Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Work by Michael Arcega, Ma Li and Eden V. Evans


April 23, 2015

San Francisco, CA–The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Michael Arcega, Ma Li and student artist Eden V. Evans on Friday, May 22, from 5-9pm (with performance by Ma Li at 7:30pm) and Saturday, May 23, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, May 26, from 5-7pm, with a gallery walk-through with the artists at 6:30pm. This exhibition will be the culmination of four months of work by the artists who have scavenged materials from the dump to make art and promote recycling and reuse.

Michael ArcegaMichael Arcega: Recologica: A Nacireman Excavation
In his most recent work, interdisciplinary artist Michael Arcega employs the term Nacirema (American spelled backwards), coined by Horace Mitchell Miner in a 1956 paper that satirized the anthropological study of world cultures that emphasized “otherness,” influencing generations of anthropologists and social scientists. Like Miner, Arcega approaches North Americans as a strange people whose practices and rituals must be studied and understood. Though a socio-political critique, Arcega’s work also has a playful element, providing familiar entry points to alternative ways of thinking about those who colonize the landscape.

During his time at Recology, the dump pile has served as an archaeological site for Arcega and his investigations. His residency work is informed by the study of nature as well as by culture, and his sculptures are suggestive of what one might find in a natural history museum. A life-size mastodon skeleton sculpture made from 2x4s calls attention to the animal’s relationship to early American history. The first complete skeleton was excavated from the Hudson River Valley in 1801 and was heralded by the founding fathers as emblematic of America’s dominance during a time of European belittlement of the fledgling country. Thomas Jefferson kept a mastodon jaw bone in his office when president, and instructed Lewis and Clark, as they left on their expedition, to bring back a living example of the beast, which was not yet understood to be extinct. Arcega’s work brings to light this little known part of nascent U.S. history, and provides space for contemplation about this story’s place within subsequent narratives of westward expansion and conquest, and the shaping of an American self-identity that continues today.

Arcega is an assistant professor of art at San Francisco State University. He received an MFA from Stanford University and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2012, he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been exhibited at the Asia Society in New York, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the Honolulu Academy of Art, and the Orange Country Museum of Art in Newport Beach.


Ma LiMa Li: Meet You at the Bird Bridge in the Milky Way
Ma Li uses non-traditional art media and discarded materials to create sculpture and installations. Her dream-like, large-scale, frequently suspended forms reference her Chinese heritage and often appear like temples, lanterns, or ceremonial architecture. But her titles for works, such as Retrofuture City and 633 Hours to Intergalactica!, in combination with her materials that include vividly-colored plastics, lights, and mylar, speak to the meeting of tradition and pop culture; the ordinary and the fantastic; and the hand-made and mass-produced.

While at Recology, Ma Li has created a living installation that attempts to connect her sculpture to the community, providing space for people to build relationships with materials, the environment, and each other. The work will happen in two parts. First, at Recology, where those attending the opening reception on Friday May 22 will participate in a choreographed performance at 7:30pm, and finally, at the Asian Art Museum on May 28 from 6:30-9pm, where the installation will be assembled.

The project was inspired by an interaction the artist had with a customer who, while dumping off materials, gave her a box. When she opened it, she found beautiful faux birds and flowers, and was reminded of the Chinese phrase, niăo yŭ huā xiāng (birds singing, flowers blooming), used to describe an auspicious spring day. With this gift, along with foam, plastic water bottles, window blinds, cardboard tubes, and other materials, Ma Li has created a magical version of an idyllic spring. Her work also connects to the Chinese story of the Cow Herder and the Weaver Maid, lovers separated by a river of stars created by the maid’s mother, the queen of the heavens. Small birds, so moved by the couple’s love, flew together forming a bridge over the celestial river, enabling the lovers to be reunited. Ma Li hopes participants in her project, like the birds, serve as agents of greater social and environmental connectivity.

Ma Li received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Shanghai Dong Hua University in China. In 2014, she was the recipient of a Pollack-Krasner Foundation Fellowship. She has also received a Murphy and Cadogan Contemporary Art Award and a Knight Foundation Grant. She has exhibited at SOMArts and Root Division in San Francisco, and has been an artist in residence at the Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina and the Vermont Studio Center.

Eden V. EvansEden V. Evans: Momento
In sculpture, installation, and textile works, Eden V. Evans addresses ideas of memory, and how our recollections of past experiences continue to shape our present selves. Working with the term momento, a variant spelling of memento, Evans has created artworks that explore specific moments in time and connect to her own experiences. Work is personal, yet universal, and speaks to issues of absence, loss and mortality, and the indelible marks these events leave on all of us. Says Evans, “because my most prominent memories are related to grief and loss, there is a tone of what used to be, but I’m often juxtaposing it with what is now.”

Ideas of marks—both literal and figurative—play out in a scavenged wicker love seat modified by Evans. She has accelerated the wear left by two people sitting side by side, and the resulting impressions act as visible evidence of a once enduring relationship. Another piece also employs chairs as signifiers of the passage of time. A wall installation of drawer fronts with handles recalls a memorial, but each drawer also suggests a tiny door or portal, or a secret hiding place.

Evans is currently completing her final semester at San Francisco State University and will receive her BA in May. She has exhibited her work at California State University Monterey Bay and San Francisco State University.


Reception-Friday, May 22, 5-9pm (with performance by Ma Li at 7:30pm)
Reception-Saturday, May 23, 1-3pm
Additional viewing hours-Tuesday, May 26, 5-7pm with gallery walk-through with artists at 6:30pm at 503 Tunnel Avenue


Art Studio, 503 Tunnel Avenue, and Environmental Learning Center, 401 Tunnel Avenue, San Francisco, CA

Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible.

About the Recology Artist in Residence Program
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind program established in 1990 to encourage the conservation of natural resources and instill a greater appreciation for the environment and art in children and adults. Artists work for four months in studio space on site, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public. Over one-hundred professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually, June through August.