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Art, Community, and Liberation: A Recap of the Creative Container Residency

By CAST Communications

On the evening of February 24th, 2024, community members and art enthusiasts gathered to experience the conclusion of CAST’s latest program, Creative Container, an artist residency at the 447 Minna space for those whose work in community and moving culture forward can be further catalyzed by studio space.

Curated by Mattie Loyce, CAST’s inaugural artist-in-residence, the Creative Container residency culminated in an exhibition and artist talk between Loyce and the local San Francisco Bay Area-based artists who were part of Loyce’s residency project, Studio Talks, a series of artist interviews held in the artist studio or comfort/creative space. Studio Talks purposefully took place ‘in studio’ to highlight what types of spaces fostered each artists’ art practice, while honoring the journey and importance of finding their voice in practice.

Beginning in Winter 2023, Loyce was chosen as the sole recipient for this residency opportunity. As a curator, community advocate, and interdisciplinary artist who has dedicated her career to amplifying the voices of emerging artists and advancing critical conversations across disciplines, it was a natural instinct for Loyce to include more of her fellow artist peers into the dialogue. With a focus on curation and facilitation, she invited Bay Area artists Héctor Muñoz-Guzmán, Maya Fuji, and Yarrow Slaps to be a part of the experience

“Many people reflected like, ‘Wow, you created a residency within your residency!’, but that’s just kind of how it works for me…I like to bring other people into the fold,” Loyce remarked.

For their four-day “residency” experience, Muñoz-Guzmán, Fuji, and Slaps were charged with responding to the challenging prompt, “What does a future of liberation and abundance look like?” The artists delved into the profound implications of the question, immersing themselves in each other’s creative processes but also showcasing their unique perspectives and methodologies.

Héctor Muñoz-Guzmán’s final works from the Creative Container residency

Muñoz-Guzmán shared, “I immediately thought of my family and the generation that came before me and what they sacrificed to come to this country.” In his practice, he often incorporates images of his family in his work. For this project, he used photos of his uncles depicted as what they wanted to be in their dreams, with one as an artist, another as a singer, and the third as a baseball player. Another piece featured a photo of his sister and him when they were children.

“For me it’s really important to heal your inner child first before you start healing the community,” said Muñoz-Guzmán.

Maya Fuji’s final work from the Creative Container residency

Maya Fuji’s work explores themes around the experience of being an issei (first-generation Japanese) mixed-race woman in the United States and connecting to one’s cultural heritage in diaspora. For her piece, she pulled from the meaning of double belonging, which is when you are part of multiple religions at the same time. In the work, she paints the Buddhist and Shinto shrines that were in her grandmother’s home, replacing some of the figures with her own imagery and combining the two shrines into one imagined space.

Fuji explained, “I was thinking, what would it be like if we could all exist in harmony in one place and have these two identities together? How could that help us evolve as a community and support each other?”

Yarrow Slaps’ final works from the Creative Container residency

Slaps’ work centers around “deep dives into history and different peoples that have resisted and have had their voices drowned out.” The prompt pushed him to find answers by reaching out to his community.

“I had to go out and ask everyone I saw, ‘Do y’all got an answer to this? Do y’all know what this looks like?’” he said. The response Slaps received was to have “inner love” for others around you. The mixed media pieces he created highlight concerns that have affected his community, including 2018’s Proposition 10 ballot measurewhich expanded local government’s authority to enact rent control on residential property and did not passand the school-to-prison pipeline.

The Creative Container residency exhibition represented more than just a physical space; it embodied the spirit of community, innovation, and social transformation that is alive and well in the Bay Area. Through this residency, Loyce and the artists had the opportunity to forge connections and spark conversations that resonated far beyond the confines of CAST’s walls.

Reflecting on the outcome of the residency, Loyce commented,

“I’m grateful and proud that [the artists] were willing to take the challenge from me…I’m most proud of being able to hold this space and that everyone learned something new about their praxis and were able to open up a little bit and see something new in themselves.”

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