PEOPLE OF FIGMENT: Emmie Katz

Welcome to FIGMENT people, a series of stories about the people behind FIGMENT Oakland! We’ll meet some people on the core event team, artists and volunteers. Want to hear about a specific FIGMENT team member or volunteer? Email us and tell us who you’d like to see: oakland@figmentproject.org

FIGMENT person: Emmie Katz

Emmie Katz is the 2015 Curatorial Director for FIGMENT Oakland. Her role has her communicating with our dozens of artists, managing the growing volunteer curatorial team, assisting with art placement and event logistics, and doing individual artist outreach. Her longtime roots in the local community give her a unique perspective on the Oakland art scene.

Why FIGMENT?

Though this is Emmie's first year in a FIGMENT team leadership role, she is no stranger to large volunteer art projects, events and festivals. She was drawn to FIGMENT in particular because of its commitment to inclusivity.

She says, "The Bay Area is lucky to have a ton of great places to see and make art. FIGMENT is unique, and particularly exciting to me, because of its commitment to making a welcoming, creative space that isn't transactional. Creative expression is very democratic, and very human. I like to blur the distinctions between art, craft, and play. I hope that FIGMENT becomes a place for that in the Bay Area."

What does she do when she's not working on FIGMENT?

Emmie keeps busy building large scale art installations all year long. Her passions include sculpture, carpentry and metalworking. She was part of the teams that created the larger-than-life Birdhouse for Arthur J. Wren (which made an appearance at FIGMENT in 2014 and has travelled to other events such as the Treasure Island Music Festival) and the Ardent Mobile Cloud Platform (which has been shown at California Academy Nightlife and other places, click here for a video). She's an avid rock climber and writer.


Want to meet Emmie and say hello? Join the volunteer team and help her do whatever needs doing!


PEOPLE OF FIGMENT: Josh Silverman

Welcome to FIGMENT people, a series of stories about the people behind FIGMENT Oakland! We’ll meet some people on the core event team, artists and volunteers. Want to hear about a specific FIGMENT team member or volunteer? Email us and tell us who you’d like to see: oakland@figmentproject.org

 

 

FIGMENT person: Josh Silverman

Josh Silverman is a longtime rockstar volunteer and contributing artist to FIGMENT. He’s helped out with FIGMENT NYC over the years with promotion, labor and logistics. He also produced the popular Kissing Booth installation in 2013. Now a Bay Area resident, he’s leading a project to bring to FIGMENT a massive 18-foot-tall outdoor LED video wall where he’s curated a lineup of original digital video content from a dozen local artists. He hopes it will be seen from space.

Why FIGMENT?

Some people donate money to charities or volunteer at soup kitchens. Josh believes that bringing participatory art to the masses in a setting like FIGMENT is a meaningful way to give back to the community.

Josh says, “A good interactive art piece should feel like magic to the viewer, and FIGMENT provides a really magical environment for this kind of work, especially for kids. That makes it an ideal venue for bringing interactive video art to people who might not otherwise know that it exists!”

What else does he do when he’s not working on FIGMENT?

Josh lives and breathes digital art and video in his day job at the WorldStage Lab where he works on projection mapping, graphics code and R&D, and system design and sales. In his spare time he writes music, plays classical piano and climbs rocks. (A terrible combination for the hands, actually!)

 

Josh encounters a subterranean art installation life form at FIGMENT NYC.


Want to meet Josh in person and say hi? Volunteer to help right here!


PEOPLE OF FIGMENT: Audrey Boguchwal

Welcome to FIGMENT people, a series of stories about the people behind FIGMENT Oakland! We’ll meet some people on the core event team, artists and volunteers. Want to hear about a specific FIGMENT team member or volunteer? Email us and tell us who you’d like to see: oakland@figmentproject.org

FIGMENT person: Audrey Boguchwal

Audrey Figment.jpg

An oldie but goody, Audrey surveying the terrain at FIGMENT NYC 2009. Yes, that’s a cooler.

