Studio Lab Artist Residency

Pro Arts COMMONS residency provides artists, collectives, curators, cultural organizers, and fellow commoners working in diverse array of media and across genres, with co-creation, collaboration, and community resources in the creation of artistic and common knowledge that empowers the community above all.


Benj Gerdes: January 2020


Image: User Environments in the Interface City (detail), Fold-out map, Christian Friess and Benj Gerdes, 2019.


Mapping Friction in the Platform City

As cities increasingly become app-enabled play spaces for influencers and creatives, smoothed over by electric scooters, drone delivery, and the swiftness of cash-free living, what are the unseen structures support this transformation? What forms of production and everyday life are pushed to the less visible “peripheries,” and how do these “background” phenomena—logistics networks like sea-based shipping and e-commerce warehouses, data infrastructure like server farms and underwater cabling, and human migration by force or labor mobility—play a primary role in how value is produced and circulates today? What visual, material, ecological, and emotional spaces do such infrastructures inhabit in contemporary life? How do these transnational networks and flows manifest in daily life and how do they contribute to the gendered, raced, and classed social function of place? 


Benj Gerdes is an artist, writer, and organizer working in video, film, and related public formats, individually as well as collaboratively. He is interested in intersections of radical politics, knowledge production, and popular imagination. His work focuses on the affective and social consequences of economic and state regimes, investigating methods for art and cultural projects to contribute to social change. His projects emerge via multiple articulations from long-term research processes conducted in dialogue with activists, trade unionists, architects, urbanists, geographers, and archival researchers. Exhibitions and screenings include the Centre Pompidou, National Gallery of Art (U.S.), New Museum (U.S.), Rotterdam International Film Festival, and the Tate Modern. Publications include October, Public, The Journal of Aesthetics + Protest, Incite! and Rethinking Marxism. He currently leads a professor group and seminar on logistics and infrastructure at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, and is based in Sweden and New York City.

Chris Byrnes/ Julia Choucair Vizoso/ Dena Al-Adeeb  January 2020

Chris, Julia and Dena will work with the Pro Arts COMMONS team on preparing an Intellectual Property strategy for political art actions and engagements.

One iteration of the strategy will be to combine street protest with copyright-protected performance by protesters to further the goals of the protest. Through the residency, the group will organize workshops in January 2020 specifically around the implementation of the strategy: critically examining intellectual property and its role in art production, empowering protestors to use copyright as part of the protest, and putting the strategy into practice. 

Chris is interested in making art out of intellectual property itself, utilizing law, Art, and economic supply chains as new media for political action. He approaches intellectual property from the perspective of a patent lawyer, a student of liberation praxis, and an amateur folk artist. He lives in Manzanares el Real, Spain.

Julia is a writer, editor, translator, and political scientist. She is interested in building social alternatives for artistic and scholarly production premised on less alienated forms of creativity. She is from Beirut and lives in the mountains of Madrid.

Dena’s artwork takes on varied practices including video, installation, photography, sound, writing, participatory performance, and socially engaged projects. Her conceptual creative practices shed light on personal as well as collective narratives and experiences of displacement, memory and trauma. Concerned with dis/embodied experiences and the ways these resonate across fragmented encounters of time and space, her art practice foregrounds my personal and scholarly background. She is currently a University of California Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow.

Marc Herbst: February 2020

Marc Herbst’s engagement with the Artist in Residence Program at Pro Arts Gallery & COMMONS stems from his desire to collaboratively investigate and help instigate the COMMONS interest of Pro Arts, towards eco-social, non-fascist ends. His interests ultimately concern questions around general social reproduction- how we continue to commonly live together, in our most radical and open ways, through ecological/political change. He will explore these themes through a varieties of structured engagements: some play-based, some performance-based, others pairing text-oriented discourse and collective production. Currently based in Europe, but with a practice co-founded in California, he hopes his Oakland-based residency can serve as one bridge for situated discourses, practices, and knowledges. 
Marc is a co-founder of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, an interdisciplinary journal and weirdo collective founded in Los Angeles in 2001. ( He recently completed a PhD at Goldsmiths Centre for Cultural Studies in London with a study titled, A cultural policy for the multitude in the time of climate change; with an understanding that the multitude has no policy. Marc’s collective and individual efforts are also interdisciplinary (between engagements with the formal art world, DIY networks and relatively autonomous political projects) and he works between publishing, social practice and illustration. 
As a publisher/editor, he works with Aesthetics & Protest and also is recently collaborating with Minor Compositions/Autonomedia, Pluto Press and Canary Press. With the Aesthetics & Protest editorial collective, he is currently editing an issue working with anti-fascist and avant garde art collectives on situated practice outside of but in awareness of the mediating practices of political and cultural structures. He also helped publish recent books on precarious labor with the UK-based Precarious Workers Brigade, and (related to his PhD) a book on housing rights activism and transversal urban organizing by Ada Colau and Adria Alemany. As a writer, he is working on texts for Blade of Grass, Field Journal and also Dispatches Journal on his very mundane not-art-but-creative/salaried work with refugees in Leipzig, and NGBK/ADOCS where he is co-authoring with Michelle Teran a book based on situated, cosmopolitical and eco-social learning through the coming 99 years of climate based in the Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin. 
In special regard to the commoning project of Pro Arts, he recently co-edited and published the book, The Process of the Field in New Cross, which explores the internal documents of the London-based commons project organized through and around The Field. 


