Collective Arising: The Insistence of Black Bay Area Artists

June 25 - November 27, 2022

Co-curated by Ashara Ekundayo and Lucia Olubunmi R. Momoh

Collective Arising: The Insistence of Black Bay Area Artists features art by contemporary Black artists who have participated in interdisciplinary collectives, including nure, 3.9 Collective, House of Malico, CTRL+SHIFT, and Black [Space] Residency. Collectives—groups of like-minded individuals coming together to achieve a common goal—have offered space for Black artists to expand their practice, amplify their voices, and nurture one another. Working in community, they share resources, build cooperatively, and create side-by-side in opposition to hyper-individualistic capitalist systems, such as the art market, in which competition is a requirement for  participation. In this way, collectives have served both the revolutionary and creative practices of Black, queer, and femme people across the diaspora. The artworks in Collective Arisingwhich includes textile, sculpture, glass, print, painting, photography, video, and installation—speak to this dual purpose at the core of the formation of artist collectives.

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Adrian Octavius Walker, STILL Pushing Through, 2022. Archival pigment print, 10 x 8 feet. Courtesy the artist and Pt.2 Gallery, Oakland
yétúndé olagbaju, A Chrysalis No. 2, 2021. Bronze bust and pedestal with black walnut wood pedestal, 36 x 18 inches. Courtesy of the Museum of Sonoma County
Ramekon O’Arwisters, Cheesecake #14, 2019. Fabric, ceramics from CSULB ceramic program, beads, pins, 29 x 20 x 18 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Patricia Sweetow Gallery, Los Angeles


Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, CTRL+SHIFT 
Sydney Cain, aka sage stargate, 3.9 Art Collective 
Erica Deeman, Black [Space] Residency
Cheryl Derricotte, 3.9 Art Collective
Sasha Kelley, House of Malico & We Are the Ones 
shah noor hussein, House of Malico
Ramekon O’Arwisters, 3.9 Art Collective
yétúndé olagbaju, nure, no neutral alliance
Karen Seneferu, The Black Woman Is God
Muzae Sesay, nure
Adrian Octavius Walker, nure

Collective Arising: The Insistence of Black Bay Area Artists is made possible through the generosity of Diane and Jack Stuppin, Community Foundation Sonoma County, Fay Gallus and Richard Sweet, Ron Casentini, 100 Black Men of Sonoma County, Inc., David Salm, Estelle Rogers and Hal Kwalwasser, Sonoma County Black Forum, anonymous, and Kelly-Moore Paints.


About the Curators

Ashara Ekundayo is a Black feminist interdisciplinary independent curator, cultural theologian, arts organizer and strategist whose intersectional creative practice is rooted in the study and creation of Black archives, site-responsive ceremony, and the specific lives, traditions, and expertise of Black womxn of the African Diaspora. Her philanthropic platform Artist As First Responder serves as a container for imaginations and inquiries for creatives working at the intersection of design, technology and activism to heal communities and save lives. As a former gallerist at Omi Arts Project Space and Ashara Ekundayo Gallery she mentored a new generation of cultural scholars and art collectors and currently serves as a forum curator at the Museum of The African Diaspora and Co-Founder/Director at Black [Space] Residency while also holding a seat on the Advisory Board of SFMoMA’s SECA Committee. In Fall 2022 she will join the Headlands Center for the Arts as an Artist-In-Residence investigating and transcribing joy-informed pedagogies that reimagine collective liberation and document cartographies of Black power.

Lucia Olubunmi R. Momoh is a curator, writer, and scholar currently working as the Constance E. Clayton Curatorial Fellow at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Born in the East Bay and raised in Sacramento, Momoh previously served as a Curatorial Associate with Prospect.5 Yesterday we said tomorrow, as a Curatorial Assistant at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and as a Curatorial Fellow at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Her research examines issues of anti-Black racism, sexism, and the production of history, as well as the role museums play in the formation of national and regional identities. Momoh views her curatorial practice as an extension of her social and environmental activism and her museum and academic work as decolonial interventions.