Audrey is a member of the communications team for FIGMENT Oakland 2015. Her role is to tell everyone about FIGMENT, at all times. She promotes FIGMENT to artists, organizations and participants alike. Audrey attended the first FIGMENT ever, in NYC in 2007, and joined the curatorial team the following year. Over the years, she’s volunteered for FIGMENT in many capacities. She served as FIGMENT NYC curatorial director from 2009-2010 and is excited to be involved with FIGMENT in her new west-coast home.

Why FIGMENT?

For Audrey, FIGMENT is as much about about participation as it is about art.

She says, “FIGMENT reminds people that they should participate in their communities. They need not be spectators in their own lives. Through art and play, FIGMENT models the positive outcome of collaboration. When we come together to work on shared projects, the benefits for all increase. FIGMENT teaches us to get involved - a valuable lesson that we can take back to local government, education, our jobs and more.”

What else does she do when she’s not working on FIGMENT?

Audrey has approached art from many directions. As a kid, she spent her summers at visual arts camps, making horrifying creations that still lurk in her parents’ suburban New York basement. Undeterred by society’s feedback on her work, she thought, “perhaps I should approach art from a new angle,” and pursued graduate study in Museum Anthropology, later working in a few different museums. A few trips to Burning Man followed and soon she stumbled upon FIGMENT on that fateful day in 2007

Over the years, Audrey has been part of teams for many large-scale art installations in New York City, its environs and the Nevada desert. These days, she is more focused on smaller projects like elaborate cooking, indoor gardening, and crafts. During the week, Audrey manages software design and development for a tech nonprofit in San Francisco. In her spare time, she enjoys social partner dancing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, exploring museums, hosting dinner parties and listening to podcasts.

Want to meet Audrey in person and be part of our team? Volunteer to help right here!

 


PEOPLE OF FIGMENT: Irene Malatesta

Welcome to FIGMENT people, a series of stories about the people behind FIGMENT Oakland! We’ll meet some people on the core event team, artists and volunteers. Want to hear about a specific FIGMENT team member or volunteer? Email us and tell us who you’d like to see: oakland@figmentproject.org

 

 

Irene hard at work at Artist Check-In, FIGMENT NYC 2014.

 

FIGMENT person: Irene Malatesta

Irene Malatesta is the Outreach Director for FIGMENT Oakland 2014-15. Her role involves talking to artists, art institutions and other non-profit organizations about FIGMENT. She works all season long to forge and nurture partnerships between local organizations and publicize FIGMENT to the greater Bay Area arts community. She has been a volunteer and curator for FIGMENT NYC since its inception, before skipping town and moving to San Francisco this year.

 

Why FIGMENT?

From drawing to storytelling, performance art and dance, Irene loves interactive art and creativity in all its forms.

She says, “One thing I love most about FIGMENT is how the events encourage people of all ages to explore and play. My education background is in fine art and art criticism, but it makes me really sad to think how many people are put off or intimidated by art that they think is too complex or serious or just not intended for them. I’m so proud to work on an event where everything is explicitly presented for the interactive enjoyment of all - where there are no wrong answers and visitors can focus on the joy of discovery.”

 

What else does she do when she’s not working on FIGMENT? 

Irene has spent many fun years devoting her spare time to creative events in and around the arts community, including over 10 years of producing absurd costume and theme events with Kostume Kult, leading Zombiecon, and dancing with Thrill The World in New York City. In her day job, she’s the marketing director for a health and wellness-focused tech startup in downtown San Francisco, and spends whatever time she has left hiking, climbing, dancing and writing.

 

Dancing with Thrill The World in the street at Dance Parade, NYC.


Want to meet Irene in person and say hi? Come to FIGMENT Oakland on October 24th! Or, even better, volunteer to help right here.


18 ft LED video wall at FIGMENT Oakland!

This year at FIGMENT Oakland, an 18-foot LED video wall will serve as a venue for presenting interactive video works outside at Mosswood Park! From 11AM to 5PM, artists will be presenting camera-controlled interactive video art, audio-reactive visuals, VJ sets and dance performances.

