Studio Lab Curatorial Residency

The Studio Lab Curatorial Residency provides curators and cultural workers with research, development, production, and exhibition space and resources. Studio Lab Curatorial Residencies are highly flexible, and inclusive.

Currently, Studio Lab Curatorial Residencies are by invitation only.

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. Rochelle has 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 Review, Poets and Writers, Eleven Eleven, the East Bay Review, Callaloo, 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).

Larry Gipe’s activist art project is currently featured on PBS online, HERE.


Opening Reception: Friday, May 5, 6:00 – 9:00pm