Curated by Ariana Faye Allensworth, Past Presence, the second of this year’s 2 x 2 exhibitions, presents new and recent work by Indira Allegra and Christopher R. Martin in response to the politicized trauma in Black contemporary life through the medium of weaving. 

For Past Presence, Allegra presents an iteration of Open Casket – an ongoing, immersive digital weaving installation – by combining abstract compositions with audio recordings of grief-stricken families who have lost loved ones to police violence. Within Open Casket, Allegra explores the structure of crepe, a textile historically associated with mourning and commonly used to line the interior of caskets. Both visceral and mournful, Open Casket is a reflection on digital mourning and the materiality of Black sadness and Black life.

Martin will present a series of large scale tapestries that depict objects and symbols of state violence, slave labor, and resistance stitched into cotton-based textiles. Aesthetically, Martin’s tapestries contain bold colors and graphics, similar to activist banners. Born and raised in the South, Martin draws inspiration from the legacy of cotton in his ancestral home and the fiber-working techniques that he learned from his mother, a seamstress. 

Past Presence explores the capacity of fiber and weaving to stand-in for the body when reflecting on trauma and racial oppression. By using overt visual tools, Allegra and Martin create a dual-narrative that interrogates the legacy of racism and traumatic violence in Black communities.



Indira Allegra is a recipient of the Windgate Craft Fellowship (2015), Oakland Individual Artist (2015) and Queer Cultural Center grants (2014). Her commissions include works for the SFMOMA, de Young Museum, The Wattis Institute, the City of Oakland and the National Queer Arts Festival. Her works have screened at festivals such as MIX NYC (2013), Perlen Hannover LGBT Festival (2010), Bologna Lesbian Film Festival (2010) and Outfest Fusion (2009). Allegra has completed residencies at The Banff Centre in Canada (2012), Takt in Berlin (2016) and Headlands Center for the Arts (2017) among others. She is a KQED ‘Woman to Watch’ and Artist in Residence at Djerassi Residence Arts Program.


Raised in the South, Christopher Martin graduated from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, a historically black university in 2014. Martin is currently based in San Francisco where he showcases his work in various galleries throughout the Bay Area. Martin predominately works with fiber materials, in addition to graphic design, photography and videography. His imagery speaks to the African Diaspora and the initial reason for black communities existence in America – to cultivate the growth of cotton. Martin  hand cuts and sews tapestry banners using cotton materials to acknowledge this history and to tell surreal stories of religion, slavery and freedom.



Ariana Faye Allensworth is a San Francisco-raised social worker, curator, and arts administrator. She is passionate about creating platforms for artists and communities most affected by injustice or who have historically been excluded from arts institutions as viewers and exhibitors. Her activism explores issues related to spatial and racial justice and the healing power of art making. Allensworth holds a master’s in Social Work from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Urban Studies and African & African-American Studies from Fordham University. She lives and organizes in Brooklyn and manages youth programs at the International Center of Photography.


Opening Reception: Friday, September 8, 2017, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

ABOUT 2 x 2:

2 x 2 is a series of two-person exhibitions featuring recent work from outstanding emerging artists based in the Bay Area. The program specifically supports the freedom to create challenging and non-commercial work.

2 x 2 is made possible, in part, through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and funded in part by generous grants from the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the Fleishhacker Foundation.