Artist's rendering of the LED wall that WorldStage will bring to Figment Oakland at Mosswood Park on October 24 2015

 

Schedule of Artists: (subject to change)

11:00AM CodeDoodl.es (Assorted artists, see below)

11:30AM Tim Thompson

12:00PM Josh Silverman & WorldStage Lab with Toni Mikulka

12:30PM Steve Teeple

1:00PM Susan Pfeffer & Nina Rocio Fernandez (Performance: “Almost There, Nearly”)

1:30PM Tim Thompson

2:00PM Ben McChesney

2:30PM Helios Interactive

3:00PM Elements Group

3:30PM Eyal Ohana

4:00PM Karen Marcelo

4:30PM CodeDoodl.es

Codedoodl.es artists include:

Anders Hoff

Cabbibo

Damien Mortini

Fábio Azevedo

Felix Woitzel

Justin Windle

Mat Groves

Neil Carpenter

Silvio Paganini

William Mapan

Xiaohan Zhang

 

“Arrows” by Cabbibo

 

A screen capture of an interactive piece from Helios Interactive

 

“Line” by Xiaohan Zhang

 

“Muscular Hydrostats” by Justin Windle

 

The video wall is being managed by Josh Silverman from the WorldStage Lab.

 


PEOPLE OF FIGMENT: Marissa Joy Clark

Welcome to FIGMENT people, a series of stories about the people behind FIGMENT Oakland! We’ll meet some people on the core event team, artists and volunteers. Want to hear about a specific FIGMENT team member or volunteer? Email us and tell us who you’d like to see: oakland@figmentproject.org 

   

FIGMENT person: Marissa Joy Clark

Marissa is FIGMENT Oakland’s Communication Director this year, and was last year’s Social Media Manager.  Like most people who get involved in FIGMENT she heard about it through a friend.  When she heard they needed some social media help, she dived right in and started spreading the good word about FIGMENT!

 

Why FIGMENT?

Marissa says, “FIGMENT merges two things I love passionately: Oakland and interactive art.  Working to make more people in Oakland aware of our event, and to help bring in more artists to share what they do at FIGMENT is like a dream come true!”

For Marissa, the most important facet of FIGMENT is its accessibility.  “It’s easy to get to, it’s free, and it’s an all-day event. There are no membership dues, no tickets, no gated security, no barriers physical or financial to ‘get in.’  You are already ‘in’ the minute you set foot inside Mosswood Park.

“The thing that has always made me feel uncomfortable in traditional art settings, whether it’s a gallery, a theater, or a concert hall, is how they are all formed around this idea of otherness and class.  Those places have a definitive value, and I’m grateful for them, but there’s so much more to art than that.  Art is meant to be for everyone.

“I get the exact opposite feeling at FIGMENT.  I believe art should be engaging, and the pinnacle of engagement is when you invite your audience to become part of the art. For me FIGMENT feels like freedom, to explore, to interact, to be authentically human, and most of all to have fun! ”

 

What else does she do when she’s not working on FIGMENT?

Marissa is no stranger to the arts!  She studied opera performance at Boston University and Salzburg College in Austria.  She has been involved in community theater and dance performance her whole life.  

Marissa is one third of Siren Syndicate, an Oakland-based fusion tribal belly dance troupe led by the illustrious, Lady Fred.

She is a five-year veteran of Burning Man, and recently took on being a theme camp organizer for Camp Morning Cookie, and built its interactive tea house geodome where she and her camp mates held quirky Dust-Tea Ceremonies in Black Rock City.

Other things Marissa loves: psychogeography, situational design, and teaching people to properly compost.

 

Siren Syndicate + guest dancers backstage at TribalFest 13

 


PEOPLE OF FIGMENT: Kasey Smith

Welcome to FIGMENT people, a series of stories about the people behind FIGMENT Oakland! We’ll meet some people on the core event team, artists and volunteers. Want to hear about a specific FIGMENT team member or volunteer? Email us and tell us who you’d like to see at oakland@figmentproject.org.

