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Laughter + Tears


02.09.19 - 03.30.19


Laughter + Tears BRIAN BARTZ | UC BERKELEY CALUM CRAIK | SFSU RICKI DWYER | UC BERKELEY ZOE EAGAN-GARDNER | CCA NEIL GREISS | STANFORD BECCA IMRICH | CCA NATHAN KOSTA | SFSU HEESOO KWON | UC BERKELEY LESLIE SAMSON-TABAKIN | SFSU HANNAH TUCK | SFSU YILING ZENG | SFAI

curated by Natasha Loewy | SFSU + Kristen Wong | SFSU


Laughter and Tears showcases a group of eleven artists who use humor and play to engage in a dialogue with and subvert the world around them. Across various disciplines and mediums, they use humor as a tool to think critically about social and political events. Brian Bartz (UC Berkeley) uses technological systems such as Google Maps to explore and articulate a perception of the world at large. Bartz creates interactive video installations to deconstruct how the internet network systems and the cloud alter our perception of supply chains and geological depletion. Calum Craik (SFSU) is an artist who works in video, sculpture, and installation. His sculptures, assembled using found materials with personal and sociopolitical significance, often take on a poetic and absurd sensibility. The work entices viewers to make connections between the materials and their emotional weight for both the viewer and the artist. Ricki Dwyer (UC Berkeley) is an interdisciplinary artist who currently works primarily in textile and installation. Through weaving, a medium deeply connected to culture and tradition, Dwyer communicates ideas of temporality and transformation. Zoe Eagan-Gardner (CCA) is a sculptor and installation artist whose work brings to mind both Dada and Funk Art. Childlike and somewhat austere, the work inspires stream of conscious thought and imagination. Eagan-Gardner uses sculpture to recount stories of her childhood and coming of age experiences. Her sculptures exist somewhere between being seductive and hilarious. Neil Griess (Stanford) is an artist who primarily works in painting and sculpture. Through the recontextualization of objects taken from day-to-day life, his sculptures are an absurd and subversive way of seeing the social structures of the world at large.


Becca Imrich (CCA) is an artist whose work is based in sculpture and installation. Through text, punctuation, and other visual markers, Imrich questions codified structures and systems. Imrich uses her background in sociology to supplement and enhance the conceptual rigor of her work. Nathan Kosta (SFSU) is an artist who works within the disciplines of photography, video, and sound. Kosta seeks out absurdity in mundane day-to-day moments and creates humor through the lenses of portraiture and found landscapes. Heesoo Kwon (UC Berkeley) created “Leymusoom,” a continuously evolving religion that supports a feminist utopian worldview. Through performance, sculpture, and social practice, Kwon invites everyone to imagine a world that provides love and support to all of Earth’s creatures. Leslie Samson-Tabakin (SFSU) is an installation artist who uses whimsy, absurdity, and material seduction to draw viewers in and provoke questions. Her installations feel both familiar and otherworldly and tap into the multilayered experiences and emotions of the human psyche. Hannah Tuck (SFSU) is an interdisciplinary artist who currently makes video and text based works. In her text pieces, she uses unedited and poignant excerpts from her diary to communicate feelings of fear and anxiety. Her raw installations evoke resonant feelings of familiarity and shared intimacy. Yiling Zeng (SFAI) is a filmmaker whose work examines ideas of a multivalent identity. In her surreal short film “Carol and Jill,” Zeng explores an immigrant narrative through the relationships between cartoon sea creatures who try to make sense of life on land. - Natasha Loewy + Kristen Wong | Guest Curators


Brian Bartz (UC Berkeley)

“We live in a world defined by technological abstraction; our daily interactions with digital networks are constantly being dematerialized into gaseous clouds. The immensely complex global supply-chains, labor markets, and geological depletion intrinsic to our networked environment are continually erased before our eyes. What do we lose when our interactions with technology are no longer an index of the physical world? How did we come to live inside of a cloud? This tour of Google Maps takes viewers to some of the physical locations that constitute the Internet. Cheerful robotic voices guide the tour, playfully and sarcastically deconstructing our perception of The Cloud as a purely abstract and immaterial entity.�


not_a_cloud, 2018. Video/interactive website.


Calum Craik (SFSU) “My work is concerned with the history of labor and the commons. I look to defamiliarize and prise open moments within the everyday that question our relationship with the market and the land.�

Vessels, Barriers and Containers (i), 2017. Marble from SF condo development site, elastic hairband, bronze lemon.


Monument ($7.50 = 30 mins), 2018. Steel, chewing gum.


Ricki Dwyer (UC Berkeley)

“Ricki Dwyer is an artist from the Bay Area whose work investigates the material of cloth as an embodied form. Stimulated by notions of temporality as reference to bodily growth, decay, and transformation, Ricki’s work often changes throughout an exhibition or evening. As a weaver their sculptures are in part produced on the loom and in part developed as assemblage works, highlighting cloth as a contextually defined material. Acknowledging the mutability of woven objects by allowing forms to re-present and perform different roles. Currently Ricki’s studio has employed mono printing, ceramic casting, and photography to work through and around the structure of weaving. Reliant on the material specific qualities of cloth which relate back to a fluid and often un-replicable form, the work returns to drapery as posture. Ricki's apprenticeship to the loom is a constraint mimicked in the dedication to the grid.”