Kate Spacek

January – March, 2020 


I am an Artist; my medium is People.

Yes, i produce “art” across generally-accepted materials and forms, like paint on wood, improvised movement, phone photography, LED-infused costumes, pixelated silhouettes, interactive installations and performances… and once in awhile, these creations are revealed in official displays and exhibitions.

But my true love is co-creation, in the moment. 

What brings me the widest smiles is designing and facilitating co-creative experiences that foster belonging, creative agency, and co-ownership. Each experience connects people, sparks new ideas, instigates meaningful dialogue, and stretches what is possible.

I find fuel in the challenge of curating the parameters of something meant to be expanded by the collective imagination. How can i design an experience in which anyone can engage? How do i define the process and select the materials for someone to add an invented input to the mix? It’s a game for me – finding the balance between maintaining aesthetic and thematic quality, and offering creative control to humans i’ve never met. Ideally, these humans can interact at multiple levels, based on their own curiosities and desires. They can observe and absorb, or they can contribute their own visions to the dynamic construction of the collaborative work. Through this passive or active participation, my hope is that these humans rejuvenate a sense of connectedness to their artist within and also to the surrounding world.

Almost all my projects explore a particular social theme or challenge. The heaviness of the theme, though, is offset by the playfulness i infuse into the creative process. i believe by using our innately human needs for art, movement, and play as lubrication, we become more willing to open to one another, to listen with objective curiosity, to acknowledge differences as valuable, and to feel into the oneness of humanity. These are big ideas, i know – but real experience has taught me that i’m on the right track.

We all long to belong. When diversity co-creates, Belonging is birthed – one creative interaction at a time. Sparking these interactions is how i belong.


Kate Spacek is fueled by People and Possibility. She designs and facilitates co-creative experiences that foster belonging, agency, and ownership. Diverse groups of humans make something together, tangible or otherwise – and open to one another in the process. The secret sauce always includes art, movement, and/or play, and transforms “non-artists” to connected creators. 


Kate’s former life includes two decades of business operations and strategy with proficiencies in personal development and group facilitation. This rare blend adds structure and sustainability to her arts-based programs and actions. She has co-produced interactive art-centric events for Red Bull, General Electric, City of Oakland,, Autodesk, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and others. As Director of American Arts Incubator at ZERO1, Kate bridged program artists, overseas partners, participants, and the U.S. State Department to explore social challenges via 65 community-driven creative projects in 13 countries. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR), Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and various television, radio, and print media outlets around the world.

Paulina Borsook: Digital Residency

April 2019 – ongoing 

Paulina Borsook has shared her fiction, essays, humor pieces, and journalism through Wired, Newsweek, Mother Jones, The New York Times, Architectural Record, San Francisco, Salon, Suck, and Feed, and is the author of the acutely insightful Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High Tech (PublicAffairs, 2000). Borsook has been variously described as “The grande dame of digital culture” (UK Independent), “a bohemian intellectual displaced into the world of Silicon Valley high tech” (Worth Magazine), and as someone who has made “a fine career out of challenging, rebutting, baiting and vexing the conspicuously libertarian technology community (Salon Magazine).

