Performer Violeta Luna (right) and community member Maria Reina Sanchez (left), part of the performance collective Secos & Mojados, in "BORDER TRIP(tych)/TRIP(tico) de la frontera." Photo by Samuel Teer.
Two University of San Francisco art professors have been chosen as 2009
Creative Capital grant winners for their work breaking down barriers
and raising awareness.
Franceschini, assistant professor of visual arts, and Roberto Gutierrez
Varea, associate professor and chair of performing arts, have each been
award multi-year grants from Creative Capital, a national nonprofit
that supports and funds adventurous and imaginative artists in the
performing and visual arts, film or video, innovative literature, and
other emerging fields.
“The Creative Capital award is much more
than the financial support. This group offers professional support and
access to a network of other funders, publishers, fellowships, and
publicity,” said Franceschini. “This is something that is priceless.”
is working with San Francisco’s Exploratorium on a plan to install
urine-capturing receptacles in the museum’s bathrooms, for the first of
a three-part art series titled “Local Landscape Campus.” The captured
urine will be used to water and fertilize a garden installation at the
museum to illustrate the possibilities of recycling.
“It is a
cross-disciplinary research and social critique, focusing on how humans
create, interact with, and impact the world they inhabit,” Franceschini
Prior to installation, the urine-capturing receptacles
project, known separately as the “Renewable Energy Laboratory,” will
involve researching existing and historical urine harvesting systems,
and developing exhibition and educational materials, which Franceschini
intends to involve USF students in.
The big hurdle will be
overcoming the negative social perception of urine collection,
Franceschini said. “It is safe and healthy,” she said. “In Sweden, for
example, farmers use direct urine on their cabbage crops and this
cabbage has been some of the easiest to grow, nutrient rich, and pest
From breaking down public perceptions surrounding
waste and recycling to those of borders and immigration politics,
Gutierrez Varea will use his grant to fund a trilogy of performance
pieces on one Latin American immigrant’s journey to the United States
and subsequent search for work.
As part of the San
Francisco-based performance collective Secos & Mojados, the
majority of whose members are immigrants or the children of immigrants
to the United States, Varea has begun work on a series dubbed “BORDER
TRIP(tych)/TRIP(tico) de la frontera.”
“Performance reminds the
audience of the web of interpersonal relationships by making these
visible on stage,” Varea said. “We are less likely to dismiss the
‘other,’ if we are made to see the intricate web of inter-connectedness
that exists between the migrant, their labor, and our lives.”
most performance pieces, the 90-minute trilogy will be developed over
several months with immigrant and nonimmigrant audience interactions as
part of the process. Each piece will then be edited and re-edited with
the audiences input in mind, Varea said.
“Inspired by our
heritage and our work with migrant workers, we decided to develop Secos
& Mojados as an experiment where, as immigrant artists, we would
assume not only the development of contextual frameworks (as in our
community-based work) but also of our own expressive content,” Varea
Essential to the concept of “BORDER TRIP(tych)/TRIP(tico)
de la frontera” is that while much is being written and said about
immigrants and immigration policy in the United States these days, it’s
very rare that immigrants themselves are allowed to self-define their
identity boundaries in a public forum, Varea said.