In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
Following Rosie Lee Tompkins: Reflections on the Exhibition
Elaine Y. Yau, PhD
Associate Curator, the Eli Leon Living Trust Collection of African American Quilts
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Attention all lovers of textile arts, modern art, women-artists, and those who just love a good story! Our December 2020 meeting will feature Dr. Elaine Y. Yau, the Co-Curator of the Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) at the University of California, Berkeley.
Rosie Lee Tompkins was a Bay Area artist working in Richmond. Quoting from the exhibition notes, “Rosie Lee Tompkins (1936–2006) is widely considered one of the most brilliant and inventive quiltmakers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Her reputation has grown to the point where her work is no longer considered solely within the context of quilting, but celebrated among the great American artistic achievements of our time. Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work to date, featuring approximately seventy quilts, pieced tops, embroideries, assemblages, and decorated objects. It reveals Tompkins to be an artist of extraordinary variety, depth, and impact.”
We are honored to present Dr. Elaine Yau, Co-Curator of the current exhibition. She will give us an overview of the galleries before turning to reflections on the exhibition itself (approaches, surprises, and the curatorial process) and her current thinking about an upcoming quilt exhibition she is organizing for BAMPFA that is scheduled to open in Fall 2023.
Dr. Yau is associate curator of the Eli Leon Living Trust Collection of African American Quilts at the University of California, BAMPFA. Prior to this appointment, she was the museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow and co-curated Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective with Lawrence Rinder. Dr. Yau’s research interests include histories of modern art’s engagement with folkways and vernacular culture, as well as American material and visual culture more broadly – topics addressed in her recent essays published in Panorama: The Journal of the Associations of Historians of American Art and the Routledge Companion to African American Art History. She received her doctorate in History of Art from UC Berkeley.
The New York Times judged this exhibition important enough to give it the cover plus three full pages in its Arts & Leisure section last summer in an article entitled “Radical Quilting.” Here is a link to the virtual exhibition&l
Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education, to prepare each citizen to choose wisely and to enable him to choose freely are paramount functions of the school of democracy - Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Taking Photos of Nature for Science, Management
and Conservation: The Power of Technology
and Community-Collected Data
Rebecca Johnson, PhD
Co-Director, Center for Biodiversity and Community
California Academy of Sciences
Many of us Marinites are finding that a retreat to nature during these pandemic months can be a tonic for, well, everything. The renowned entomologist E. O. Wilson has popularized a hypothesis called “biophilia,” which argues that our natural affinity for life is the very essence of our humanity and binds us to all other living species. And that the love of nature is restorative.
Our speaker today, Dr. Rebecca Johnson, co-directs the Center for Biodiversity and Community at the California Academy of Sciences, where she is also a Research Associate in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology. She is a passionate advocate of citizen science and community engagement to discover and understand our natural world. In her talk, she will describe the importance of engaging the public in environmental science right in our own backyard.
Through her work, Dr. Johnson supports and grows a community of naturalists working together to discover nature. She is passionate about building coalitions around place-based nature connection, biodiversity documentation, and using species observations to understand climate change and stem biodiversity loss. She and her co-director, Alison Young, were honored with the Bay Nature 2017 ‘Local Heroes for Environmental Education Award.’ She spearheads the Academy’s biodiversity work with the City of San Francisco and along the California Coast and is a founding member of the San Francisco Children & Nature Team. Dr. Johnson earned her B.A. in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley; her M.A. in Systematics and Ecology from San Francisco State University; and her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She lives in San Francisco with her family. The slides from her presentation can be viewed here.
On staying positive:
"Don't ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn't. - Michelle Obama
On enacting change:
"We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. [...] Ans if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself." - Greta Thunberg, Climate Change Activist.