Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

Parts Unseen

This exhibition brings together recent works by three artists who received the Spotlight Award for their work in the 2018 Members’ Show: Bill Abright, Jennie Braman, and Ruth Tabancay. While working in disparate media, these artists share an interest in transfiguring and deconstructing the human form.

An Artists’ Talk will be held on Saturday, June 15 starting at 11am. More info…

Bill Abright’s ceramic sculptures reveal chaos within recognizable figuration to explore the complexities of body-mind psychology. Through layering miniature thrown vessels, abstract shapes, and fragile stick-like limbs, he creates surrealistic composites that imagine how the essence of a form is the sum of many strange parts. The artist describes his work as a kind of clay-built stream-of-consciousness, “My best work doesn’t know its end in its beginning.”

Abright was introduced to clay by Bruce Duke at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton in the late 60’s. He completed his graduate degree at San Francisco State in 1974 working with Bud McKee, Stephen De Staebler, Joe Hawley, and David Kuraoka. Abright recently retired after 40 years teaching ceramics at the College of Marin. He has exhibited nationwide and his work is in collections including the Oakland Museum of California, the Crocker Art Museum, and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC. He lives and works in San Anselmo with his wife, the artist Claudia Tarantino. They have two sons who are artists, Oben Abright and Guston Abright.

Jennie Braman’s most recent body of work is based on an imagined group of beings she calls Gatherers. In starting with the idea that bodies are sites where stories begin, Braman’s work uses figuration to explore nonlinear storytelling. A sense of crossing – the artist calls it “leaping” – is built into her worldbuilding through techniques that include working with her non-dominant hand, using ink on a slow-drying resistant surface (Yupo paper), and combining text with pictorial imagery.

Braman is an artist and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is full-time faculty in Studio Art and Art History at Berkeley City College in Berkeley, CA, and served as Chair of the Art Program for the last decade. Braman’s current drawings investigate the nature of representation and the creative language of the body. She received her MFA degree from John F. Kennedy University, with a Certificate in Dream Studies, and received her BA in Art History, with a concentration in Women’s Studies at Williams College.

Ruth Tabancay trained as a microbiologist and in her creative practice uses techniques that include stitching, embroidery and felting, to recreate objects and organisms cell by cell with humor and poetry. She reveals both the extraordinary side of utilitarian objects – for example the wild threads of a nylon stocking – while also considering a darker side of what can’t be known with the naked eye alone. Her intricate series of embroidered Petri dishes uses colorful embroidery thread to illustrate the beauty of pathogens that include Mycobaterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis), Streptococcus pyogenes (strep throat, scarlet fever, impetigo) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea).

Tabancay’s passion for science led her to study bacteriology in college, and after a stint as a hospital laboratory technologist, she went on to medical school. After 11 years in private practice, she left medicine to study art. Her works refer largely to her previous studies in microbiology, anatomy, and geometry. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley; UC School of Medicine, San Francisco; and California College of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited in venues nationwide. Tabancay is a member of Mercury 20 Gallery in Oakland, and an active member of Surface Design Association and Pacific Rim Sculptors.

Images (l-r): Ruth Tabancay, What’s In You and On You: Normal Flora and Pathogens (detail), 2018 (Photo by Dana Davis); Jennie Braman, Untitled (Shadow #5), 2018; Bill Abright, Self Made Man, 2018. Courtesy of the Artists

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