Artist & Project Highlights

Artists: Bijari

This Brazilian Art and Design Collective has developed projects that pertain to people who have had to flee and are no longer visible in their original communities (and often trying to remain hidden where they have fled).

They’ve created empowering fabric murals painted on fabric with words that describe the history and current conditions of the people living in the Santo Domingo Savio (SDS) community in Medellín, Colombia, and laid them over rooftops. Community members, many of whom had fled from violence in their hometowns to the SDS community, could see these murals while riding Metrocable aerial cable cars.

Artist & Project Highlights

Artist: Ping Chong

This artist remains a significant and vital contributor to the field as he not only activates the community around relevant issues but enlists actual community members to participate and collaborate in projects that are presented in a theatrical format to a broader audience. In listing the participants to tell their stories, Ping Chong re-edits the discourse into compelling theatrical presentations. Members of the ad hoc theater company read the text of their own as well as others’ transcribed stories. This constitutes a compelling and inclusive presentation format.

—— Lonnie Graham

Ping Chong + Company produces theatrical works addressing the important cultural and civic issues of our times, striving to reach the widest audiences with the greatest level of artistic innovation and social integrity. The company was founded in 1975 by leading theatrical innovator Ping Chong with a mission to create works of theater and art that explore the intersections of race, culture, history, art, media and technology in the modern world. Today, Ping Chong + Company produces original works by a close-knit ensemble of affiliated artists, under the artistic leadership of Ping Chong. Productions range from intimate oral history projects to grand scale cinematic multidisciplinary productions featuring puppets, performers, and full music and projection scores. The art reveals beauty, precision, and a commitment to social justice.

From the artist’s website
Artist & Project Highlights, Collective Members

Susan R. Kirshenbaum: Barbie on the Cusp

Susan R. Kirshenbaum’s work is about uncovering, revealing, and baring naked truths. It is personal, political, and feminist. From a figurative artist who draws models, to creating a personal narrative using iconic Barbie Dolls, Kirshenbaum has crossed over into new territory for her work. This project reflects a return to storytelling that is reminiscent of her early work with performance and video art in the 1980s. By incorporating aspects of her practice that had long been set aside, she shifted from a 2-dimensional presentation into an immersive experience. She filled a gallery’s walls and floor with objects including: drawings, costumes and props, Barbie dolls of all ages (well-worn, naked, and mostly headless), old photos of her, an artist-made book, printed books, and an open book to “write your own Barbie story here”, plus a video of reading her story aloud. The room was cordoned off with hazard tape. Barbie on the Cusp was created to plumb the depths of the artist’s childhood traumas and how she used Barbie to play out her fears. Barbie is the doll that sets an example to youngsters since the late 1950s and can still be used as a role model or a safe vehicle with which to experiment and role play ideas around our body, our hair, our gender, our sexuality, our family, our career, and in this case, on the verge of adulthood, our secrets. The falseness of the old Barbie bodies connects to the artist’s ongoing pursuit of capturing the essence of a person through drawing. Encountering this installation might leave visitors considering their own stories of youth in relation to Barbie and how these early experiences have played out in their lives today.

Photograph of a torn piece of binder paper with pencil writing on a black background. The blue lines on the paper are blurred from a water stain in the bottom right. The writing in cursive reads "Try to take a bath (or shower) sometime Today." and on the next line "My keys are in my wallet tonight in the drawer with my green scarf."
Artist & Project Highlights

Kija Lucas: Collections from Sundown

[ Above: Image © Kija Lucas; photograph from the series Collections from Sundown ]

Aging is the the most universal form of invisibility. It transcends color, creed, and class and slowly transforms us all from here to slowly no here. If the memory of our lives starts to disappear as well, who are we? And were we ever here at all?

Artist Kija Lucas is a San Francisco-based artist exploring memory through photography. In the series Collections from Sundown, she archives the notes and reminders of her Grandmother as she perseveres through memory-loss from Alzheimer’s. Lucas’s quiet series of color photographs with deep black background and sharp focus honors the strength of person, the process of loss, and the tiny remnants we hold onto to fight against the inevitable invisibility of dying.

Collections from Sundown focuses on my grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The term Sundown here refers to both Sundowner’s Syndrome, a symptom of Alzheimer’s, and the metaphor for the end of life. Sundowning includes increased confusion, collecting and packing of belongings, and often preparing for a perceived trip. These still lives include images of what she collected in a single day, as well as groupings of notes she wrote over a period of several years, and make evident the changes in reality that come with her disease. The notes reflect the repetition experienced by loved ones of a person with Alzheimer’s.

Project statement by Kija Lucas

Kija Lucas is an artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She uses photography to explore ideas of home, heritage, and inheritance. She is interested in how ideas are passed down and seemingly inconsequential moments create changes that last generations.

Her work has been exhibited at Oakland Museum of California, Anglim Gilbert Gallery, Headlands Center for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries, California Institute of Integral Studies, Palo Alto Arts Center, Intersection for the Arts, Mission Cultural Center, and Root Division, as well as Venice Arts in Los Angeles, CA, La Sala d’Ercole/Hercules Hall in Bologna Italy, and Casa Escorsa in Guadalajara, Mexico. Lucas has been an Artist in Residence at Montalvo Center for the Arts, Grin City Collective, and The Wassaic Artist Residency. She is a member of 3.9 Art Collective and the Curatorial Council at Southern Exposure. Lucas received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and her MFA from Mills College.

See this series and more of her work at

Artist & Project Highlights, Collective Members, Invisibility Projects, News & Updates, Research, Testimonies

Welcome to The Athenaeum

Named for the sanctuary of Athena frequented by poets and scholars, this virtual reading room (magazine, blog, etc.) is a repository for news, research, projects, artists, and testimonies on the wide topic of Invisibility.