Pro Arts is pleased to present The Beginning Was The End / New Work, a solo exhibition by Allison Leigh Holt. These two bodies of work feature video-sculptures, diagrams, a sound installation, and works in glass.

Holt’s work explores divergent ways of perceiving, comprehending, and interacting with our world. The Beginning Was The End emerges from her research in Central Java, Indonesia. For a year and a half, she focused on traditional Javanese cosmology, working with shamans and philosophy professors as a Fulbright Scholar. In Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, this way-of-knowing is endangered. Holt translated the interrelatedness of human cognition, natural systems, and spirituality embodied in this worldview into a series of diagrams on view in the gallery. These also serve as blueprints for her Hypercubes, a series of transparent resin sculptures activated by video mapped to their surfaces. They reveal delicate, powerful moving images, resulting in three-dimensional forms that convey higher-dimensional phenomena and concepts of time that differ from those of the West. Along with a sound installation, these works are designed to reveal the unseen phenomena present in the same time and space occupied by their viewers. Holt has lectured widely on this project, but it is being presented in full for the first time at Pro Arts.    

The pieces in New Work apply this research to the world within and without the gallery itself. Holt experiments with symmetry in physics—in which a physical property or process has an equivalence in two or more directions—using the reflective and refractive properties of glass and water to create a multitude of views of the space, and sometimes of the viewer. Her piece, True, constructs a true mirror, reflecting viewers as others see them; while a wall installation exaggerates the forms of native Bay Area lichen with water lenses, revealing them as living models of hyperbolic space. Holt’s work describes perspectives that propose radical shifts in cultural, anthropocentric, and Earth-based biases, at a time when human behavior determines our planet’s survival.

Listen to Holt’s recent interview with Gregory Scharpen on KLAX, HERE.


Allison Leigh Holt (b. 1972) is a cross-disciplinary artist based in Oakland, CA. Working at the intersection of sculpture, video, installation, and performance, she pursues a dialogue between divergent ways of experiencing, comprehending, and describing reality.

Holt has received awards from the U.S. Department of State (Fulbright Fellowship, Indonesia), Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the David Bermant Foundation, Cemeti Institute for Art + Society (Indonesia), the Experimental Television Center, Kala Art Institute, and the North Dakota Museum of Art. Her nominations include the SFMOMA SECA Award, the Eureka Fellowship, and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2015, ’16 finalist). She was a recent resident artist at Bullseye Resource Center and at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Her work has exhibited at SFMOMA, Stanford University, Anthology Film Archives (NYC), Cemeti Institute for Art + Society (Indonesia), the Boston Cyberarts Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque, Axiom Gallery (Boston), the Urban Screens Conference (Melbourne, AUS), and the Yogyakarta International New Media Festival. She has presented at cellsBUTTON(s) and Video Vortex conferences in Indonesia, the Cultural Studies Association Conference, the 20th Annual Science of Consciousness Conference, and Imagining the Universe: Cosmology in Art and Science at Stanford Arts Institute. At the University of North Dakota Writers Conference in 2016, she was in conversation with science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson and theoretical physicist Brian Greene.

Holt is the Vice President of San Francisco Cinematheque’s Board of Directors, and is a media art mentor to neurodivergent individuals. She studied at The Evergreen State College (BA) and Massachusetts College of Art (MFA).


OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, July 7, 6:00 – 9:00pm

ARTIST TALK: Sunday, July 23, 2:00 – 5:00pm

CLOSING RECEPTION: Friday, August 4, 6:00 – 8:00pm

The Beginning Was The End / New Work is funded in part by generous grants from Cemeti Institute for Art and Society, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – Fulbright Program, San Francisco Arts Commission the David Bermant Foundation,  Zellerbach Family Foundation and the Fleishhacker Foundation.