On View March 19 through July 17, 2022
Tammy Rae Carland, David Huffman, Lava Thomas, John Zurier Present Selections from BAMPFA’s Collection
(Berkeley, CA) February 16, 2022—The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) has partnered with four celebrated contemporary artists to illuminate new dimensions of the museum’s collection with an exhibition curated from the artists’ distinctive perspectives. For The Artist's Eye: Tammy Rae Carland, David Huffman, Lava Thomas, John Zurier, BAMPFA has invited these four Bay Area-based artists—each of whom has been featured in past BAMPFA exhibitions—to step into a new role as guest curators of an exhibition that draws from the museum’s 28,000-work art collection, which spans a range of geographies and historical periods. Each artist has selected a diverse array of works from BAMPFA’s holdings based on their own historical and aesthetic interests, bringing new insight to one of the oldest and largest university art collections on the West Coast.
The Artist’s Eye takes its title from an iconic program at London’s National Gallery during the 1980s, which invited one artist at a time to curate an exhibition from that museum’s collection. The exhibition at BAMPFA advances the museum’s robust history of artist-curated presentations from its own collection, which has included past collaborations with Andrea Fraser (1992), Nayland Blake (1995), Enrique Chagoya (1996), and Fred Wilson (2003). The Artist’s Eye is the first time that multiple artists have collaborated on an exhibition from BAMPFA’s holdings, and the first time that an artist-curated exhibition has been presented in the museum’s new building since it opened in 2016.
Building on their previous relationships with BAMPFA, Carland, Huffman, Thomas, and Zurier have delved deeply into the collection using their own artistic lens as a guide, selecting a combined total of nearly seventy-five paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and installations—including several works that have remained out of sight for decades. The artists also collaborated on the layout of the exhibition, which is organized into four discrete sections dedicated to each artist’s selections. An additional section will feature recent work by the artists themselves—including new works by Carland and Thomas created specifically for the exhibition—adding greater depth to their curatorial perspectives by placing their selections in dialogue with the artists’ own unique aesthetic vocabularies. BAMPFA has also partnered with the artists to identify for potential acquisition work by artists who are not currently represented in the collection, and whose practices resonate with the selections in The Artist’s Eye.
Each of the four artists has elected to organize their selections around distinct themes based on their own interests, in some cases including work by earlier artists that have influenced their practices. These include the following areas of focus:
● Tammy Rae Carland has chosen works that involve language and wordplay—including by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Sarah Charlesworth, and Yoko Ono, among others—as well as pioneering work by photographer Zoe Leonard, who was an important early influence on Carland’s own creative trajectory.
● David Huffman’s selectiondraws broadly on BAMPFA’s historical holdings to create a personal, non-linear reflection on aspects of art history, African American presence, and his own sensibilities and memories, featuring works that range from a Francis Bacon painting made in 1956 to a 19th-century Albumen print of an Egyptian sphinx and a Romare Beardon collage.
● Lava Thomas's curatorial presentation examines BAMPFA's relationship to Black women with a selection of works by Black women artists in BAMPFA's permanent collection. She has chosen to highlight works by Mildred Howard, Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Betye Saar, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others. The selected works span abstraction, figuration, the personal, and the political. Thomas has also collaborated with BAMPFA on identifying three works by Kenyatta Hinkle that the museum has recently acquired, two of which will be featured in the exhibition.
● John Zurier has selected works from BAMPFA’s extensive collection of traditional Chinese and Japanese landscape painting, in addition to several modern and contemporary landscapes as a reflection on quiet, solitude, weather, near and far distance: nature in art.
“We’re delighted to work with Tammy Rae Carland, David Huffman, Lava Thomas, and John Zurier, who brought their instinctive curiosity to exploring, curating, and critiquing the collection,” said Curatorial Assistant Claire Frost, who worked with the artists to organize the exhibition, along with Associate Curator Stephanie Cannizzo and Collections Engagement Associate and Academic Liaison Lynne Kimura. “The project required close collaboration on many levels and has resulted in an exhibition that illuminates their work and lived experiences as it intersects with the museum.”
In conjunction with The Artist’s Eye, BAMPFA will present a range of public programs, including exhibition tours and a panel discussion with the four artist-curators. More information about BAMPFA’s spring programming slate will be announced in the coming weeks; visit bampfa.org for the latest updates.
“This exhibition affirms BAMPFA’s artist-centric ethos and commitment to expanding and rethinking art historical narratives so that they reflect the many communities that the museum serves,” said BAMPFA Director Julie Rodrigues Widholm. “It’s especially meaningful to us to witness four artists from the Bay Area community who have been internationally acclaimed for their unique creative practices apply that same singularity of vision to BAMPFA’s collection.”
