Dear OMCA Friends and Supporters:
Over the past year, the Oakland Museum of California has explored and highlighted art created to inspire social change—from Emory Douglas’ bold graphics for the Black Panther Party newspapers to Dorothea Lange’s heartrending photographs of the Japanese-American internment camps. In the coming year, we will have the joy of experiencing art made to transform, uplift, and connect—and to impact social change at the same time.
As Members, you’ll be the first to enjoy the world premiere of Nature’s Gift: Humans, Friends & the Unknown, an enormous, immersive installation created by the artists’ collaborative FriendsWithYou. Artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III describe the installation as a “cathedral of light” and a platform to “dream as big as our heads can go.” Through their work, the artists aspire to connect people and bridge isolation—a need that has never been timelier.
In turn, Favianna Rodriguez—one of the artists highlighted in our Days of the Dead exhibition called Metamorphosis & Migration—believes art is a “powerful way to help people see the world in different ways.” Favianna’s images of the Monarch Butterfly have already become indelible symbols of the beauty and power of migration and immigration, and her work is a cornerstone of this year’s exhibition.
Finally, I am so proud for the Museum to once again present Question Bridge: Black Males, a project we first offered to the public in 2012 and are bringing back to our audiences this fall—this time as a recent acquisition to our permanent collection.
We are only the second museum to acquire the full installation for its collection—the other being the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Artists Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas, in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair, have created an art experience that fosters a dialogue about what it means to be a black man in America today. While a timeless artwork for any era, the installation has particular resonance today as people across the country strive to better understand one another despite—and because of—issues of identity, race, and gender.
As we celebrate the opening of these exhibitions, we are also delighted to introduce two new staff members. Todd Quackenbush, our membership manager, is well-versed in supporting deeper connections between visitors, Members, and cultural institutions, and he will be leading efforts to make your Member experience even more rewarding. We are also fortunate to have Anyka Barber join our leadership team as our new director of engagement. A longtime cultural leader and activist in Oakland, Anyka is now overseeing our education, public programming, and community-engagement initiatives.
Fall is always my favorite season, as we welcome schoolchildren back to our galleries, launch new exhibitions and programs, and relish the most beautiful time of year in the Bay Area. I hope your autumn will be enhanced by experiences of transformation and reflection here at OMCA.
With best wishes,
Photography: Terry Lorant.