Director of Cinema Arts and Senior Curator
Liz Keim, Director of Cinema Arts and Senior Curator, initiated the Exploratorium’s Cinema Arts Program and film collection in 1982 and has since worked to integrate the visions of independent media artists into museum programming, public exhibition, and education. Under her direction, the Cinema Arts Program has expanded to include outdoor screenings, filmmaker residencies, installations, and workshops. She guest lectures, has served on many local film juries, participates in symposiums nationwide, and has curated cinema programs internationally. Liz studied with Edith Kramer, former director of the Pacific Film Archive, and Robert Frank, the noted photographer and cinematographer. She is published in Left in the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theaters, a collection of literary essays on the city’s thriving cinema culture. On occasion Liz co-teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute and the University of San Francisco and lectures at various campuses around the San Francisco Bay Area. Her film In the Red (co-directed by Karen Merchant) has screened internationally.
Senior Artist and Curator
Shawn Lani is a senior artist and curator of the Exploratorium’s Outdoor Gallery and other outdoor works. His Outdoor team is creating more than twenty-five site-specific installations and commissioning a wide range of artists to help enrich and enliven the museum’s new home at Pier 15. In addition to their work at the piers, the Outdoor team is actively developing and installing public works throughout the Bay Area. As principal investigator for the NSF-funded project Ciencia Publica, Shawn is leading the development of portable and public interactions in predominantly Latino neighborhoods, working in partnership with San Francisco city planners and advocates for urban improvements. Shawn has also created pieces for the NSF-funded Outdoor Exploratorium: Experiments in Noticing. The project team installed twenty outdoor pieces at Fort Mason, a unique urban national park in San Francisco. In addition, as a member of the NOAA/Exploratorium Vision Council, Shawn advocates for artworks that create intimate experiences with broad implications.
An active public artist, Shawn has participated in a number of national and international artist-in-residencies. His creations are installed in more than fifty museums worldwide, and he is the recipient of a National American Institute of Architects award for the monumental LIGO Wind Wall installation in Livingston, Louisiana.
Shawn has a BA in English/Creative Writing & Art History from the University of California at Davis, and an MA in Museum Studies (Design and Education) from John F. Kennedy University.
Director, Center for Art & Inquiry
Marina McDougall directs the new Center for Art & Inquiry, an R&D center for the arts within the larger learning laboratory of the Exploratorium. She also oversees our new Over the Water program. Marina was the first curator of art and design at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts and co-founded the Studio for Urban Projects. She has been a visiting curator at the MIT Media Lab, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Oakland Museum of California. As a curator working at the intersection of art and science, nature and culture, Marina has twenty years' experience organizing exhibitions and public programs, and started her career as a curator in the Exploratorium Cinema Arts Program. She teaches as an adjunct professor in the graduate Curatorial Practice Program at California College of the Arts.
Amy Snyder is the senior photographer at the Exploratorium. Last fall she traveled with a media crew to Hawaii for the Never Lost: Polynesnia Navigation website. Her work has been published in numerous places including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Sunset magazine, Science magazine, and The Boston Globe. She has received numerous awards for her photographic work including being a selected artist for Sotheby’s Young International Artist Program. She has exhibited work nationally and internationally. Amy received a BA in German from the University of Michigan and an MFA in photography with highest distinction from the California College of Arts in Oakland, California, in 1995.
Senior Artist and Curator
Susan Schwartzenberg is a senior artist at the Exploratorium, where she leads the development of the Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery. She has been a curator, photographer, designer, and artist, and served as director of media for the museum. She has participated in many exhibit development and Web-based projects. Susan was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and has taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, the California College of Art, and Stanford University. As a photographer and visual artist, she has received numerous awards, and has taken part in residencies and exhibitions worldwide. She is known for her public art, including recent works at Stanford University and San Francisco’s McLaren Park.
Samuel Sharkey works in the Cinema Arts Program with Liz Keim, its founder and director. With her collaboration and guidance, Sam curates a variety of programs for the museum both inside the McBean Theatre as well as outside of traditional cinematic contexts on the museum floor and outdoors. His interest in film extends to its potential to engage audiences in thought, participation, and discussion. The sound and image may act as catalysts to other worlds or deeper investigations of our own. Sam’s passion extends outside of the Exploratorium’s walls to understanding and enacting the power of visual language and storytelling with audiences.
