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Since its inception in 1974, the Exploratorium’s Artist-in-Residence Program (AIR) has grown to include hundreds of artists and performers. The museum works with individuals and artist groups who are drawn to collaboration, interested in interdisciplinary dialogue, and open to developing new working methods. Projects have taken countless forms, such as multimedia performances, theatrical productions, animated filmmaking, immersive installations, walking tours, and online projects. The program allows for artists to embed within the unique culture of the institution, affords access to a dynamic and diverse staff, and provides opportunities for cross-pollination with a broad public. While the museum allows room for variance, residencies typically unfold over two years and include both an exploratory and project-development phase.
Please note: The Exploratorium AIR program does not accept unsolicited artist materials.
Brett Cook is an interdisciplinary artist and educator who uses storytelling to distill complex ideas and creative practices to transform outer and inner worlds of being. In his work with the Exploratorium's Arts and Public Programming teams, Cook will look at the ways an artist can interpret, remix, amplify, or challenge Exploratorium pedagogy.
Cook's installations feature painting, drawing, and photography to tell pluralistic stories with broad representation. His public projects typically involve community workshops that apply arts-integrated pedagogy and contemplative strategies—along with music, performance, and food—to create a fluid boundary between art making, daily life, and healing.
Teaching and public speaking are extensions of Cook’s social practice that involve communities in dialogue to generate experiences of reflection and insight. He was formerly a Visiting Professor in Community Arts/Social Practice and Diversity Studies at California College of the Arts and Director of Social Practice and Pedagogy at San Francisco State University Healthy Equity Institute. In 2009, he published Who Am I in This Picture: Amherst College Portraits with Wendy Ewald and Amherst College Press; and in 2015, Clouds in a Teacup with Thich Nhat Hanh and Parallax Press.
Cook has received numerous awards, including the Lehman Brady Visiting Professorship at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Richard Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship at the San Francisco Art Institute. In recognition of his history of socially relevant, community-engaged projects, he was selected as cultural ambassador to Nigeria as part of the U.S. Department of State’s 2012 smARTpower initiative. His work is in private and public collections, including the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the Walker Art Center, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Harvard University. He is a senior fellow at YBCA and a trustee of A Blade of Grass, an arts nonprofit dedicated to social engagement.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a transdisciplinary artist and educator interested in art as research and critical practice. Her controversial bio-political art practice includes the project Stranger Visions in which she created portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material—hair, cigarette butts, chewed up gum—collected in public places.
Dewey-Hagborg has shown work internationally at events and venues including the World Economic Forum, the Shenzhen Urbanism and Architecture Biennale, the Van Abbemuseum, Transmediale, and PS1 MOMA. Her work is held in public collections of the Centre Pompidou, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the New York Historical Society and has been widely discussed in the media, from the New York Times and the BBC to Art Forum and Wired.
She is an artist fellow at AI Now, and an affiliate of Data Society and is the co-founder and co-curator of REFRESH, an inclusive and politically engaged collaborative platform at the intersection of art, science, and technology.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Dexter.
The artwork Probably Chelsea by Heather Dewey-Hagbog and Chelsea Manning is featured in the exhibit collection Cells to Self. In this video Heather Dewey-Hagborg explains the artwork and describes how the same DNA data can be interpreted in many different ways.
Based in Los Angeles, Tristan Duke has a background in photography and holography, and a deep interest in the science of optics and visual perception. Since 2008 he has been pioneering the development of hand-drawn holography as a creative medium.
A true artist-inquirer, Duke’s work makes interesting connections to numerous research threads throughout the Exploratorium. We are currently exploring potential areas of overlapping interest with the hope of supporting him in new areas of investigation.
Duke's individual work has been exhibited internationally at venues including Art Villa Garikula, Georgia; The Velaslavasay Panorama, Los Angeles; MASS MoCA, North Adams; and Holocenter, Long Island City, NY.
Duke is a founding member of the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio, along with Lauren Bon and Richard Nielsen. With the Optics Division, Duke's collaborative work has been presented in exhibitions at DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Les Rencontres d'Arles, France; The George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; and the Smithsonian Hirshhorn, Washington DC.
