Thursday, April 30, 2009


Exhibition Dates:
 Sunday, May 3 to Sunday May 31, 2009
Opening Reception:  Saturday, May 2, 2009.  7 to 9pm

The Mills College Art Museum is proud to present Young Americans, featuring works by the 2009 Master of Fine Arts degree recipients. This exhibition provides an opportunity to see works in all media created by a promising group of emerging artists eager to share what they have been developing during their graduate program with a broader audience. This year's exhibition is curated by Terri Cohn, Bay Area writer, independent curator, and faculty member at the San Francisco Art Institute.

In the brochure accompanying the exhibition, Cohn observes that the ten artists who will receive their MFA degrees this year are unusual in their choice to name their MFA show Young Americans. The title situates them as citizens emerging within a national context, and suggests that in addition to their collective experiences as youthful Americans-with the burden of history this implies, this identity also affords them an intrinsic right to personal freedom. A desire for a sense of security-articulated in various metaphoric and formal ways-is one fundamental concern expressed through their work.

Kate Pszotka's fascination with the idea of home and stability has motivated her consideration of family members, which she represents iconographically with everyday objects, realized as paper cut out line drawings. Gina Tuzzi's seemingly simple, naïve structures-houses, barns, huts-stacked on trucks to become rolling homes, or represented as drawings, underscore a sense of safety and comfort in the mythic past of coastal California.

In related ways, Esther Traugot's knitted tree sweaters and forest of trunks with projected flower pattern coverings suggest the utopian potential of the natural world, as well as her desire to protect and preserve it. By contrast, Leigh Merrill's large-scale photographs explore the relationship between fantasy and reality in our constructed environments, blending urban and suburban architecture and landscape styles, or cut and artificial flowers. Modesto Covarrubias has spent much time creating rooms and shelters as means to define and express his fears, insecurities, and sense of vulnerability, while Andrew Witrak's sculptures pose slightly ridiculous solutions to the question of what can provide some fleeting impression of safety or exit: lifejackets sewn together; a beeswax boarding pass. Annie Vought translates found handwritten letters to wall-mounted versions created with cutout text, fragile portraits of each author that are reminiscent of silhouettes.

Joseph Berryhill's paintings express a tension between order and chaos, proposing ways that animate experience can be distilled into visual experience. Steuart Pittman's abstract paintings reflect what he calls a "longing for quiet beauty in a chaotic, high-speed age," while Brian Caraway creates tools and rules to implement his mixed media works, relating his process-based investigations through texture as they change over time.

As artists who have come of age in the extraordinarily volatile circumstances of the 21st century, these individuals focus on singular modes of expression as a way to make sense of and stake a claim in their separate and collective futures. Their works express a sense of hope and possibility, going forward into their lives as young Americans.

In addition to an essay by Cohn, the illustrated catalog for Young Americans contains an essay by critic Glen Helfand. This publication will be available in the gallery during the course of the exhibition.

Mills College Art Museum

5000 MacArthur Boulevard

Oakland, CA 94613



Museum Hours:

Tuesday-Sunday 11:00-4:00pm

Wednesday 11:00-7:30pm

Monday Closed


Admission is free for all exhibitions and programs. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Is Here!

Young Americans and Open Studios on the horizon...

The Senior Thesis Exhibition, Meridian, just closed this past weekend.  Now, the graduate students are gearing up for the MFA Thesis Exhibition as well as Spring 2009 Open Studios.

Come back for updates...

Mills College MFA Open Studios Blog Page:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mary Heilmann - Thursday April 16, 2009

The Mills College Art Department's annual Correnah Wright art lecture will feature artist Mary Heilmann on April 16 at 7:30 pm at the Littlefield Concert Hall, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613. The event is free and all members of the public are invited.

The New York Times describes Heilmann's work as "wildly colorful abstractions that riff with irreverent verve on basic elements of Modernist painting: the grid, the monochromatic rectangle, stripes, organic forms, linear webs, spots, checks, and drips...She makes it look easy and fun...the final picture almost always seems spontaneous, and her lively touch gives her works a sensuous intimacy."

The New Yorker said she is "a formalist impatient with formal consistency" and describes her technique as "Big, fluid strokes often seem to sail, albeit invisibly, into surrounding space. When she does emphasize the edge, it's as if she were observing the arbitrary rules of a rather silly but interesting game."

Heilmann will present Her Life which is a multimedia presentation she said is arranged in a poetic rather than linear narrative tale. "I'd like the people that are watching it to get a feeling for how it felt to be making that work," she said.

Her recent exhibition Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone was at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City.