About Tammy Rae Carland
Tammy Rae Carland was born in Portland Maine, and now lives and works in the Bay Area. An artist who works with photography, video, sculpture and small-run publications, her work engages conceptual strategies and humor to document and archive queer narratives through personal history and experience. She received her BA from Evergreen College, Olympia, WA, and her MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Her work has been screened and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Istanbul, Berlin, and Sydney. Her photographs have been published in numerous books, including The Passionate Camera: Queer Bodies of Desire and Lesbian Art in America, and she is a featured artist in Sarah Thornton's book, 33 Artists in 3 Acts. Her fanzine writing has been republished in The Riot Grrrl Collection and A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World. In the 1990s, Carland independently produced a series of influential fanzines, including I (heart) Amy Carter. She has collaborated on the record art of some seminal underground music releases for such bands as Bikini Kill, The Fakes, and The Butchies. From 1997 to 2005, she managed in partnership Mr. Lady Records and Videos an independent record label and video art distribution company that was dedicated to the production and distribution of queer and feminist culture.
About David Huffman
David Huffman was born in Berkeley, California and continues to live and work in Oakland. Working in painting and installation, Huffman’s work engages sci-fi aesthetics and objects related to Black culture to explore identity and racial politics. He studied at the New York Studio School and the California College of Arts and Crafts where he received his MFA 1999. Selected solo exhibitions include McEnery Gallery, New York; Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; Paulson Fontaine Press, Berkeley; Roberts & Tilton Gallery, Culver City, CA; Patricia Sweetow Gallery, San Francisco; San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries, San Francisco; and Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, Los Angeles. His work is included in the permanent collections of Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe Campus; Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley, CA; Birmingham (AL) Museum of Art; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University; Embassy of the United States of America, Dakar, Senegal; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Oakland Museum of California; Palo Alto Arts Center; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.
Lava Thomas was born in Los Angeles and is currently based in Berkeley. She studied at UCLA's School of Arts and Architecture and received a BFA from California College of the Arts. Thomas's multimedia practice interrogates issues around race, gender, representation, and memorialization with an emphasis on portraiture that visualizes Black women's empowerment and activism. Her work has been exhibited at various galleries and museums including the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; the International Print Center, New York, NY; the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA; and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA. Thomas is a recipient of a 2021 Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize, the 2020 San Francisco Artadia Award, and a Joan Mitchell Grant for Painters and Sculptors. She has participated in artist residencies at Facebook Los Angeles, Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She is a 2019-2021 recipient of the Lucas Artists Fellowship Award at the Montalvo Arts Center and was awarded an artist residency at the Joan Mitchell Center for summer 2022. Thomas's work is held in the permanent collections of the United States Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; the M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA.
John Zurier was born in Santa Monica, CA in 1956. He lives and works in Berkeley, CA and Reykjavík, Iceland. Zurier’s abstract nearly monochrome paintings use color, surface modulation and brushwork to evoke distillations of air and weather. Zurier received his MFA in painting from the University of California, Berkeley, CA (1984). Selected museum exhibitions include: Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden (2021); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA (2018); New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM (2016); Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, ME (2015); and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA (2014). He has exhibited at the 30th São Paulo Biennial, Brazil (2012); California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana, CA (2010); 7th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2008); Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, England (2003); and the Whitney Biennial, New York, NY (2002). He has been awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2010).
The artists featured in this exhibition include Zarouhie Abdalian, Diane Arbus, Francis Bacon, Yamamoto Baitsu, John Baldessari, Sadie Barnette, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, McArthur Binion, Yosa Busan, John Cage, Tammy Rae Carland, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Constance Chang, Sarah Charlesworth, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Robert Colescott, Willem de Kooning, Erica Deeman, Jay DeFeo, James Ensor, Paul Gauguin, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Kenyatta Hinkle, Mildred Howard, David Huffman, David Ireland, Gao Jian, Yuan Jiang, Dai Jin, Sun Junze, Arnold J. Kemp, Caroline Kent, Jacob Lawrence, Zoe Leonard, Mary Anne Levine, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Adrian Piper, Fan Qi, Betye Saar, Pascal Sébah, Hu Shicha, Lorna Simpson, Lava Thomas, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Sojourner Truth, Unidentified Artist (China), Unidentified Artist (China), Unidentified Artist (Democratic Republic of Congo), Unidentified Artist (location unknown), Unidentified Artist (United States), Carrie Mae Weems, Franklin Williams, Charley Wilson, Fred Wilson, Lena Wolff, George Wright, Ren Yi, Georgios Zangaki, Constantinos Zangaki, and John Zurier.
Conceived of by Apsara DiQuinzio, former senior curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator, The Artist’s Eye is organized with the artists and by Claire Frost, curatorial assistant, and Stephanie Cannizzo, associate curator, with Lynne Kimura, Carmel and Howard Friessen Collections Engagement Associate and academic liaison.
The exhibition is made possible with lead support from Dr. Rosalyn M. Laudati and Dr. James Pick and with additional support from Pamela and David Hornik.