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Art+Process+Ideas: Craig Calderwood and Christy Chan

Not on view
6/25/2022 - 8/21/2022
Organizing institution: Mills College Art Museum

The 2022 Art+Process+Ideas (A+P+I) Exhibition, on view from June 25 – August 21, 2022, features new work from artists Craig Calderwood and Christy Chan, whose original 2020 residency was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each artist embraces creative risk and complexity around issues of identity. Craig Calderwood uses commercial craft materials—fabric paint, polymer clay, and found fabrics—to create intricate decorative works that speak to queer and trans communities through a shared language of symbols and patterns. Recalling the private languages that underground communities of queer and trans people used for safety for decades, Calderwood develops these images through research into history, personal narratives, and pop cultural moments. Her project, The Light Bulb Sound, shares elements of her creative process, including preliminary drawings and notes, alongside finished paintings. The exhibition shares the push and pull of failure and the transformative process that each piece goes through.

Christy Chan is an interdisciplinary artist who works in video, narrative filmmaking, installation, storytelling, and community organizing to create participatory platforms for dialogue around race, class, and social justice issues, and to foster opportunities for self-representation by communities of color. Chan’s project, Patterns, invites the public to examine America’s intergenerational privilege and culture of gaslighting when confronting racial and social inequities. Chan has decolonized an 1890s fainting couch and transformed it into a touchable art and conversation piece. She asks, who gets to be fragile and who has to be strong? The title Patterns refers to both the physical elements of the work and the context of critiquing patterns of white complicity in the United States.

Launched in 2015, the A+P+I artist-in-residence program is a partnership between the Art and Visual Culture Department and Mills College Art Museum that fosters interdisciplinary collaboration across departments and supports Bay Area artists making socially relevant work that challenges and inspires Mills students and MCAM audiences.

The 2022 Art+Process+Ideas Artist Residency is supported through the generosity of the Agnes Cowles Bourne Fund for Special Exhibitions.


A self-taught artist, Craig Calderwood’s intricate and decorative works are rendered through a personal vernacular of symbols and patterns. Recalling the private languages that underground communities of queer and trans people used for safety for decades, Calderwood develops these patterns and symbols though research into history, personal narratives, and pop cultural moments. They then arrange them into constellations to tell stories both personal and fantasized. Utilizing low-end materials like fabric paint, polymer clay, found fabrics and fibre tip pens, Calderwood explores ideas around desire, biodiversity, and otherness. They also look at how material practice forms its own language for safe and coded communication within hostile environments. Flexing the intended use of their mediums, Calderwood’s work moves through the material ideologies of painting, drawing, and textile, to form images whose lines and textures teeter between thread and paint, blurring not just the binaries of their materials, but of their subjects.

Christy Chan is an interdisciplinary artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, working primarily in video, installation, performance and public art. Her large-scale public art projects seek to foster opportunities for self-representation by communities of color, with the belief that storytelling is a form of narrative justice and narrative justice is a form of social justice. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Southern Exposure, YBCA, and SOMArts in San Francisco; the New York Arts Foundation and Ortega y Gasset in New York; Film Independent in Los Angeles; and on NPR and PBS, among other institutions. Chan is the creator of Dear America, a mobile guerrilla public art project that projects the works of AAPI artists on high rise buildings throughout the Bay Area without permission. She has been awarded support or residencies from SFFILM, the California Arts Council, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Kala Art Institute, Montalvo Arts Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, Berkeley Film Foundation and other institutions. She is working on the feature film project Pen Pals which has been featured on NPR’s Snap Judgement and The New York Times and tells the story of Shelly, an 8-year-old girl who writes idealistic letters to the Ku Klux Klan after the Klan targets her family. Based on real-life events, Pen Pals draws on Chan's experience growing up in a Southern town with a white nativism movement, an experience that continues to inform her ongoing explorations of race, power, and what it means to be an American. She holds an M.A. in Communication Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University. Chan is a current A+P+I Artist in Residence at Mills College Art Museum and a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow.


Saturday, July 9, 2022
Opening Reception
5:00-7:00 PM | Art Museum

Saturday, July 16, 2022
Exhibition Walkthrough with Craig Calderwood
2:00-3:00 PM | Art Museum

Join Craig Calderwood for a walkthrough of her exhibition, The Light Bulb Sound, and take home a risograph print designed by the Artist.

Saturday, August 6, 2022
Fainting Couch: A Contact Improv Dance Performance
3:00-4:30 PM | Art Museum

A collaborative work by UNA Productions and Christy Chan. Join Christy Chan for a walkthrough of her exhibition, Patterns, followed by a contact improv dance performance by members of UNA Productions dance company in response to Chan’s Fainting Couch. Light reception to follow. Founded in 2013 by Artistic Director and Choreographer Chuck Wilt, UNA Productions is a dance production company focused on creating, teaching, and performing internationally. UNA's mission is to discover and communicate deeply rooted embodiments of human existence through physically powerful dancing and imagery that are evocative and colorful. UNA celebrates individuality and is dedicated to bringing vibrancy and joy to the world.

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