Virtual Experience

Explore the exhibition through 360° imaging! 

This virtual experience is generously provided by Steve Vargas, VARGAS XR "Mind Over Matter."

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Artists' Bios

Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo

Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo (they/them/she/her) is an artist, activist, educator, storyteller & curator who lives/works between Lisjan Ohlone Land [Oakland, CA] and Powhatan Land [Richmond,VA]. Their work has been included in exhibitions and performances at Konsthall C [Stockholm, Sweden], SEPTEMBER Gallery [Kinderhook, NY], EFA Project Space [New York City, NY], Leslie Lohman Museum [New York City, NY], Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [San Francisco, CA] and Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive [Berkeley, CA], amongst others. Their artist books and prints have been published by Endless Editions, Childish Books, Play Press, Press Press, Sming Sming and Night Diver Press. Lukaza got their BFA at California College of the Arts and MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and is a current member of Moments Co-op [Oakland, CA] and Book/Print of Color Collective.


Sydney Cain aka sage stargate

A former member of 3.9 Collective, Sydney Cain, aka sage stargate, is a visual artist born and raised in San Francisco, CA. Their work reflects encounters with unseen realities. Cain privileges works on paper and engages graphite, powdered metals, lithography, dye, and chalk as transcendent emblems of impermanence and transformation. These specific materials, as well as other mixed media and moving images act as ciphers to assist her in decoding the seen and unseen worlds. Their use of graphite is especially integral to their practice: the element carbon stimulates the allotropic and transformative potential of the medium. Chalk, another preferred carbon based material, commonly formed from the shells of ancient deep marine organisms, acts as a medium imbued with the essence of spiral time theories.


Erica Deeman 

Erica Deeman (b. Nottingham, UK) is a visual artist whose work explores the intersections of race, gender, and the hybridity of Black identity. Deeman is concerned with the multiple ways selfhood manifests through transnational and hybrid modes; and how we find a sense of belonging and ‘home’ through migratory patterns, memory, cultural and personal experience, and ancestral legacy. Her multidisciplinary practice embodies the complexity and transformational nature of Blackness. Deeman currently lives in Seattle, WA and works between here and the Bay Area. She received a Bachelor of Arts, Public Relations, degree in 2000 from Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Photography, a degree in 2014 from Academy of Art, San Francisco, CA. Deeman is an Art Practice MFA candidate 2022, at UC Berkeley, CA.


Cheryl Derricotte

Member emeritus of 3.9 Collective, Cheryl  Derricotte is a visual artist working primarily in glass and paper. Originally from Washington, DC, she lives and makes art in San Francisco, CA. Derricotte makes art from research, which leads her to investigate economic and environmental concerns through observations of current events, politics, and urban landscapes. Her art has been featured in the New York Times, The Guardian, The San Francisco Chronicle, MerciSF and the San Francisco Business Times. She was awarded the commission to develop a monument to Harriet Tubman at the transit-oriented development Gateway at Millbrae Station, believed to be the first sculptural tribute to the abolitionist in glass. 


Sasha Kelley 

Sasha Kelley is a multidisciplinary artist that uses photography, place making & social practice to examine the topics of Black Identity, Women of Color Creativity, Cooperative Communities & Divine Archetypes. Kelley uses her creative practice as a tool to connect her personal, social and political experiences with that of the larger collective. As a social practice practitioner, Sasha Kelley, has a history of building & bridging communities to produce works centered in political, spiritual & communal care. Kelley is the cofounder of Malidoma Collective & The House of Malico, two groups centered in the cultivating the brilliance within black/brown/femme/&queer creatives through public programming. Sasha Kelley has exhibited at Siete Potencias Gallery, Krowswork and Somarts. Her work is featured in the permanent collection at Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive. Kelley has been published in Fader, Umber Magazine and Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham


shah noor hussein

A member of House of Malico collective, shah’s practice with film photography began at a young age, when they began bringing disposable cameras on their trips to Sudan over long hot summers. The practice has now expanded to gallery installations and experimental filmmaking. Collective Arising, will feature shah’s photography, alongside her collective member Sasha Kelley, which explores the collective identity formation found in both their Sudanese aunties—their rituals and warmth—and their chosen spiritual communities in the San Francisco Bay. Together Kelley and hussein’s work will demonstrate the complex elements of Black femme identities.