For the last few years, Borsook has been developing My Life As A Ghost, a multi-disciplinary art project on traumatic brain injury. As part of this project, she was Researcher in Residence at Stanford Art Institute in 2013, where she researched ‘the psychoneurological consequences of traumatic brain injuries, drawing from her own experiences and interviews with other individuals living with TBI.’ In 2011 she was awarded first place in the SF Chronicle’s Chronicles of the Bay. Borsook has orchestrated street theater and townhalls; produced and performed in works-in-progress events; helped run a concert series; has an undergraduate degree in psycholinguistics with a minor in philosophy from UC Berkeley; and a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University.


Jessica Feldman

January  – April, 2018

Jessica Feldman, Flight from NYC to Porto, 2016, video still from Hold Up Half the Sky.


Harlem Police Violence Protest, 2015, video still from Hold Up Half the Sky.

Pro Arts’ Studio Lab Artist in Residency program welcomes Jessica Feldman as our first artist in residence in 2018. Jessica Feldman is an artist working mainly with sound and digital media. Her works include sculptures, performances, installations, videos, and compositions. Many of her pieces are interactive, and deal with the relationships among the body, new digital and network technologies, and the intimate psychological and communal social dynamics enabled by these tools. Pieces have been performed, installed and exhibited internationally at art galleries, museums, concert halls, public parks, city streets, tiny closets, boats, the New York City subways, and the internet. Recent venues include Socrates Sculpture Park, LMAKProjects, Roulette, The Stone, Maison Jandelle, The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, White Box, The Kitchen, and many outdoor, public sites. She has received commissions, residencies, and grants from New York State Council on the Arts, NewHive, the LMCC, and Meet the Composer, among others.  She has taught sound art and media studies at The New School, Temple University, and NYU. She received an MFA in Intermedia Art from Bard, an MA in Experimental Music from Wesleyan, and a PhD in Media, Culture, and Communication from NYU. She is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University.

While in residency at Studio Lab at Pro Arts, Jessica will work on Hold Up Half the Sky – a video and sound installation, made from field recordings and videos, gathered while walking in rallies/protests in a handful of international cities from 2014-2017. The piece consists of video footage of the sky, captured from above, while flying, and from below, while walking, shot by holding a cell phone camera overhead, with corresponding audio. The installation will contrast the raucous, human, emotional sounds of protest with visuals of the slow, ephemeral, drifting clouds and changing light. Temporalities and spatialities are juxtaposed in the piece: focused, immediate, human strife – both specific to a location and endemic of globalization; the tiny scale and portability of the mobile phone; the wide-reaching connectivity it proposes; the earth’s continual rotation; the pavement; the sky; the specificity of languages; the universality of chants; walking and lingering in the streets; flying across time zones and borders. While the visuals of the videos from these sites are similar, the audio reveals the experience of living under specific skies in specific moments. The video installation will be controlled via hacked smartphones, so that viewers can touch the tiny bits of circuitry that are responsible for playback, attempting to use their hands to control large scale projections of the sky. The project speaks to issues of scale and globalization, the specificity of site, and the production process of smartphones, bringing a sense of materiality and embodiment to the capacities of the technologies. The hardware of the devices – made mostly by women in factories in the Far East, hired in part because of the smallness of their hands – is used to control the vastness of the worldview imagined by the technologies. Hold Up Half the Sky takes its name from the famous saying (attributed to Mao Zedong) that “women hold up half the sky.” The piece attempts to put together a patchwork of conflict, protest, and boundaries, while drawing attention the perspectives of those below the sites of power and consumption.

Artist Statement

I make sound installations, sculptures, performances, videos, and compositions, which consider how new and emerging media can touch, constrict, or move the subject, and how this connects to political possibilities. Many of my large-scale projects have been site-specific installations in public, urban space, using systems and media that manipulate but do not touch the body: prison architectures, acoustic weaponry, video surveillance tools. Such issues concern a wide audience and I prefer to site them in accessible, non-commercial spaces, bringing up questions about the ways in which the public sphere is shaped through these media. My work has shifted over recent years from a critique of these media, towards an interest in creating objects and spaces that offer possibilities for new or different modes of listening, sociality, and interaction. Sculptures and installations, as well as net projects, seek to reimagine the sensual body and habits of listening as they relate to (the longing for) connection and co-presence. Particularly in my interactive installations, I care a lot about directing systems and objects of privatization, capture, and surveillance (walls, cameras, recordings, money) towards poetics of intimacy and community normally foreclosed. A project will turn a wall into a transmitter, collapse a surveillance tower to make a place for gathering, or masquerade as clickbait to navigate towards the voices of incarcerated people. I see this redirection as a political gesture, which facilitates intimacy and recognition between political subjects who might not normally consider each other.

