CURATOR > Exhibition: "We’re All Here Because We’re Not All There" Tecoah Bruce Gallery at the Oliver Art Center, CCA, Oakland

Co-curator with David Kasprzak

Artists include Harrell Fletcher, Anthony Discenza, Todd Hido, Hank Willis Thomas, Patricia Esquivias, Travis Meinolf, Dina Danish, Josh Greene, Scott Oliver, Bill Durgin, Mik Gaspay, Katie Lewis, Patricia Olynyk, Conrad Ruiz, Gabrielle Teschner, Imin Yeh, Lawrence LaBianca, David Huffman, Llewellyn Fletcher, Linn Meyers and Double Zero.

September 27-October 27, 2012

Celebrating twenty-five years of honoring and supporting the work of exceptional CCA students in the Graduate Program in Fine Arts, We’re All Here Because We’re Not All There is a retrospective exhibition featuring work from a selection of artists who have received the prestigious Barclay Simpson Award since 1987. The Simpsons have continuously provided financial support to emerging artists in the Bay Area for the last twenty-five years, but the award has perhaps served an even more important function. By selecting up to four artists a year, the committee or jurors and the Simpsons have complied an archive of over seventy-five individual histories. Contained within each artist’s work is record of human history that spans a quarter of a decade. Their work has documented political and economic climates, the progression of technology, the struggle for racial and gender equality, the rise of globalism, and the evolution of art and culture. While each artist presents their own individual experiences and ideologies, they all share one commonality—CCA being the origin of their practice.

The tongue-and-cheek title of the exhibition may at first appear to originate from bumper sticker kitsch, but it is actually a carefully balanced phrase of levity and gravity. We’re all Here Because We’re Not All There is a phrase often associated with the Beat and Hippie generations—symbolizing a unity or comradery based on a mutual ideology that contended with conventional thought or action. This statement is not only true of this grouping of artists whose practices and concepts have continued to push the boundaries of contemporary art and society but also of the Simpsons themselves and the innovative ways in which they have conducted their business and supported and enhanced the community around them. The artists represented in We’re All Here Because We’re Not All There are comprised from various cultural and sociopolitical backgrounds but all chose to work and educate themselves in a community that welcomed and fostered progressive ideas. They employ practices that have been instrumental in pioneering new movements like Social Practice—they have made bold statements on issues of race and gender, and they have challenged the boundaries of medium and the role of the artist. The title We’re All Here Because We’re Not All There can also be viewed literally for its reference to place and one’s presence and absence. After leaving CCA many of the artists in the exhibition left the Bay Area for various locations around the world. Continuing their careers in both national and international venues, they have truly become participants in an ever-growing global dialogue.

As implied in the beginning of the exhibitions title, “we’re all here,” these artists have reconvened, even if only present in the form of their work, to the point of their origin—in the Bay Area at CCA to celebrate their supporters and their contributions to the last twenty-five years of history, a history shaped by unconventional minds. As cultural producers for the next quarter century, this group of artists seems to offer a prognosis for the future. It’s not one of naivety they says, “happily ever after,” or one of fatalism that warns, “we might not live to see tomorrow,” but one of cautious and considered optimism that offers, “this just might work.”

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