Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

Tanja Geis: Recompose

Tanja Geis: Recompose

Exhibition: April 5 – June 3, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 15, 12pm-2pm
Gallery Walkthrough with Tanja Geis: Thursday, May 11, 5:30pm-6:30pm  |  More info…

Closing Reception: Saturday June 3, 2pm-4pm  |  More info…

Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm
Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804

In the first exhibition of The Greenhouse Series, Recompose, artist Tanja Geis displays mesmerizing cyanotypes of painted decomposing common murres, a bird species that experienced historic die-offs along local coasts in the summer of 2015 as a direct result of global warming.  A cyanotype is like a greenhouse in that they both gather light’s potential, the former being a blue print made from direct sunlight, the latter a building where sunlight’s warmth sticks around.  At times shadows are cast onto the prints by suspended sculptures formed from sea debris, mud from the San Francisco Bay, and Hong Kong beach sand from Geis’s childhood. As displayed, late-day sun rays will imperceptibly eat away at the cyanotypes’ blues and the night restore them.  After all, a greenhouse is a place to recompose.  It’s a space where matter breaks down, finds the great creative spark, and makes living beings.  With carcasses of starving birds, ocean litter, and mud ridden with local toxins and heavy metals, Geis reassembles the components of decay into new forms, new bodies, new life. 

About the Artist: Tanja Geis makes work that invites intimacy with human-disturbed ecosystems through queering, drawing close to and staying with the impacts of humans on the liveliness of non-humans. Geis holds an MFA in Art Practice from University of California Berkeley and a BA in Fine Art from Yale University. She has exhibited at the Berkeley Art Museum, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, and galleries in Europe and Asia. Her residencies include Headlands Center for the Arts Graduate and Affiliate Fellowships, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the Blue Mountain Center and Kala Art Institute. 

About the Greenhouse Exhibition Series: The Greenhouse is an exhibition series that focuses on the climate crisis and environmental justice movements in Richmond, CA.  The greenhouse effect is a central metaphor for understanding the conditions that account for life on earth as well as how global warming and thus catastrophic climate change work.  In this three-part series, Richmond Art Center presents the work of Tanja Geis, David Burke, and Abi Mustapha, who together tell a story and activate an experience of resilience and growth, culminating in a celebration of local environmental activists.  Geis transplants imperiled regional fauna, ocean litter, and sculpted intertidal muck into The Greenhouse; Burke tends to the Anthropocene’s industrial production, ecological destruction, and potential regeneration; and Mustapha gathers a bouquet of portraits honoring great Richmonders who have come to our environmental rescue.  Seedlings of hope and flowerings of progress are big parts of the landscape in Richmond. 

The three exhibitions in The Greenhouse will be accompanied by a series of public programs and events throughout the year. With gatherings ranging from community bike rides to a speaker series, The Greenhouse Public Programs will be a space to plant, nurture, and grow ideas around environmental justice. 

The Greenhouse is organized in partnership with Round Weather and curated by its director Chris Kerr.  Round Weather is a nonprofit art gallery in Oakland, CA committed to alleviating the climate crisis. It directs funds raised through the sale of exceptional contemporary art to three nonprofit organizations selected for their work to mitigate climate change, redress environmental injustice, and advance a just and speedy transition back to sustainable relationships between the Earth and its people.

Top image: Tanja Geis, See Bird III, 2016

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Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804-1600


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Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat 10am-4pm