Duke moved his studio, Infinity Light Science, to Los Angeles in 2010. He is a fellow at the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
While in residence at the Exploratorium, Rosten Woo has developed Mutual Air, a public art project in downtown and West Oakland that will be on view from fall 2018 through spring 2019. This work aims to connect Oakland residents to our most ubiquitous yet invisible public commons: the air.
Mutual Air is a network of roughly thirty specially designed bells that generate a soundscape reflecting and responding to the changing composition of our local and global atmosphere. By sonifying air-quality fluctuations, Woo hopes to engage the public in an experiential understanding of climate science and how aspects of our atmosphere, while a shared resource, reflect socioeconomic disparities.
Mutual Air chimes will be on view at the Oakland Museum of California, Chabot Space and Science Center, and the Exploratorium starting September 30, 2018. The network will grow throughout October and November, with more chime sensors being installed in public, private, and community locations. Organizations or individuals interested in hosting a sensor should visit MutualAir.org for more information.
Woo also produced a series of short films exploring the social and political dimensions of air-quality data gathering. The series Common Sensing: Who Measures and Why? will screen in our Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6, where we host a gamut of environmental sensors that measure such things as tide, current, CO2, ocean salinity, etc. This film series illuminates the need to answer some big questions: Why do we build sensors? Where do we put them? What’s involved in creating, maintaining, and getting people to pay attention to them? What effects can sensors have in the world?
Rosten Woo is an artist, designer, and writer living in Los Angeles. His projects aim to help people understand complex systems, reorient themselves to places, and participate in group decision-making. He acts as a collaborator with and consultant to grassroots organizations and produces public artworks about the politics of place for cultural institutions and local and regional governments. His work has been exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial, the Venice Architecture Biennale, and various parks, piers, public housing developments, and shopping malls. He is co-founder and former executive director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), winner of the 2016 National Design Award for institutional achievement. Street Value, his book about race and retail urban development, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2009.
Mutual Air is a project by Rosten Woo and the Exploratorium with key partnerships and cooperation from the Oakland Museum of California, Chabot Space and Science Center, City of Oakland Public Art Program and Cultural Affairs Division, and the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. Mutual Air is generously supported by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s Open Spaces Program. IoT platform in-kind support provided by Particle.
Ilana Halperin's Exploratorium residency culminated in the launch of Library of Earth Anatomy, a collection of remarkable geological artifacts that invite and inspire us to see rocks in new ways. Created for the Exploratorium's Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery, the Library employs unconventional classification methods to dissolve the usual boundaries between nature and culture, as well as between animal, vegetable, and mineral.
Premised on the notion that “Earth’s geological record is like a book whose pages have been ripped apart and scattered about,” the Library reveals the unusual richness of Bay Area “geologic literature.” Its rock fragments tell many stories. A series of cards correlated to the rocks guides us in the apprehension that the solidity of rock is an illusion, and that the scale of geologic time is immense.
Ilana Halperin’s work explores the relationship between geology and everyday life. Her work draws parallels between very personal events and objective, natural forces, such as the birth of a volcano. In this way, her work creates a way for us to consider our place within the deep-time continuum using the more intimate perspective of human time scales. Halperin’s approach combines fieldwork in diverse locations and research in museums, archives, and laboratories with an active studio-based practice. Her work manifests in different media taking the form that the project requires. Collaborative approaches grow organically from the work itself and have led to unexpected fieldwork alongside volcanologists and wild caving with neuroscientists.
Halperin’s solo exhibitions include The Library at National Museum of Scotland; Steine at the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité; Hand Held Lava at Schering Stiftung, Berlin; Physical Geology (slow time) at Artists Space, New York; and The Difficulty of Falling in Love During an Earthquake at Tramway, Glasgow. Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions including Volcano, Compton Verney; Estratos curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, PAC Murcia; Polar Dispatches at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine; Sharjah Biennial 8 and Experimental Geography curated by Nato Thompson. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Inaugural Artist Fellowship at National Museums Scotland, a British Council Darwin Now Award, and an Alchemy Fellowship at Manchester Museum. She has undertaken artist residencies at the Camden Arts Centre; Cove Park; and aboard the Professor Molchanov, an ecotourism vessel that travels into the Arctic.
Exploratorium Artist-in-Residence Nina Katchadourian works across various media—including photography, sculpture, video, and sound—incorporating playful juxtapositions and conceptual twists to provoke us to re-see everyday natural and cultural phenomena.