Kasey Smith was the Curatorial Director for the very first FIGMENT to take place in Oakland, 2014. Her role involved individual artist outreach, assisting artists with their project submissions, reviewing proposals and generally assisting artists with everything required to get their projects ready for FIGMENT. She also led a free workshop at the event all about seed bombs and the ins-and-outs of guerrilla gardening.

Why FIGMENT?

Kasey is extremely proud of her involvement in FIGMENT for many reasons, but the top might be how it allows her to bring the arts to a wider variety of people.

When asked why she chose to work on FIGMENT Oakland, she says, “I've worked on a lot of exclusive, underground interactive art projects and after a while they become slightly boring walled gardens. It's much more fulfilling to bring that kind of work to the general public, to kids and families, to people who don't greet this kind of interactive work with entitlement or jadedness.”

What else does she do when she’s not working on FIGMENT?

Kasey is a busy installation and performance artist making guerrilla work in and about Oakland, CA. Her artwork addresses local history, native ecologies, and the ephemerality of urban space. She’s currently working on two jewelry-based project series. One involves chainmail maps of Oakland neighborhoods pre and post development. The other is a series of conceptual "seed bombs" utilizing inventive methods of seed dispersal (breaking glass, eating candy, melting ice, etc). You can find her work right here.

 

In progress: A chainmail map of the Oakland Coliseum neighborhood, 1950 vs 2015.

Want to meet Kasey in person and say hello? Come to FIGMENT Oakland on October 24th! Or, even better, volunteer to help out right here.

 


PEOPLE OF FIGMENT: Rick Abruzzo

Welcome to FIGMENT people, a series of stories about the people behind FIGMENT Oakland! We’ll meet some people on the core event team, artists and volunteers. Want to hear about a specific FIGMENT team member or volunteer? Email us and tell us who you’d like to see at oakland@figmentproject.org.

Rick Abruzzo

 

Rick Abruzzo is the Producer for FIGMENT Oakland 2015. What does that mean? A little bit of everything. His responsibilities entail cross-team communication and coordination, working with FIGMENT Global and of course, taking the lead on production on the day of the event.

Why FIGMENT?

Rick says, “What I love about FIGMENT, first and foremost, is the accessibility to the art and performance. Not everyone in the community is exposed to the kind of hands-on projects and interactive installations because of the social-economic background or museums catering to a much more passive and classical art experience. Second, would easily be getting to work which such a driven, giving and supportive volunteer staff. The Oakland FIGMENT team never cease to surprise me how much they are willing to give back to the artist and audience.”

What else does he do when he’s not working on FIGMENT?

Creative events are his passion! Rick has produced or participated in numerous events in the Bay Area over the years. He has been proudly involved in creating the Dancehall Of Beautiful Radiant Things, Everyhere Logistics, All World's Fair, Fallen Cosmos, Urban Golf, Urban Iditarod, 9.8th Fighting Kite Brigade, What's Your Answer and more. He also co-founded pirate radio station Radio Valencia and until last year was the Crew Lead for Sound and Stage at BRC Center Camp Cafe. He lives North Oakland with his cat Megatron.

 

Photo: The Urban Idiatarod 


Want to meet Rick in person and give him a high five? Come to FIGMENT Oakland on October 24th! Or, even better, volunteer to help out right here!


How can my class and children participate in FIGMENT? A guide for teachers and parents!

2014 FIGMENT Oakland pARTicipants (photo by Calista Chandler

(2014 FIGMENT Oakland pARTicipants! Photo by Calista Chandler)

 

As an inclusive, participatory event, FIGMENT creates an environment in which children and adults alike are invited to play. Though it is not specifically for kids, it attracts a large number of children and young families. It's an entirely free event in a big outdoor space, making it a perfect place for kids to run around and explore. At the same time, FIGMENT is not a “just for kids” environment. We often hear adults comment that they “feel like kids” at FIGMENT: given an opportunity, even adults are able to play, have fun, and look at the world with fresh eyes.

