Making [Space]: Artists and Organizers of Black [Space] Residency in Conversation
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Museum of the African Diaspora is pleased to present the first in a series of three panel discussions featuring the organizers and artists behind Black [Space] Residency, a physical container for imagination, inquiry, activity and rest for Black creatives located at Minnesota Street Studios. Panelists will include Ashara Ekundayo, Erica Deeman, Ron Saunders, and Binta Ayofemi in conversation about the founding and design of Black [Space] Residency and stewardship of the inaugural resident, the photographer, and former MoAD Emerging Artist Program artist, Chanell Stone. The conversation will be moderated by Elena Gross. MoAD is a supporting partner of Black [Space] Residency.
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Ashara Ekundayo is an independent curator, artist, creative industries entrepreneur and organizer working internationally across cultural, spiritual, civic, and social innovation spaces. Through her company AECreative Consulting Partners she places artists and cultural production as essential in equitable design practices, real estate development, and movement-building. Her intersectional worldview offers both an Afrofuturist and radical Black feminist framework to the public sector by centering the lives, traditions, and expertise of Black womxn of the African Diaspora.
Currently, Ashara serves as Chief Creative Catalyst at the Bay Area Girls & Womxn of Color Collaborative and sits on the Advisory Board of the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music and the Regional Advisory Board for Arts Web Alameda County. Her newest creative projects include BLATANT – a multi-disciplinary, monthly forum presented in collaboration with the Museum of the African Diaspora as well as a published maga(zine) offered in conjunction with her platform Artist As First Responder which excavates, documents, and archives the stories of present-day and next generation cultural workers whose art practices heal communities and save lives. Ashara recently launched the Reflection Fund for Black Bay Area creatives and is co-founder of Black [Space] Residency, a physical container for imagination, inquiry, activity and rest. Ashara.io
Erica Deeman (b. 1977) lives and works in Seattle, WA. Deeman received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Public Relations, degree in 2000 from Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK, a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Photography, degree in 2014 from Academy of Art, San Francisco, CA and is an MFA Student at UC Berkeley (graduating 2022).
Deeman is the recipient of 2019 Headlands Center for the Arts Residency, Sausalito, CA; a 2016 TOSA Award Finalist; the 2015 ProArts 2 x 2 Solos 2015: Emerging Artists; and the 2015 Working Artists Grant.
Deeman has had solo exhibitions at Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Archive, Berkeley, CA; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA, and Laurence Miller Gallery, New York, NY; Domestic and international group exhibitions include Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth, UK; The Hive, Worcester, Worcestershire, UK; Municipal Gallery, Library and Cultural Centre, Dublin, Ireland; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA; Old Truman Brewery, London, UK; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco, CA; and SF Cameraworks, San Francisco, CA; and University of Derby, Derbyshire, UK.
Permanent collections include Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA; Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, FL; Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco, CA and Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ. ericadeeman.com
Ron Moultrie Saunders is a San Francisco-based photographic artist, landscape architect and teacher who lives in the Bayview neighborhood. He is originally from Jamaica, Queens, New York. His artwork is in the San Francisco Arts Commission Civic Art Collection for works he completed for the San Francisco Library, Linda Brooks-Burton Bayview Branch, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, Laguna Honda Hospital and Public Utilities Commission’s new headquarters in San Francisco. He has been commissioned to create works for VM Ware, Inc. in Palo Alto, CA and Dallas, TX and for The San Francisco Travel Association’s offices. His work has been exhibited throughout the US including “The Secret Life of Plants,” solo shows (San Francisco International Airport, 2013 and CordenPotts Gallery, San Francisco, CA ) and group shows “Hiraeth” at Thacher Gallery, University of San Francisco (2015), “Self:Scape” at Middlesex County College, New Jersey (2012), “Exposed: Today’s Photography/Yesterday’s Technology” at th San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (2010) and “Measure of Time” at the Oakland Museum of California at City Center. His work is published in several books including 2016 INPHA 3 (International Photography Annual), Manifest Press, “Self Exposure: The Male Nude Self-Portrait” and “From Art to Landscape.” He was an artist-in-residence at STAR (Shipyard Trust for the Arts) in the Hunter’s Point Shipyard in San Francisco from 2013-2014. https://www.ronmsaunders.com/
Ayofemi’s activation of vacant sites, from an urban meadow to a reimagined cornerstore, suggests a state of mutability and transformation. Ayofemi’s first buildings as artwork, COMMONS, GUILD, and YARD open in Spring 2021.
Ayofemi shifts accepted narratives around urban voids, seemingly abandoned structures, and economic displacement, while limning notions of fugitivity, freedom, duration, and Black radical imagination. Ayofemi explores urban material, movement, making, manufacturing, and authorship of public and private space.
Ayofemi’s artwork GROUND, a series of sites and buildings, generates new visual language around urban voids, economy, displacement, abstraction and the senses.
Ayofemi’s work has been featured by Untitled, Kadist Foundation, SFMOMA, the Carpenter Center, the Wattis Institute, the Asian Art Museum, the New Museum, at dOCUMENTA, the British Arts Council, Rebuild Foundation, AIA, City of Oakland, and as an artist partner of Black Cultural Zone. https://bintaayofemi.com/
Elena Gross (she/they) is the Curatorial Manager of Exhibitions and Emerging Artists Program at Museum of the African Diaspora and an independent writer and culture critic living in Oakland, CA. She received an MA in Visual & Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts in 2016, and her BA in Art History and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2012. She specializes in representations of identity in fine art, photography, and popular media. Elena was formerly the creator and co-host of the arts & visual culture podcast what are you looking at? published by Art Practical. Her research has been centered around conceptual and material abstractions of the body in the work of Black modern and contemporary artists. She has presented her writing and research at institutions and conferences across the U.S., including Nook Gallery, Southern Exposure, KADIST, Harvard College, YBCA, California College of the Arts, and the GLBT History Museum. In 2018, she collaborated with the artist Leila Weefur on the publication Between Beauty & Horror (Sming Sming Books). The two performed a live adaptation of their work at The Lab, San Francisco. Her most recent writing can be found in the publication This Is Not A Gun (Sming Sming Books / Candor Arts) and OutWrite: The Conferences that Shaped LGBTQ Literary Culture, forthcoming from Rutgers University Press, co-edited with Julie R. Enszer.