Jessica Feldman, Projecting, 2007, installation with two-way mirror, video & audio loop, floodlight, mixed media.

Jessica Feldman, Projecting, 2007, installation with two-way mirror, video & audio loop, floodlight, mixed media.


Victoria Heilweil & Mobile Arts Platform (Peter Foucault +Chris Treggiari) 

September 1 – September 30, 2017

Mobile Arts Platform (MAP), artist and educator Victoria Mara Heilweil, and The Center For Investigative Reporting (CIR) have joined forces to produce Community Sourced, a pop-up variety show across neighborhoods in Oakland.

Using a custom set built on a portable flatbed trailer as a mobile public stage, MAP and Heilweil are working with four regions in Oakland that will serve as the sites for each episode. The events will be filmed by collaborating artist Bryan Hewitt, live-streamed and preserved through video and custom zines. The goal of this project is to share and celebrate the people and stories that can be found within a few blocks of each other, spark connections, and address the issues that are pertinent to residents.


The Mobile Arts Platform (MAP) is a Bay Area artmaking and curatorial team founded in 2009 by Peter Foucualt and Chris Treggiari with the goal of creating mobile exhibition structures that engage the public. MAP creates an autonomous exhibition space, an artistic research lab where a cross pollination of mediums and genres can occur, be accessible to the public, and create strong bonds with partner communities. MAP events include video screenings, visual art installations, performance art, live music, interactive artworks, and culinary art. The collaborative duo build temporary, creative microcosms where community and creativity can intersect and flourish.

Victoria Mara Heilweil is a nationally exhibited fine art photographer. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the de Young Museum, San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art, Intersection for the Arts, Southern Exposure, California Academy of Sciences, Art Works Downtown, PHOTO Fine Art and Rayko Photo Gallery in the Bay Area. She has also created public and community based art works in conjunction with the ZERO1 Biennial in San Jose, CA and the Bayview Opera House in San Francisco, CA. In 2014, Heiweil was awarded a grant from the Puffin Foundation. In addition to her exhibition history, for the past 18 years Victoria has taught photography and design classes at colleges including San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts, City College of San Francisco, Art Center College of Design and California State University, Fullerton. Heiweil received a Masters in Photography from California College of the Arts, and is a mom to a funny and inquisitive daughter.

Allison Leigh Holt: New Media 

June 1 – July 30, 2017

Image: Allison Leigh Holt, Strange Loop No. 4, 2016, scientific glass, rare earth magnets, mirrors, 4 x 8 x 8 in.

New media and video artist, Allison Leigh Holt will join the Studio Lab Artist Residency this June in preparation for her solo exhibition , The Beginning Was The End and Glass System at Pro Arts in July.

During her residency, Allison will be finalizing her production of video sculptures, as well as creating a site-specific glass lenses installation.


Working at the intersection of sculpture, video, installation, and performance, Allison Leigh Holt pursues a dialogue between divergent ways of experiencing, comprehending, and describing reality. During her residency, Holt will be preparing for her solo exhibition, The Beginning Was The End and The Glass System, which opens Friday, July 7, 2017 from 6:00 – 9:00pm.

Holt has received numerous awards from institutions including the U.S. Department of State (Fulbright Fellowship, Indonesia), Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the David Bermant Foundation, Cemeti Art House (Indonesia), the Experimental Television Center, and the North Dakota Museum of Art. She is a 2016 finalist for a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, and is a current Eureka Fellowship nominee.

Her work has exhibited internationally, notably at SFMOMA, Stanford University, Anthology Film Archives (NYC), Cemeti Art House (Indonesia), the Boston Cyberarts Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque, Axiom Gallery for New and Experimental Media (Boston), the Urban Screens Conference (Melbourne), and the Yogyakarta International New Media Festival.

Ellen Shershow: Photography

May 1 – June 20, 2017

Ellen Shershow will join the Studio Lab Artist Residency Program as our first portrait photographer. While in residence, Ellen will be producing a new body of work and shooting dog portraits on site at Pro Arts.


