constricted and binary place steeped in white supremacy and gender-based violence. Through textile, installation, and video, Liatela presents materiality as a metaphor for the human body and skin in an ethereal manner harkening a delicate balance between body and mind. Inspired by the scholarship of author and professor Toby Beauchamp, Liatela asks the viewer to meditate and imagine the possibilities of world if such gender performativity defied the binary world we live in today.

The show contains work from Liatela’s Surface Tension series, incorporates medical technology and procedures reminiscent of traditional artistic practices of stitching and sculpture. The delicate nature of the material also carries the moments and essence of a body in transition billowing the spaces it inhabits as a remnants and signs of life. The use of sutures and organza provokes the viewer to look at, look through, and around the works simultaneously. In his video, Artful Concealment and Strategic Visibility, Liatela’s body is quickly revealed and concealed within a landscape analogous to the ways in which the trans body must traverse a multitude of spaces in the world yet remains subject to surveillance and scrutinization.

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About the Artist
Joseph Liatela is an independent multimedia artist based in Oakland, California working in printmaking, performance, and video. His work explores the way we perceive gender, sexuality, the body, memory, trans/queer intergenerational connection, and the self.

He completed his BFA from the Individualized Honors program at California College of the Arts (2017) and has performed/exhibited in numerous galleries/venues, including exhibitions for the the National Queer Arts Festival (2016), the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival (2017), SOMArts (2017), Denniston Hill (2017) , Human Resources LA (2017) and was selected as a participant in the New York Arts Practicum (2016). This fall he was an artist in residence at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California and received a fellowship to Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont.

For more information: http://www.josephliatela.com/


Surface Tension will be on view from January 12, 2018 through February 16, 2018
Opening reception: January 12th, 6-9pm
Artist Talk with scholar and theorist Julian Carter: February 5, 2018 7pm

American Gun Show featured in KQED’s Fall Arts Preview 2015

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“Liberator by Cody Wilson, printed by James Morgan.” medium: 3d print ABS, 2013

(Photo courtesy of the artist.)

Cherri Lakey for KQED writes, “Curators James Morgan and Dorothy Santos have put together an impressive exhibition of 22 artists from the U.S. and abroad to visually weigh in on the hot button topic of guns and all the territory that comes with it.” Please read the rest here.

Event ~ Strategies for Survival: Discussions on Artist’s Space in the Bay Area at The Wattis Institute

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On Saturday, May 10th from 2-4 pm at The Wattis Institute located at 360 Kansas Street (San Francisco, CA), I will be presenting at Strategies for Survival: Discussions on Artist’s Space in the Bay Area. The event brings together local artists, arts workers, and attending audience members and welcomes a presentation of case studies on various tactics implemented by local art practitioners to maintain studies on varying tactics implemented by local art practitioners to maintain a creative practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. Participants include myself, Erin McElroy, Emma Spertus, and Mark Inglis Taylor. The event is free and open to the public. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. 
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While you’re at The Wattis, please check out the Many Places at Once exhibition featuring works by Martin Soto Climent, Rana Hamadeh, Li Ran, Cinthia Marcelle, William Powhida, Ian Wallace, and Real Time and Space. The exhibition is curated by the graduating class of the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts with the support of the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.

Wishing there were 28 hours in a Day

Learning ProTools for audio and MIDI recording
Learning ProTools for audio and MIDI recording

Although wishing for 4 more hours in a day is futile, it probably wouldn’t be enough time for all the things I actually need to do (for work, school, and freelance projects). Yes. Call me crazy. Some of my friends think I’m pretty insane for trying to support a balance between the three but I guess it boils down to the feeling of productivity. I’m constantly thinking and the respite from any scholarly work is probably the gym or taking a walk between classes or walking meditation when I’m at work. In any case, I’m getting back into blogging and will be posting excerpts of work soon. Here are some of the great things that have happened:

  • During winter break, I learned my abstract was accepted as a part of the open panel submission to the Theorizing the Web 2013 (#TtW13) conference! It will be a great time to network, meet academics, artists, and writers working on research specifically about the Web, open source culture, and technology’s relationship to the Arts. I will be documenting my New York adventure on Instagram (deedottiedot), Twitter (@deedottiedot), and tumblr
  • A few days ago, I hosted a Wednesday Forum at the California College of the Arts. The forum is open to current graduate students, alumni, and faculty, interested in participating in a dialogue with writers, theorists, and/or artists actively working in Visual and Critical Studies. I had the pleasure of meeting and introducing Mabel O. Wilson. She now teaches at Columbia University in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Wilson discussed an essay she wrote for a conference on the “multi-cultural city” and meshed architecture, visual culture, and history into such a phenomenal project where she looked at Cabrini-Green (a public housing project that was located in Chicago’s Near North Side). I won’t go into it too much because I will be working on a recap of the event. Such an AMAZING scholar and so incredibly inspiring. She also recently published her book Negro Building – Black Americans and the World of Fairs and Museums (University of California Press, 2012.), which I plan on purchasing. Wishing I had it in hand so she could sign it for me…just means I need to see her again at some point in the future!
  • Through the graduate lecture series at school, my classmates and I attended a performative lecture by DJ Spooky. I snagged (thanks to the help of my dear classmate, Emily!) the book he edited a few years ago, Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture. He even signed it for me. Pretty excited to delve into the text since there are specific pieces that deal with open source and programming and their relationship to music and composing.
  • Asterisk SF’s music issue was released this past Janauary and I had the opportunity to curate a solo exhibition for David Molina! You can read the feature I wrote on his work and practice here.
Snagged a copy and a signature!
Snagged a copy and a signature!

It’s been pretty busy but always quite exciting stuff happening. Lastly, I’m FINALLY taking a grad elective where I can program. The course, Sound, Music, and Technology, gives me the chance to play around with different programming software but learn how to make music in the process. I’m hoping to get my act together at start keeping a journal of the creative process. The image above is something I’m working on for the class. We learned how to make different sound waves and manipulate pitch and noise to create timbres (among many other things). Let’s just say, I have a whole new appreciation for music!

Looking forward to sharing more with you soon! 🙂

Artist Profie: Sita Bhaumik ~ Asterisk SF Magazine Food Issue

Artist Profile: Sita Bhaumik

Technology allows us to exchange pictures of our caloric intake with the rest of the world with a few clicks, swipes, and use of a snazzy filter. Specifically, in San Francisco, a cosmopolitan place brimming with an incredibly diverse population, it’s relatively easy to experience food from a seemingly vast array of cultures. Whatever you want, San Francisco probably has a place or a person that could lead your nose and taste buds to something that will satiate you. Art offers a very similar experience. With our collective compulsive nature to share photos of things we can’t even taste or smell speaks to our collective desire to be connected. While food nourishes us, it also activates our creativity. Cooking and eating is a way to let others into the particulars of what we allow into our bodies. What happens when food is used to describe the relationships we have with ourselves, our history, culture, or our ethnicity? What happens when food becomes the medium of an artwork? Or when it goes beyond the sense of sight and envelopes you in a completely multi-sensory experience? Food provides us with a lot of information about who and what we are. Think about an ornately covered wall dusted in nothing but curry. Imagine a room filled with the aromatic smell of cinnamon. Contemplate the use of ice cream and edible inkjet prints. This makes up only a fraction of the artwork created by Bay Area installation artist, Sita Bhaumik.

As an artist, writer, and educator, Bhaumik does an extraordinary job at explaining the intricacies and constructs around weighty topics such as identity, culture, gender, and ethnicity, yet in such a whimsical, dynamic, and sometimes comical way. She manages to showcase her extreme wit and intelligence and makes history, cultural observations, and art digestible (pun intended). As a writer and scholar, Bhaumik re-invents the way in which we react to and contemplate food. She mentions in her writing, “Whether we’re in front of the television or at a museum, we arrive with tummies rumbling, ready to consume. On the one hand, food is a necessity. On the other, food is a luxury, trend, marketing opportunity, movement, and social-justice issue”. As much as food is a necessity, there are varying levels of accessibility and openness to scents and tastes that appear unfamiliar. Cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and chili powder on paper are only some of the ingredients Bhaumik uses to communicate something deeper about thought processes and perceptions of ourselves and others. Her work investigates and serves as a brilliant metaphor for the way in which we encounter someone outside of ourselves. Not only is her work elegant and meticulously done, it is an ingenious way to have people foster a different relationship with food as well.