Her new work for the Exploratorium is Floater Theater, an intimate theatrical environment that whimsically prompts participants to explore the fascinating, commonly experienced phenomenon of eye floaters.
Katchadourian’s two-year engagement in the Exploratorium’s laboratory-like environment, took as its point of departure her experience as a test subject in the so-called Marshmallow Test. Conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School in the early 1970s, this infamous study investigated the capacity for delayed gratification in children. Katchadourian’s experience as a test subject, and her memories about whether she resisted or gave into temptation as a four-year old, have been a lifelong preoccupation.
While Katchadourian began investigating the social behavior surrounding delayed gratification during her residency, she became curious about boredom. Are the wanderings of the mind important to creativity? What do we do when we’re bored? She pondered how the phenomena that we associate with boredom, as well as the minutiae that we find ourselves contemplating when we lack stimulation—dust, empty rooms, white noise— can actually be quite fascinating. This led to an exploration of eye floaters, and the language used to describe this observable phenomenon in our visual field that others cannot directly experience.
Katchadourian's work has been exhibited domestically and internationally at PS1/MoMA, the Serpentine Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, Turner Contemporary, Artists Space, SculptureCenter, the Palais de Tokyo, and De Appel. In June 2006, the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs exhibited a ten-year survey of her work and published an accompanying monograph entitled All Forms of Attraction. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego presented a solo show of recent video installation works in July 2008. In February 2010, she was the Artist-in-Residence at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in Dunedin, New Zealand, which culminated in a solo show entitled Seat Assignment. She recently completed work on a prize-winning permanent public piece, Grand State of Maine, commissioned by the GSA for a border-crossing station between the United States and Canada. In April 2013, the monograph Sorted Books was published by Chronicle Books on the 20-year anniversary of Katchadourian's Sorted Books project. A new video work by Katchadourian is currently on view as part of the exhibition Explode Every Day at MASSMoCA. In spring 2016 the Museum of Modern Art in New York will present Katchadourian's sound-based project on the subject of dust as part of their program "Artists Experiment." In Spring 2017, a touring solo museum show of Katchadourian’s work will open at the Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas. Katchadourian is on the faculty at New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.
During her residency, Abdalian developed a suite of prose scores entitled Functions that explore the social dimensions of the Exploratorium as a public environment.
We tend to associate scores with musical notes and the performance of music. Yet, for decades, a wide range of artists—including Yoko Ono, Sol LeWitt, Trisha Brown, and John Cage—have created text-based scores for performances of all kinds. Depending on the score and its intentions, these instructions may be communicated in written, spoken, or pictographic language.
Abdalian’s scores, take the form of a set of cards with instructions that invite playful interaction among three or more participants. The scores were performed by Exploratorium visitors over the course of several months, and are expressly designed for anyone to try—no special knowledge or abilities are needed to join in the performance. Abdalian’s Functions encourages us to probe what happens when an individual joins with others to become part of a public. How do individuals negotiate group power dynamics?
In addition, Abdalian, in collaboration with Joseph Rosenzweig, worked with Exploratorium staff to organize a concert, Situational Music, exploring sound works that informed the development of Functions. A group of performers presented a selection of seven historical prose scores—including works by Pauline Oliveros and Christian Wolff.
Born in New Orleans in 1982, Zarouhie Abdalian received a BA from Tulane University in 2003 and an MFA from California College of the Arts in 2010. Abdalian often makes site-specific installations and sculptures that address the material and social conditions under which they become art.
She has had solo exhibitions at Dillard University Art Gallery in New Orleans, in 2007, UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2013 and at Altman Siegel, San Francisco. in 2014. In 2008 she created a permanent light installation for the Philadelphia Cathedral.
Her work has been included in international and national exhibitions, including Prospect.3, New Orleans, LA, 2014; Nothing Beside Remains, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, Australia, 2014; Rendez-vous 12, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 2014; Material Information, Kunstindustrie Museum, Bergen, Norway, 2012; Moscow International Biennial for Young Art, 2012; and Shanghai Biennale: Reactivation, 2012; and the 8th Berlin Biennale, Berlin, 2011. Other venues in which her work has appeared include Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; ProArts Gallery, Oakland; Institut d’art contemporain, Villeurbanne, France; The Lab, San Francisco; MacArthur B Arthur, Oakland; New Orleans Center for Creative Arts; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; and Krowswork, Oakland.