Ellen Shershow’s inspiration comes from a wide range of places, including but not limited to Vogue magazine, People magazine,  reality TV, John Szarkowski, Joan Rivers, Dolly Parton, Steve Martin, Diane Arbus, Mad MenBreakfast at Tiffany’sBest In Show, Woody Allen and Golden Gate Park at dawn. Ellen draws her color pallet from Dutch Renaissance painters, Gerard Dou, Rogier Van Der Weyden and Johannes Vermeer.

Most of all, she is inspired by the Dog.

The dog is slobbery and kooky and soulful and precious. Next to Steve Martin, Jennifer Coolidge and Sarah Silverman, they are the funniest creatures in the world. We are enthralled by them, the gentle gaze, the unconditional love, the stories of dog as hero. Photographing senior dogs, dogs who are blind or deaf or hurting, is indeed close to Ellen’s heart.

She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Krista DeNio: Interdisciplinary choreographer, director, performer, writer and educator

February 3 – March 31, 2017

During this residency, Krista DeNio will further several threads of ​her current research into human​ and plant​ survival.​ The work will include researching mechanisms of plant communication and survival in relationship with human systems of communication and survival. Krista’s residency lead up to her culminating performance with collaborator Stephanie Mount titled “BOUND” on Friday, March 17, 2017.

Her additional continued research includes interviews and dialogue with formerly incarcerated individuals to uncover personal experiences of the human mind-body complex surviving confinement. This research is part of several upcoming projects, including NETWORK a seed project, to premiere at U.C. Berkeley’s Berkeley Dance Project, which will bring together plant and human survival issues including incarceration; and BOUND, a current collaboration with actor/ creator Stephanie DeMott, exploring stories of women suffering and surviving systemic oppressions, from incarceration to sexism, racism and the underlying patriarchy.

​DeNio & DeMott researched the physical work of BOUND, a piece created and performed recently at TEATRAL, an international theater festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The research includes working within the physical limitation of a space the size of a typical prison cell, 6’x8′.​ Various materials will be used to create these cell spaces. Working with stories from formerly incarcerated collaborators, and female historical archetypes, we will explore methods of literal, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual survival methods they created/designed while in the confinement of systemic oppression.


Krista DeNio is an interdisciplinary choreographer, director, performer, writer and educator, committed to developing new forms of performance work and evolving interdisciplinary thinking and creation between the fields of dance and theater, among others. Her work, as Artistic Director of KD/MovingGround, investigates the interrelationship between impactful socio-political issues and our intimate personal lives. Current projects include: EchoTheaterSuitcase project, bringing together mixed ensembles of military veterans and civilian non-veterans, to create original, site-specific, audience interactive performance work based on the stories of each unique ensemble. The project’s most recent iteration, STAND GROUND, featuring an all female ensemble of veterans and non-veteran theater artists, was co-produced with CounterPulse, in Fall 2016, where Krista is also a “House Artist” and has been a two-time Artist-in-Residence.


Stephanie DeMott is an actor, mover, and teacher. She graduated summa cum laude from San Francisco State with a B.A. in Theater Arts and Creative Writing, and received her M.F.A from the American Conservatory Theater. She has performed with A.C.T., Magic Theatre, TheatreFirst, Word For Word, and Mugwumpin, among others. Favorite roles include May in Fool For Love, Orlando in Sarah Ruhl’s play of the same name, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, and Emma in The Great Big Also. She is a company member of Mugwumpin, a performance ensemble company based in San Francisco. In the summer of 2014, Stephanie went to Burning Man as a devised theater instructor for CIIS to facilitate the making of theater under extreme conditions. In November of 2015, she participated in the first incarnation of Groundswell, an immersive theater intensive in San Miguel de Allende, conceived by Jon Tracy and Taylor Korobow. She’s in an ongoing collaboration with the University of Chichester’s Dr. Louie Jenkins.

Lasse Lau & Flo Maak: Visual Art & Performance 

January 9 – February 6, 2017

During their residency in January of 2017 leading up to their installation, “Technologies of the Kitchen”, Lau and Maak will conduct weekly programs including artist talks, performances, lectures and various performance-based programs to connect with local Bay Area community organizations. Their residency at Pro Arts introduced the project to new artists, activists, queer and other communities throughout the Bay Area to enrich their research and cross-disciplinary approach.