Heilmann, 68, is a California native who grew up in San Francisco. She received a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1962, and a MA from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1967. In 1968, Heilmann went to New York City to try to break into the minimalism and post-minimalism art scene dominated by male artists. She came as a woman, a Californian, and a painter and with that she faced challenges from the art establishment.

"She's an inspiration," said Mills College art professor and head of the department Ron Nagle, "She stuck to her guns, got into fights with the art world, but didn't change her style."

Nagle, who knew Heilmann when they were at UC Berkeley together where she originally trained in ceramics, calls Heilmann a "minimalist with a funky edge."

Her colorful, playful, and abstract painted works range from truncated drips of paint to nesting canvases and looping brushstrokes, but she also creates chairs and ceramics.

While her works have been in major galleries and museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Guggenheim Museum, for more than three decades, their price have only recently escalated with the demand from collectors clamoring for them. In the late 1990s, the Hauser & Wirth gallery in London, which represents her, also began cultivating an audience for her in Europe.

Heilmann's current auction record for a single work is $169,000, set at Sotheby's in May 2008 for The Yellow Blue of the Square Pair, 1976, which sold for $38,4000 only four years earlier. However, 303 Gallery in New York, which also represents Heilmann, said her large paintings sell for about $300,000.

Each year the Mills College Art Department sponsors a practicing artist for the Correnah Wright lecture. The annual event gives graduate studio art students access to some of the top artists in the country. More information about this selective art program is available at

Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity to approximately 950 undergraduate women and 500 graduate women and men. Since 2000, applications to Mills College have more than doubled. The College is one of the top colleges in the West by U.S. News & World Report, one of the Best 368 Colleges by the Princeton Review, and ranks 75th among America's best colleges by Visit us at

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mills College Senior Thesis Show 2009: Meridian

April 1 to April 19, 2009.  Mills College Art Museum.

The Mills College Art Museum announces Meridian, the 2009 Mills College Senior Exhibition. Meridian features work by 15 undergraduate students who have studied with Mills College art faculty - Jesus Aguilar, Jennifer Brandon, Ken Burke, Freddy Chandra, Julie Chen, James Fei, Michael Hall, Samara Halperin, Hung Liu, Robin McDonnell, Anna Valentina Murch, Ron Nagle, Sean Olson, Dharma Strasser MacColl, Michael Temperio, Deirdre Visser, Catherine Wagner, and Ethan Worden.

Alison Ashcraft layers photographs of the American landscape with drawings that question the psychology of the national culture.

Cherise Bentosino uses ready-made materials in modular sculptures to bring a renewed scientific and artistic perspective on the unnoticed patterns of our universe.

Danica Collins works with clay and other materials to abstract memories and history.

Cocoa Costales confronts and dissects trends of addiction and methods of consumption in her work. Using painting and photography, she navigates the complex relationship between person and product.

Amanda Cronkright works with oil paint to come face to face with herself.

Maryam Epting works with photography and video to consider and accommodate contradictions.

Kathalina Ho's paintings explore the particulars of the ways we live as individuals and as a community.

Amelia Hogan's work consists of mixed media pine boxes referencing the tenuous subject of child abuse and the internal dialogue that is often forgotten in external discussions.

Eunjee Lee paints with charcoal and oil pastels on paper and mylar about the restoration of destroyed buildings to console people in their sorrow.

Sophie Leininger creates large scale paintings to explore how metaphor may construct myth and humanness.

Anne Magratten is a painter with an obsession for the body as a medium of emotion.

Jennifer Martin explores color relationships, the viewer's interaction with them, and emphasizes the creative process through using randomization and chance as a determining factor in her work.

Lily Ann Page creates fashion-inspired, ambiguous narratives through photography.

Vivianna Peña shares her history and personal experiences, which root from her Mexican and Chicano upbringing, through illustration in ink and paint.

Meryl Rose Phillips uses video installation to tackle the longstanding issues and connotations that come along with living above or below the social and federal boundary of the U.S. Interstate 580 in Oakland, California.

Public Program

Special Event with Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company
Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 7:00-9:00pm
Mills College Art Museum
Suggested donation $5.00 (sliding scale)

The Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company (DAYPC) is a multicultural group of teens who create original performance art pieces, in collaboration with professional artists, that combine hip-hop, modern, and aerial dance, theater, martial arts, song and rap. DAYPC comes out of Destiny Arts Center, an Oakland-based nonprofit violence prevention and arts education organization that has been serving youth for over 20 years, through after-school, summer and weekend programs in dance, theater, martial arts, conflict resolution, self-defense, and youth leadership at our Oakland center and in over 25 East Bay public schools and other community centers.

Click here for more information.