Unsettled (smile), 2017. Mood ring, hematite, chain, cotton, porcelain, plastic.


Zoe Eagan-Gardner (CCA)

“Portraiture is one of the longest standing artistic traditions. The artist strives to render the essence of her subject. This, however, begs the question, “where does that essence reside?” Through an absurdist lens of abstraction, the forms I create tell the parables of my childhood and coming of age. I imbue each figure with personality and purpose as I create a world of my own. Here I can examine, from the outside looking in, the events that shaped me. I use an implied narrative, lush surfaces, and sewn details to seduce the viewer. The sumptuous array of textures that envelop the forms begs to be fondled and caressed. The liminal space between unease and humor, seduction and denial, is where this work resides.”


Cowboy, 2018. Ceramic, stain, spraypaint and sand.


Neil Griess (Stanford) “My work is informed by my sense of place. I am interested in how, in my passage through the built environment, my course is steered by forces inscribed in the landscape. I consider the mutability of my personal agency as I participate in the flow of ideas, agendas, and subjectivities. Certain dynamics are plain and apparent, while others are fortified, subterranean, or are otherwise closed off from view.�

Sidewalk Net, 2017. Acid-free foam core, scale model grass, graphite, acrylic paint, light box.


On Its Face, 2018. Acid-free foam core, paper, acrylic mediums, acrylic paint.


Becca Imrich (CCA)

gd america (bad news in 1296pt), 2018. Ceramic, underglaze, aerosol. bad news, 2018. Ink, 17 pieces of paper, poplar, brads.


“My practice hinges on creating intuitive classification systems to analyze the world around me, through gathering overlooked kernels of data, and searching for meaning through repetition, prototyping, and the proliferation of coded sets. I attempt to cope with our contemporary climate through nervous production. The work contains markers of how we receive information but brings in dark humor and tenderness through traces of my own hand. I question hierarchies of information and knowledge codified by methods of visual presentation through performing plucky actions that follow their own logic.�

os xx burnt toast sierra, 2018. Screen print on paper, paint, pencil, foam insulation panels, aluminum tape, wood, flag pole mounts.


Nathan Kosta (SFSU)

Outhouse, 2016. Archival pigment print.

Sale, 2018. Archival pigment print.


“Through my photographs, I use humor to explore my position as a human living during the anthropocene. Contrasting the absurdity of consumerism and materialism against the reality of environmental degradation, I question my own complicity and apathy, as well as that of my peers, while turning to humor to simultaneously assist in coping with catastrophic destruction and encourage the collective imagination of a hopeful future.�

Conduit, 2018. Archival pigment print.

Fence, 2015. Archival pigment print.


Heesoo Kwon (UC Berkeley)


This performance is about the genesis of the feminist religion, Leymusoom. Originally written by Heesoo Kwon, the piece was performed by Kwon and six of the believers.

Genesis of Leymoosun, 2019. Performance documentation.


Leslie Samson-Tabakin (SFSU) “I’m interested in making art that seeks to unfold the layered experiences of the human condition, through ephemeral objects and the language of truisms. My goal is to connect with others by inviting curiosity and empathy within a strangeness of recognition. My work speaks to a troubled and sarcastic playground of a mind. A joyful, mischievous mind, a mind that holds tenderness and pain and nonsense. A mind seeking answers both hard and soft. A mind that can’t make up its mind. “A mind like a banana trap.””


Cloud Pleaser, 2018. Bananas, glue, glitter, string, found wood, spray paint, tape, candy cake, rug.


Hannah Tuck (SFSU)

“The work is an exploration of communication and empathy. The text, which is mined directly from my diaries, represents how the regular actions of living can feel like and function as pronouncements of failure. The inherent humor in these moments acts as a relief valve and an access point for what can be a more difficult subject matter. These are my words and my experiences, but through sharing them I find that I do not feel alone in them.�


As A Kid, 2018. Ink on wall.


Yiling Zeng (SFAI)

“Carol and Jill is a 3-minute stop-motion animation. It tells a surreal story about two sisters who were marine animals struggling with their new life on land. With strange characters and ridiculous dialogues, Carol and Jill is intended to examine the anxiousness and frustration when trying to fit into an unfamiliar society in a humorous way.�


Carol and Jill, 2018. Video animation.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Lauren Dare Marcel Houtzager Matt Lopez Brooke Valentine Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture Sartle.com Thor, Zeus & Jasper


Embark Arts offers exhibition opportunities to graduate students of the Fine Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. We provide a space for an engaged community of artists, curators and scholars, and we aim to expand the audience for up and coming contemporary art. A non-profit gallery, Embark’s programming represents the diversity of the talented artists studying at eight local artinstitutions: San Francisco Art Institute, UC Berkeley, California College of the Arts, Mills College, San Francisco State University, UC Davis, San Jose State University, and Stanford. The juried exhibitions are held at our gallery in San Francisco at the historic Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.

Tania Houtzager || Executive Director Angelica Jardini || Curatorial Director

Profile for Embark Gallery

Laughter and Tears  

Exhibition catalog for Laughter and Tears, an exhibition at Embark Gallery

Laughter and Tears  

Exhibition catalog for Laughter and Tears, an exhibition at Embark Gallery

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