Flo Maak (b. 1980, Fulda, Germany) attended HfbK Staedelschule (2001- 2009), majoring in Fine Art. He also studied Visual Arts at Cooper Union (2007) in New York City. Selected solo exhibitions include “Nichts tun wie ein Biest” at Bielefelder Kunstverein (2009), “Trompe-l’eil Polizei” in cooperation with Free Class Frankfurt at Frankfurter Kunstverein (2008), “soft skills” at haus nummer 11 in Frankfurt (2007), “silent specters” at JET in Berlin (2006), and “Untitled” at Nomaden Oase in Hamburg. Selected group exhibitions include “I Animal! (You Human)” at Perla Mode in Zurich (2010), “Lyst” at Overgaden in Copenhagen (2009), “Dear Anus” at VBKO in Vienna (2008), and “Werkbund e. V.” at Hessische Landesvertretung in Berlin.

Lasse Lau (b. 1974, Sønderborg, Denmark) is a filmmaker and performance artist who currently lives and works in New York. His films and performances deal with socio-economic issues, the negotiation of conflicts and the notion of space through the language of film and performance. Lau seeks to utilize aesthetics as a framework that can open dialogical paths. He has exhibited in a wide range of museums and galleries including Westfälischer Kunstverein (Münster, Germany), Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin, Germany), Aarhus Art Museum (Aarhus, Denmark), Brandts Klædefabrik (Odense, Denmark), Museum of Contemporary Art (Zagreb, Croatia), the Turin Biennial of Contemporary Art (Turin, Italy), Contemporary Museum (Baltimore, USA) and MoMA PS1 (New York, USA). Lau is the co-founder and long time board member of Kran Film Collective and was a member of the Editorial Selection Board at The Danish Film Institute Video Workshop 2001-02. He studied at the Media Art Department at Funen Art Academy (Odense, Denmark), at the Hochschule der Künste (Berlin, Germany) and at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (New York, USA).

*Flo Maak and Lasse Lau’s Residency and Exhibition at Pro Arts is made possible with a generous grant by the Danish Arts Foundation (DK).

Mugwumpin: Experimental Theatre

July 5 – August 31, 2016

Mugwumpin was selected for the Studio Lab Residency, taking over Pro Arts Gallery throughout the summer of 2016. Mugwumpin used the time and space to offer four free public events, including the latest iteration of Luster. For this performance, Mugwumpin joined forces with an acclaimed photographer to bring participants visions of lush beauty to life. It starts with a conversation between the participant and a Mugwumpin artist. Together, they delved into their appetite for the ravishing and sublime. The artist then immediately transformed the participant’s ideas into costume and performance. This is a performative manifestation of their beautiful ideal, but amped up: more splendid, more plush, more saturated. Participants then went home with a photographic portrait and their Mugwumpin artist.

Performed by: Madeline H.D. Brown, Stephanie DeMott, Natalie Greene, Ryan Marchand, Soren Shane Santos

Mugwumpin is an award-winning San Francisco theater and performance company, part of a wave of young American companies who are expanding the art form by questioning the primacy of text and narrative in theater and playfully transgressing received notions of the audience-performer relationship. Since its founding, Mugwumpin has created 13 evening-length productions and many smaller performances, all of which premiered in the Bay Area. The company’s first show, Rabbit Causes Dog, was named Best Play at the 2004 SF Fringe Festival. In 2008, Mugwumpin thrilled international audiences at the Cairo International Festival of Experimental Theatre with its original work Super:Anti:Reluctant.

In 2010, This Is All I Need played to packed houses and universal critical acclaim in San Francisco. It was named Best Play by both SF Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian before embarking upon a successful European tour in 2011. And their most recent productions, Future Motive Power and The Great Big Also, reaped sold-out houses and critical praise for their “provocative images and ideas” and their “urgent call for us to question our ideals and associations and to cultivate that other, neglected American quality: staunch individualism” (Lily Janiak, HowlRound).

Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh: Visual Art

March 11 – May 15, 2016

Oni-Eseleh is an Oakland-based visual artist who has been working for the past couple of years on images that document the shifting urban landscape and evoke the different meanings of  “home”.

A central component of this work has been the idea of the fallacy of memory when referencing the past and the distortion of stories told in repetition. Her residency work will include that photographs reconstructing miniature worlds and incomplete narratives.


Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh is an Oakland, CA based visual artist whose current work is focused primarily on the shifting urban landscape. An avid observer and prolific photographer, she employs a vast catalog of visual notes and memories to create her work. A lover of materials and process, Dawline-Jane uses a range of media including relief print making, pen and ink, photo transfer and encaustic

Ellie Lobovitz & Leora Fridman

August 15 – September 15, 2017

During their residency, collaborators Ellie Lobovits and Leora Fridman will develop their three-part series, Let’s Talk, as part of Pro Arts’ Hybrid Series.