With the wide array of fusion foods and cuisines that make up the Bay Area, it certainly is a place for the creative intellectuals to whet the community’s appetite with innovative ways of seeing and experiencing art. Bhaumik’s workis certainly a testament to the creativity and the diverse art practices found in San Francisco. As we enter into the Fall months, Bhaumik already has her schedule filled with events and a residency! She will be participating on a Scholar’s panel entitled, Food in Focus: Asian and Latin American Cross-Cultural Cooking, for the Asian Culinary Forum. As the upcoming Bathroom Resident at 18 Reasons, Bhaumik’s inaugural show for the residency will open in October. Her work is certainly an experience. So, the next time you consider playing with your food, you want to think what Bhaumik may do given those same ingredients.

To learn more about artist Sita Bhaumik, visit her website here

Originally posted to Asterisk SF Magazine + Gallery site, please view here 

Meridian Gallery, Gallery Profile published to Asterisk SF Magazine’s Throwback Issue

Meridian Gallery Profile

On a clear, breezy evening on any given opening exhibition night, glowing lights emanate into the street from Meridian Gallery, revealing an exquisite exterior as well as an equally timeless and beautiful interior on the 500 block of Powell Street. The 100-year-old Victorian building certainly perseveres through the city’s constant evolution. Architect C.A. Meussdorffer designed the structure in 1911, and it remains the only single-family home left in such a bustling and highly trafficked area of San Francisco.

Even though the original design and construction was not of a gallery, the space is not too dissimilar to a home. Although, in a different context, Meridian is a home—to artists, educators, writers and young, budding art professionals, as a place to nurture existing skills and learn new ones. Based on the function and architecture, it’s probable that Meussdorffer didn’t intend for the space to become one of San Francisco’s beacons for art and cultural awareness. Yet the staff of Meridian Gallery makes it a home for the San Francisco arts community. The gallery is an exemplary reflection of the city’s diversity and rich, growing culture. As Imin Yeh, assistant director, states, “The space becomes this beautiful analogy for the architectural, political and critical history of San Francisco, and the home is a container for Meridian Center for the Arts’ numerous contributions and relationship to San Francisco’s Past and Future.” But the Financial District is not necessarily known for its alternative art spaces. With its beautiful hardwood floors and three levels of visual arts, Meridian remains one the most unique art spaces in the city. From its location to its architecture, it proves itself as a perfect place for cultivating ideas and serves as fertile ground for artists.

Meridian is widely known for helping break down racial and cultural barriers by showcasing artists with the same goal, in both their works and their art practices. From poetry readings to performing arts, many of the artists work with San Francisco youth to help bridge gaps and bring awareness through the arts. The Meridian Interns Program (MIP) assists high school students in learning more about the business of art, the community and art’s relationship to culture. Yeh reflects on the program’s objective: “It provides San Francisco low-income teens a safe space to work after school that combines real-world arts and administrative job skills with studio practice led by amazing teachers who are also working artists. Participating youths are often faced with complex challenges, including the need to provide financial support for their families. With MIP, they are not only getting the space to engage in artistic projects and job skills, but getting paid wages for their participation.” The program facilitates disciplined practice for students interested in pursuing a career in the arts as well as practical skills for those wanting to learn more about the administrative and curatorial side of running a gallery. MIP enables students to foster a sense of responsibility and to learn valuable business skills.

Although Meridian Gallery was established in the 1980s, the physical space seems to have been made especially for this gallery and community. In looking back, it’s also important to ponder the future, and between the wide array of diverse artists, scholars, curators, volunteers and students, Meridian will certainly see another 100 years in San Francisco.

Upcoming exhibitions include The Painted Word: Paintings, Drawings and Collages by Poets From the Beat Generation Era. To learn more about this exhibition, please visit meridiangallery.org.

On June 16, Zina Al-Shukri and Maja Ruznic will be on exhibition in To Draw, to Transpose.

Originally posted to Asterisk SF Magazine. Please view here.