Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

The Human Spirit

Bridging the Art Center’s historical role in presenting formative exhibitions of the Bay Area Figurative artists in the 1950s, The Human Spirit: Contemporary Figuration as an Expression of Humanism will extend our consideration of this legacy to the work of over 20 contemporary Bay Area artists who have continued and expanded the figurative art tradition through paintings, sculpture, photography, video, and performance. This survey will include the work of Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, Terry St. John, Christopher Brown, Charles Garabedian, and Enrique Chagoya. Following a highly personal path with exuberant use of materials and iconography, these artists have forged visual language built on vocabularies including folk, medieval, aboriginal, and outsider art. The work has engaged popular culture, autobiography, inner landscape and dream to produce unusual palettes, inflected mark making, and often dizzying perspectives.

Pursuing other modes of autobiography, social commentary, and cultural reflection, the sculpture, film, video, and performance of Lava Thomas, Kota Ezawa, Farley Gwazda, and Allan deSouza draw the painted dialogue into other media. From the intimacy of the photography of Judy Dater, Katy Grannan, and Richard Misrach, to the beading and capturing of images in the memorial hangings of Taraneh Hemami, the myriad manifestations of the human visage and the human spirit for survival extend this exhibition beyond the personal or the domestic. In a time of social, economic, and environmental instability, the art employing the human figure to illuminate the struggles and spirit of contemporary life is of greater power and significance than it has been in nearly a century.

We hope you will join us for upcoming events and performances in conjunction with this event. Please view our Event Calendar for the entire series.


Viola Frey, Untitled (Skull with Hat on Glove), 1978)
Ceramic, 11 x 10 1/2 x 12 inches (27.94 x 26.67 x 30.48 cm)
Image courtesy of the Artists’ Legacy Foundation
© 2016 Artists’ Legacy Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New Yo

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


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