This conversation series will explore and amplify collaboration through a feminist lens. Each event will feature a conversation between two feminist / female-identified artists who work collaboratively or whose work is in dialogue. This hybrid project will engage creators from disparate art forms – poets with photographers, filmmakers with painters, dancers with theorists.

Each conversation will be a live collaborative work, as well as an honest discussion about the resources and challenges that arise in collaboration. The dialoguing pair may choose to show their own work, but all will prioritize their work and ideas in conversation, the primary collaborative act, in real time and in public.


Leora Fridman is an writer, organizer and educator who works at the intersections of creative work and community care. Leora is the author of My Fault (Cleveland State University Press, 2016) in addition to five chapbooks, and is currently at work on a book of nonfiction. Her poems, prose and translations appear or are forthcoming in Tricycle Magazine, Denver Quarterly, jubilat and jacket2. Leora holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst MFA Program for Poets and Writers and from Brown University, and has taught in universities, homes and community organizations across the country. She is a recipient of multiple grants and honors including a 2015 Vermont Studio Center fellowship, grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, and a Dorot Fellowship. She collaborates widely with artists and organizations, and co-edits Spoke Too Soon: A Journal of the Longer.

Ellie Lobovits is an activist filmmaker and anthropologist.  Her work is one part art, one part social activism, one part cultural theory, and a million parts hybrid. Ellie’s research, writing, and filmmaking focuses on borderlands, the body, and feminist theory. Ellie is also a photographer, farmer, and childbirth doula, and currently studies Visual Anthropology at San Francisco State University.


Thursday, September 14, 7 – 9pm

Thursday, October 19, 7 – 9pm

Thursday, November 16, 7 – 9pm

Xavier Robles 

May 9 – June 25, 2017

Xavier Robles joins the Studio Lab Curatorial Residency as one of the 2 x 2 curators. During his residency, he will be conducting studio visits with 2 x 2 nominated artists and selecting the two final artists who will exhibit their work at Pro Arts this August.

As an emerging curator, Xavier questions, how do artists react through art to their background whether being an immigrant, a person of color, queer, woman…part of a marginalized group of people?  And how does their art seep viscerally into a space like a gallery? With ideas on being territorial and invasive, his goal is to curate a show that engages conversations relating to migration, taking up space, representation, geographic pollution, and queerness.


Xavier Robles is a Mexican born curator, visual artist, and educator who grew up in Santa Ana, California where he initiated a youth art program at Grand Central Art Center (2015). As the Coordinator of Public Programs he created programming and developed curriculum addressing contemporary art forms by artist of color as a tool for youth empowerment. He is currently the curatorial intern art Southern Exposure where he works closely with the curatorial committee and Exhibitions and Projects Program Director. He is also an Artist in Education at Southern Exposure where he works one-on-one with youth to expand their craft. He is founder of Paleta Zine (2015) an ongoing self published curatorial zine that creates a space of expression and documentation for queer bois of color. A given platform that often lacks within the larger arts conversations. His practice as a curator seeks to challenge and address the concept of “invasion” through a range of art forms that subvert to embrace the term as way to take space. He holds a B.A in Architectural Studies from Hampshire College and currently resides in Oakland, California.

This program is made possible, in part, through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 


Ariana Faye Allensworth 

May 23 – June 27, 2017

Ariana Faye Allensworth joins the Studio Lab Curatorial Residency as one of the 2 x 2 curators. During her residency, she will be conducting studio visits with 2 x 2 nominated artists and selecting the two final artists who will exhibit their work at Pro Arts this September.

Ariana is a multiracial artist, social worker, and emerging curator from San Francisco. Her praxis centers the restorative and liberatory properties of arts, culture, and storytelling. Her approach to curating is informed by her experience in the arts education and social justice arena. As an activist, she sees the capacity of arts spaces to activate ideas and people around critical issues in ways that traditional modes of activism do not.


Ariana Faye Allensworth is a 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.

Ariana 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 San Francisco and manages programs at Youth Speaks.