Ramekon O’Arwisters 

Member emeritus of 3.9 Collective, Ramekon O’Arwisters found a safe haven quilting with his grandmother while growing up in Jim Crow South during the Civil Rights Movement. These early memories prompted a nascent series of unique crocheted, ceramic sculptures, Mending. Employing ordinary household or decorative pottery, broken and discarded, O’Arwisters combined traditional crafts into a dimensional woven tapestry, stripping both cloth and ceramic of their intended function. Collective Arising will feature his newest series of sculptures, Cheesecake—these works have transformed from something broken, needing mending to fully determined and self-aware. Weaving textiles around large, broken ceramics are stand-ins for the artist’s feelings of anxiety, fear, hopelessness, anger, and despair associated with the permanence of White-body supreme. Combining lacy, embellished fabrics with ceramics contributed by students and faculty from California State University at Long Beach, his sculptural hybrids embody both danger and seduction.


Yétundé Olagbaju 

A member of nure collective, Yétúndé Olagbaju is an artist and maker, currently residing in Oakland, CA. They utilize video, sculpture, action, gesture, and performance as through-lines for inquiries regarding Black labor, legacy and processes of healing. They are rooted in the need to understand history, the people that made it, the myths surrounding them and how their own body is implicated in history’s timeline. They have shown work and projects with Oakland Museum of California, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Pt. 2 Gallery, Southern Exposure, SOMArts Cultural Center, Untitled Art Fair, Art Basel, and more. They recently finished a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts where they began work on a series, on becoming a star…, which will be featured in Collective Arising. The series explores the life, sexuality, and afterlife of “Mammy,” the trope most often associated with dark-skinned full-bodied Black womxn.


Karen Seneferu 

Karen Seneferu is a mixed media artist whose work challenges the idea that beauty exists outside of one’s cultural reality. Her work has been exhibited at the Oakland Museum, The California African American Museum, Yerba Buena Center, Skirball Museum, Tufts University Museum, and Museum of the African Diaspora. Seneferu is also the founder and Artistic Director of  the exhibit The Black Woman Is God, which has changed the artistic and cultural landscape of California art. Due to her long history of creating spaces for the collective care and celebration Black femme-identifying individuals, Seneferu has been invited to create a new work of her own that centers the notion of Black womxn and the African continent as origins of humanity.


Muzae Sesay 

A member of nure collective, Muzae Sesay explores the feelings that arise from pairing the absoluteness of everyday life with the strict, rigid fragments found in architecture and manufactured spaces. Utilising skewed perspectives of space and shape collapsed into flat two-dimensional planes, he creates surreal geometric landscapes and structures. Inspired by ideas of cultural reflection and developed by questioning the validity of memory, Sesay’s work often depicts worlds he’s created in response to social introspection, challenging his own perceptions of reality. 


Adrian Octavius Walker 

Adrian Octavius Walker is a mixed media artist/photographer whose work seeks to expand the canon surrounding the nuances of Black life through tenderness and grit. His fascination with the tangible is the driving force to expand his visual language through various materials. Walker’s passion lies in using his practice to platform critical discourse around the imagination in black nostalgia. His work cast questions that inspire the viewer to investigate their own biases and opportunities for community engagement. Adrian’s approach to both still photography and sculpture is rooted in his commitment to archiving Black stories for the future. Ultimately, Adrian Octavius Walker uses his practice as a space to discover, document, and reminisce about the cultural impact of Black life in America.