Abdalian is a recipient of the inaugural 2015 A+P+I Artist Residency at Mills College as well as the SFMOMA SECA Art Award in 2013. She has also participated in the independent curatorial projects SC13, San Francisco, 2010, and Mission Afterviews, San Francisco, 2012.
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.
Meara O'Reilly is a sound and visual artist living in Northern California, making instruments, songs, and performance installations based on the resonant frequencies of spaces, materials, and the human vocal tract. In partnership with the Exploratorium's Center for Art and Inquiry, O'Reilly has developed a blog called Illusion Songs, exploring auditory illusions.
Harrell Fletcher received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from California College of the Arts. He studied organic farming at UCSC and went on to work on a variety of small Community Supported Agriculture farms, which impacted his work as an artist. Fletcher has produced a variety of socially engaged collaborative and interdisciplinary projects since the early 1990s.
His work has been shown at SFMOMA, the de Young Museum, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Wattis Institute, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as a multitude of other national and international institutions. He was a participant in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Fletcher has work in the collections of MoMA, the Whitney Museum, The New Museum, SFMOMA, The Berkeley Art Museum, the de Young Museum, and the FRAC in Brittany, France. In 2002, Fletcher started Learning To Love You More (LTLYM), a participatory website with Miranda July. A book version of LTLYM was published in 2007 by Prestel. Fletcher is the 2005 recipient of the Alpert Award in Visual Arts and is an Associate Professor of Art and Social Practice at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.
For more than 15 years, Fletcher has been at the forefront of an art field called "social practice," a medium that tends to engage audiences directly through the creation of intangible, collaborative experiences. Talented social practice artists are skillful at designing the conditions for elegant situations to unfold amongst groups of people.
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.
John Roloff is a visual artist who works conceptually with site, process, and natural systems. He is known primarily for his outdoor kiln and furnace projects done from the late 1970s to the early 1990s as well as other large-scale environmental and gallery installations investigating geologic and natural phenomena. He studied geology at UC Davis with Professor Eldridge Moores and others during the formative days of plate tectonics in the mid-1960s. Subsequently, he studied art with Bob Arneson and William T. Wiley also at UC Davis in the late 1960s.
In addition to numerous environmental, site-specific installations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, his work has been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, UC Berkeley Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, Photoscene Cologne and the Venice Architectural and Art Biennales. He has received three visual arts fellowships from the NEA, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship and a California Arts Council grant for visual artists. He is represented by the Lance Fung Gallery in NY and Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco. He is currently a Professor of Sculpture at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Nate Boyce is a San Francisco-based moving image maker and sculptor whose work explores tensions between two and three dimensions. Weaving together rhythmic permutations of analog video synthesis, 3-D animation, and formal object-hood, his works engage cognitive, perceptual and representational thresholds. Boyce amplifies tensions between motion and stasis, depth and flatness, pictorial illusion and material reflexivity, as well as compositional tensions within the frame. Boyce is represented by Altman Siegel Gallery in San Francisco and has been a resident at the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and was an SFMOMA SECA award finalist.
In 2010, Boyce took up residence in the Palace of Fine Arts optics studio, a small workshop space once-devoted to analogue optical experiments, now largely a storage space for antiquated equipment. Using a surveillance camera, video monitor, prisms, mirrors, filters, and green screen, Boyce created visual feedback loops he then inserted into his computer-rendered 3-D environments. We exhibited his fascinating experiments at our After Dark: Extended Cinemas program in May, 2011.
Tauba Auerbach (b. 1981) lives and works in New York. Her solo exhibitions include Tetrachromat, at Bergen Kunsthall, Malmo Kunsthall, and WIELS Contemporary Art Centre; The W Axis at Standard (Oslo); Here and Now/And Nowhere at Deitch Projects, New York; Passengers at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; and The Answer/Wasn't Here at the Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco. Her work has been included in Greater New York, PS1 MoMA; the 2010 Whitney Biennial; Exhibition Exhibition, Castello De Rivoli; and Younger Than Jesus, New Museum, New York.