Senior Artist and Curator
Pamela Winfrey is a senior artist and curator for the West Gallery, an innovative space that explores human phenomena such as thinking, feeling, and social interactions. A member of the Exploratorium staff since 1979, Pam has held a variety of positions including Explainer, director of the performing arts program, and acting director for the arts. She also ran the Tactile Dome and started the Volunteer Program. Over the years, she has curated numerous performance series, exhibitions, artist residencies, and gallery installations.
Pam has served on many panels, including the Interactive Arts Panel for Ars Electronica, and, in 2009, she was the lead curatorial consultant for emerging art forms for Creative Capital. She is also a playwright and performer, specializing in writing absurd plays for a thinking audience. She is currently working with the New Musical Theater of San Francisco. Pam has a bachelor’s degree in theater and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary arts.
Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough is an exhibit developer who has created and designed a number of immersive environments and tabletop exhibits for the Listen and Geometry Playground collections. For Geometry Playground, she developed the wood Rotating Through Shapes cubes and tunnels, the Large Anamorphic Mirror Hopscotch, Distorted Drawing in Mirrors, Distorted Chair (with Diane Pfeiffer), and Conical Mirror. For Listen, she developed Outquiet Yourself, Sound Bite, Sonic Storytelling (with Tony Palermo and David Thorgerson), Hearing Health Kiosk (with H.E.A.R. founder Kathy Peck), and Sound Memories (with Sue Allen). Mary Elizabeth received her MFA from CCAC in 2002. She is a practicing visual artist and a musician.
Osher Fellow • June–September 2007
The late Bob Miller was the first artist-in-residence at the Exploratorium and helped Frank Oppenheimer build a vision for integrating art and science in a public space. He was a full-time artist and staff member from 1970 to 1988 and served as Associate Director for 10 years. Bob was the creator of many iconic exhibits at the Exploratorium including Sun Painting, and created Image Walks, an outdoors interactive lecture/demonstration about light and vision. Bob helped us prepare for the pier relocation, worked on our digital archives, and met with exhibit developers, artists, teachers, and program staff to inspire and help identify new projects. He also provided invaluable insight into Frank Oppenheimer’s vision for the continued development of the Exploratorium.
Amy Balkin is a San Francisco-based artist whose work focuses on how humans create, interact with, and impact the social and material landscapes they inhabit. Her projects include This is the Public Domain, an ongoing effort to create a permanent international commons from 2.64 acres of land located near Tehachapi, CA, via legal transfer to the global public. Other projects include Invisible-5 (2006), an environmental justice audio tour along the I-5 freeway corridor between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Publications include LAND, ART: A Cultural Ecology Handbook (2006), Metropolis Magazine (2006), Mute Magazine (2007), and La Ville, Le Jardin, La Memoire (2000). She received an MFA in New Genres from Stanford University in 2003, and is a 2007 recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award. Recent exhibitions include Carbon 13 at the Ballroom Marfa, Required Reading at The Center for Book Arts, and Bay Area Now 6 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Balkin was a featured artist at dOCUMENTA (13), presenting documentation from her ongoing project Public Smog.
Paul Clipson is a San Francisco-based filmmaker and experimental film artist whose work involves projected installation and live collaborative performances with sound artists and musicians. His largely improvised, in-camera-edited films bring to light subconscious preoccupations and unexpected visual forms. His works have been exhibited and performed both nationally and internationally at such festivals as the New York Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
Visit the artist's website
Filmmaker Paul Clipson describes his artistic process and his experience as an Exploratorium Artist in Residence.
Lucky Dragons is an ongoing collaboration between Los Angeles-based artists Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck. Active as a band since 2000, they are known for their participatory approach to making music, their radically inclusive live shows, and their playfully humanistic use of digital tools. The name Lucky Dragons is borrowed from a fishing vessel that was caught in the fallout from H-bomb tests in the mid-1950s, an incident which sparked international outcry and gave birth to the worldwide anti-nuclear movement. Fischbeck and Rara have presented collaborative work in a wide variety of contexts, including the Whitney Museum of American Art (as part of the 2008 Whitney Biennial), the Centre Georges Pompidou, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, London's Institute for Contemporary Art, The Kitchen and PS1 in New York, REDCAT and LACMA in Los Angeles, MOCA Los Angeles, the 54th Venice Biennale, and the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, among others.