California-based artists Jessica Sabogal and Shanna Strauss arrive at Pyramid the first week in August to create a collaborative print in its screenprinting studio and printshop through the new Denbo Publishing Residency program at Pyramid.
The new print will be released on August 25th at the exhibition opening of SANA(A), where Jessica and Shanna debut not only the new work but also their six-year collaboration as life partners and artistic duo. Together, they meticulously hand-print their individual and collaborative works on paper, encompassing an array of techniques, including photopolymer gravure, screenprint, and relief printmaking.
The public opening for SANA(A)takes place on Friday, August 25th from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm (free, RSVP required). The exhibition runs through September 24, 2023 in Pyramid’s Helen C. Frederick Gallery. Gallery hours are Wed–Thu, 10–8 pm and Fri–Sun, 10–6 pm. Pyramid is located at 4318 Gallatin Street, Hyattsville Maryland 20781. For more information and an RSVP link, visit pyramidatlantic.org or call 301-608-9101.
Jessica and Shanna’s residency marks the return of this type of publishing program after a near 20-year hiatus. When thinking of whom Pyramid wanted to invite to this program that has a legacy of working with artists such as Hung Liu and William Christenberry, the nominating committee created a short list of artists around the country who would be exciting additions to Pyramid’s Collection of work made in its studios. Jessica and Shanna quickly rose to the top due to their lusciously crafted prints and powerful content.
“We are thrilled to be invited together as a collaborative duo,” shared Jessica and Shanna. “Typical formats for invitations, residencies, and awards usually cater to individual artists. However, being Tanzanian-American and Colombian-American respectively, we have often encountered invitations specifically designated for Black artists or Latinx artists, which would only accommodate one of us. Therefore, we are incredibly excited about the opportunity to participate in a residency at Pyramid that breaks away from traditional models and embraces collaborative efforts like ours.”
The theme at the heart of SANA(A) is the healing of wounds, explored within various dimensions. Through Jessica and Shanna’s own personal journeys and their connections with other queer and trans women of color, both living and departed, they investigate how we mend individual, collective, and societal wounds, caused by grief, family dynamics, invisible labor, and migration.
The title of the exhibition itself carries a profound significance, blending the artists’ cultural backgrounds. “Sana” translates as a compelling command to “heal” in Spanish, while “sanaa” embodies the essence of “art” in Kiswahili, weaving together the roots of Jessica’s Colombian background and Shanna’s Tanzanian heritage. They interweave elements of these legacies within their work by incorporating symbols, patterns and artifacts from their respective motherlands.
SANA(A) visually represents the artists’ dedication to depicting women of color existence, voices, tenderness, care-taking, and spaces–not as subjects, rather as centers. Each piece they create is a celebration of our differences and a symbol of our liberation.
SANA(A) will bring approximately 20 prints together at Pyramid and include the new print hot off the press.
Jessica and Shanna’s collective studio is called Taller Sanaa, (TA – YER SAN- AR). Jessica is a cuir Colombian – American muralistx from San Francisco whose large-scale public artworks attempt to document and disrupt. Shanna is Tanzanian – American mixed media artist whose work centers on honoring and uplifting the oral traditions and stories of Black women, Indigenous women, and women of color. Together, their practice draws inspiration, connection, and influence from contemporary political and social movements. Their collaborative discipline is committed to uplifting the sacredness of women, people of color, the disabled, queer and trans folks, immigrants and the undocumented, and indigenous peoples, whom history perpetually renders as less than human. For the past six years, they have cultivated a new visual practice, encompassing muralism, printmaking, community engagement, and public art.
Their work has been collected and exhibited by various institutions including the National Portrait Gallery, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the PHI Foundation, the Library of Congress, The Obama Foundation Inaugural Summit, and Galería de la Raza. Together, they have been commissioned by the California Endowment, the University of California, San Francisco, and the Euphrat Museum to create public art installations. Notably, they have also received several awards including the Kala Art Institute Fellowship, Women’s Studio Workshop Studio Residency Grant, and the Incahoots Full-Grant Residency. They reside together in Oakland, California/Huchiun, unceded Ohlone territory.
The Denbo Publishing Residency relaunches a print publishing program at Pyramid that has been on hiatus for nearly 20 years. The residency invites artists to Pyramid’s studios to work with staff on an edition of work in print form. The edition (number of prints) produced is split 50/50 between the artist(s) and Pyramid. Pyramid’s current collection of work made by this type of residency includes prints, pulp paintings, and artist made books created and acquired between 1981 and 2007. Many of the artists who participated in the residency have since achieved greater prominence and influence, including Joyce J. Scott, William Christenberry, Miriam Schapiro, and Hung Liu. Pyramid is excited to add Jessica and Shanna’s new work to this history and hopes to host artists annually through this program.
The Denbo Publishing Residency is made possible in part by support from the family of artist Beverly Denbo. Pyramid is also grateful to Landex Development, which operates MiXt Food Hall, Artisan 4100 and Studio 3807 in Brentwood, for providing housing during the artists’ stay in the Gateway Arts District.