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F. Whitney Aguiniga, Not For Nothing, 2016, Archival Pigment Print

This Spring, as students earn their degrees from the 8 Bay Area institutions Embark Arts supports, Embark Gallery presents a show exploring failure. Inevitably an integral part of the creative process, failure is often touted as the symbol of valiant artists experimenting with new ideas, methods or media. This exhibition aims to instead showcase failure as a valid conceptual strategy on its own, and not just the byproduct of artistic risk-taking. Presenting alternatives to “success” as it is commonly understood, the artists in this exhibition use subversive modes of failure to both political and aesthetic ends.

Whitney Aguiniga (Mills) works in humorous photography that speaks to the humiliation of artistic trials and tribulations. Exploring different materials and challenging herself to take the meticulously rendered photographs with no outside help, Aguiniga toes the line between success and failure while commenting on the archetype of ‘The Artist’, similar to how Cindy Sherman before her addressed ‘The Woman’. For Keith Daly (SJSU), the presentation of a book of rejected applications to previous Embark shows is a droll exercise in self-deprecation and irony. It not only outlines a most common experience for emerging artists and graduate students, but is also a nod to past conceptual art that catalogs failure, like Michael Asher’s “The Museum As Muse,” in which Asher edited a catalog of all the works deaccessioned by the MoMA since 1929. Flavia D’Urso (CCA) is a ceramic sculptor whose work speaks to corporeal vulnerability- the failure of the body in the face of decay and when corrupted by the machine. Mattson Fields (Mills) explores the binary expectations of identity as both a man and a gay man, to embrace masculinity or to reject it. In his own words, “I oscillate between the two, never truly achieving either.” Tamara Porras (CCA) presents a heartfelt research project she began upon discovering the man who raised her was not her biological father. This exploration of the failure of family, memory and heritage reveals how one’s search for selfhood can often be futile, or at least out of our immediate control. Meganne Rosen (CCA) addresses the failure of the nation in the 2016 election. Inspired by the “subversive pockets of women” in the Midwest who did not vote for Trump, and disgusted by the 53% who did, Rosen has created a visual representation of the violent ideological rupture in contemporary American politics.

Embark Gallery offers exhibition opportunities to graduate students of the Fine Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. We provide a space for an engaged community of artists, curators and scholars, and we aim to expand the audience for up and coming contemporary art. The juried exhibitions are held at our gallery in San Francisco at the historic Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. Press Previews by appointment. 

Hours: 12–5pm every Saturday and Sunday, June 17- July 22, 2017.