This program is made possible, in part, through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 



Mike Dadonna – Danger to the System

April – September 2017

“Danger to The System” focuses on events highlighting artists of color, queer, and other marginalized intersections of artists whose work deals with time, space, histories, new media, cultural diaspora, erasure, patriarchy, white supremacy, the internet, recorded and performed sound works, live performance, and the intersectionality of histories, cultural trauma, healing strategies and the ever changing radical climate in America, 2016, as well as specifically Oakland, CA. “Danger to The System” harbors three components; LIVE PERFORMANCES, POPUP EXHIBITIONS, and ARTIST TAKE AWAYS / ARTIST EDITIONS.

Mike Dadonna has been a part of the Oakland underground noise/industrial community for 10 years, indefatigably curating and producing concerts and multi-media events at alternative spaces and clubs, promoting and releasing records and tapes by local and national musicians on his Ratskin label, as well as performing music in groups  and solo under a variety of aliases. Mike is also a graphic designer, photographer, and media artist. Dadonna also co-produces a regular monthly industrial-influenced club night, Voltage Drop, at the Legionnaire Saloon.

Chris Wood

May – September 2017

Wood is producing a 5 part performance series featuring local artists in a variety of disciplines, with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration. Featured artists will include Nathalie Brilliant (social practice/installation), Alexander Brown (movement/dance), Brenda Hutchinson (music), Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir (music/media art), and others.

Chris Wood moved to Oakland from Chicago two years ago to attend Mills College for graduate school.  In Chicago, he co-founded and curates events for Mocrep, a Chicago-based ensemble dedicated to the performance of radical, 21st century music that engages with contemporary culture – aesthetically, socially, and politically.

This program is made possible, in part, through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 


Rochelle Spencer, Audrey T. Williams & The Afro Surrealist Writers Workshop

March 7 – April 28, 2017

Rochelle Spencer is our current Studio Lab Curator in residence. During her residency, she is working with Audrey T. Williams and the AfroSurereal Writers Workshop to organize the Eco Arts Reading Festival and the group exhibition, Let’s Play, which opens on Friday, June 2, 2017.

Let’s Play celebrates fun as a revolutionary event. Curated by Rochelle Spencer and Audrey T. Williams, this group exhibition pairs the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop with local artists and Oakland residents to examine how play intersects with urban life. The aim of this exhibition is to demonstrate how play can disrupt conventional ways of thinking and serve as a form of rebellion.


Rochelle Spencer is founder of the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop and co-editor of All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women Writers of Color (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2014), which has been named a “must-read” feminist book of 2014 by Ms.Magazine. Rochellehas received fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center and the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, and her work appears in a variety of publications, including the African American ReviewPoets and Writers, Eleven Eleven, the East Bay ReviewCallaloo, the Carbon Culture Review, the LA Review, and Mosaic. Rochelle is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a former board member of the Hurston Wright Foundation.


Lawrence Gipe 

March 3 – March 25, 2017

During his residency, Lawerence Gipe conducted studio visits and research in perpetration for the upcoming exhibition, Everyone is Hypnotized: Artists Dérive the Bay Area, which opens on Friday, May 5th.

Gipe’s residency aligns with Pro Arts’ yearlong programming dissecting the Situationist International movement and its influence today. In the role of curator-organizers during his residency, Gipe posed the question: What tactics and templates for action can artists use, to engage intellectual investigation, creative growth, and critical interrogation?


Lawrence Gipe’s practice addresses themes of power and the visual propaganda produced by authoritarian political systems, historic and present-day. Gipe’s work encompasses painting, drawing, video, collaborative installations and curatorial projects. He has had 55 solo exhibitions in US galleries and museums in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Boston, Munich, Berlin, Düsseldorf. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Studio Art at the University of Arizona.

Gipe has received two NEA Individual Fellowship Grants (Painting, 1989 and Works on Paper, 1996). A mid-career survey, “3 Five-Year Plans: Lawrence Gipe, 1990-2005,” was organized in 2006 by Marilyn Zeitlin at the Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona. Lately, Gipe has concentrated on drawing as a primary medium, and had three solo shows in 2015, including “Where We Were, and How We Got There” at Lora Schlesinger Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, which featured a 50-ft. graphite mural drawing. His last solo exhibition in New York was at Alexander Grey Associates (2007).

Gipe is currently an art correspondent for, a blog covering the Northern California scene. His art criticism has been published in FlashArt (reviews), L.A.Weekly (Reviews and essays), the Santa Barbara Independent (Essays and cover stories on art themes), and Artscribe (along with scores of others now extinct).