SFMOMA presents a series of commissions by local artists that actively engage with pressing issues of our time. Many of 2020’s inaugural projects delved into the consequences of a year of social isolation and unrest, polarizing news, racial injustice, economic crises, all against a backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now ongoing, the program is designed to support local artists who are keenly attuned to our community and current moment.
Leah Rosenberg’s Getting Better Everyday a Color (2021)
In process through November; On view through January 23, 2022
Leah Rosenberg’s ever-evolving mural grows in color, meaning, and texture each week through November. The work responds to a project the interdisciplinary artist completed at Irving Street Projects, in 2015, while grieving the tragic and then-recent passing of Bay Area artist Susan O’Malley. Rosenberg, whose work often focuses on ritual and color, cloaked the gallery interior in 50 layers of paint, applying one at a time and using a color palette inspired by San Francisco’s Sunset District. Now, as relics of that project and O’Malleys works appear in the One Day at a Time exhibition, Rosenberg applies the colors in reverse order in Schwab Hall, renaming each hue after O’Malley’s treasured phrases and calls-to-action. The result is an uplifting and poignant reminder of the everyday ways art can help us heal and honor those who change our lives and communities for the better.
Coming Soon: Emory Douglas’s REPARATIONS (2021)
September 25, 2021–September 1, 2022
Emory Douglas is a pioneering force in the visual language of American protest. As Minister of Culture and Revolutionary Artist of the Black Panther Party from 1967 to the early 1980s, he designed the BPP’s newspaper and deployed a unique combination of graphic design, illustration, photo collage, cartoon, and text to inspire political consciousness. His forthcoming commission REPARATIONS (2007/2021) champions the international movement to secure reparations for descendants of Africans enslaved in the U.S. Once widely perceived as a radical dream, its call has been reignited by a new generation of activists who have pushed it to the fore of public policy. While the mural underscores and condemns the grotesque inequities that persist today, it is also a hopeful proposal for justice and solidarity that invites viewers to imagine a brighter future.
Liz Hernández’s Conjuro para la sanación de nuestro futuro (2020)
Through September 5, 2022
Artist Liz Hernández works with topics related to her upbringing in Mexico City, creating imagery from memories of buildings covered in handmade signs, chaotic trips to markets, her grandmother’s house, and the syncretic healing rituals she learned from women who led the iglesia popular (people’s church) they attended. For Conjuro para la sanación de nuestro futuro (A spell for the healing of our future) (2020), completed while the museum was closed due to the pandemic, she brings forth symbols and icons from milagros, or miracle charms, to summon a higher power for our community’s health and future and remind us that we are all connected. For Hernández, this higher power is not intended to be “God” as a single force, but rather our shared existence — the living world and everything included in it.
Twin Walls Mural Company’s Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams (2020)
Through September 5, 2022
Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams is a mural by Elaine Chu and Marina Perez-Wong, also known as Twin Walls Mural Company. The artists deploy themes of healing and resiliency in response to imbalances stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, generational trauma, pollution, and inequality, as well as to Perez-Wong’s ongoing battle with stage IV breast cancer. With symbols of wholeness and unity emanating from a sakura, or cherry blossom tree, the vibrant work imagines healing for the current world we live in, hope for ourselves and our loved ones, and a mindful preparedness for Perez-Wong as she embarks on her journey to recovery. It is a mural for a brighter future, featuring portraits of students from Oakland School for the Arts and members of the Radical Monarchs triumphantly dancing to advance new possibilities.
Major support for Bay Area Walls is provided by the SFMOMA Roberta and Steve Denning Commissioning Endowed Fund.
Generous support is provided by the Mary Jane Elmore West Coast Exhibition Fund, Randi and Bob Fisher, the Patricia W. Fitzpatrick Commissioning Endowed Fund, Katie Hall and Tom Knutsen, the Elaine McKeon Endowed Exhibition Fund, the Diana Nelson and John Atwater Commissioning Fund, and the Denise Littlefield Sobel Commissioning Endowed Fund.
Additional support is provided by Alka and Ravin Agrawal, Oya and Bulent
Eczacibasi, and Linda and Jon Gruber in memory of Gretchen Berggruen.
Header Image: Twin Walls Mural Company, Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams, 2020 (in process); photo: Katherine Du Tiel