So, how can your children and students make the most of FIGMENT? We have some ideas and if you have more, please let us know in the comments!

For teachers: class participation!

Children enjoy that FIGMENT’s culture is about getting your hands dirty and working with others to create. At FIGMENT, it’s okay to touch. In fact, it’s encouraged. Part of the FIGMENT ethos is that education comes from engagement.

FIGMENT is a great place for a class project. Rather than making something in the classroom and bringing it to FIGMENT to exhibit, consider a project that your students can work on with others at the event. A big group mural, collages, an interactive game or theatre piece, a sculpture to which people add small pieces. It does not need to be something that event participants take home with them. It could be something to bring back to the classroom. Need some help? Submit your idea to FIGMENT and we can help you brainstorm!

Want to use FIGMENT as part of a class lesson? It can be viewed as a counterpoint to museums, stores and other festivals because it is free, encourages participation and does not sell anything. 

Dress for fun!

FIGMENT is a great place for personal expression. Many people of all ages wear costumes or other fun clothing. The event is outdoors and interactive projects range from sport-like games to building things to paint to impromptu dance parties. Consider that kids will probably want to move around a lot and might get messy when helping them pick an outfit for the day.

Bring toys!

As an outdoor event with lots of lawn space, FIGMENT is great for hula hoops, kites, sidewalk chalk and other portable outdoor games. 

Prepare for the outdoors!

FIGMENT is in a park, so prepare as you would for any day outdoors. Pack water, snacks, sunblock, jackets and hats to stay comfortable. Bring a picnic blanket so that you have a place to relax during the event. The well-behaved family dog is also welcome, as long as he or she is on a lease. Read more about what to bring.

Food:

We recommend packing a picnic lunch so that you can maximize your time at the event. Mosswood Park is in a residential neighborhood without many restaurants and there is no official food vending at FIGMENT, since the event is entirely noncommercial (read more about why). There may be some food trucks in the neighborhood, but we recommend packing something of your own. 

More ideas? Questions? Let us know in the comments and we can help you make the most of FIGMENT Oakland!


5 Resources for Artists in Oakland

San Francisco is known around the world for its quirky, colorful aesthetic and rich history. Just across the East Bay, Oakland is also bursting with creativity, with one of the highest concentrations of artists in the United States! If you’re an artist looking for places to show your work in the East Bay area, here are some 5 great resources that you should definitely have on your radar.

Note: We are not affiliated with these organizations nor did they ask us to mention them. We do think they would be helpful to great number of our local community!

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1. Oakland Arts Enthusiast

Oakland Arts Enthusiast is a regularly updated home for arts journalism, covering contemporary artists, events and gallery openings, as well as calls for artwork. The directory page lists dozens of independent galleries and studio spaces in Oakland and Berkeley. Search the calendar for events and openings, browse the gallery section for photo coverage of recent shows you may have missed, or contact them with your own press releases.

 

2. Oakland Art Murmur

Oakland Art Murmur is a beloved East Bay non-profit institution, comprised of a network of member venues. According to their website, member venues in the OAM network exhibited over 1200 artists in more than 400 exhibitions in 2012, to an estimated 84,000 visitors. Find out about open studios, social events hosted by and for artists, and free walking tours. Their mission? To “ignite and nurture a lifelong love and appreciation of art”!

3. Free Oakland UP

The project of curator and artist Jocelyn Meggait, Free Oakland UP is “a multi-purpose art space focused on building community by offering art and objects for free and focusing on socially activated art projects.” For artists working in assemblage, mixed media, sculpture or collages, the listings on this website can be a treasure map to your next amazing materials. They offer a wonderful array of items, opportunities and best of all, space, all for free.

4. California Arts Council

The California Arts Council (CAC) is an organization dedicated to “advancing California through the arts and creativity.” Their grand mission statement proclaims a desire to enrich the lives of all Californians “by access to and participation in a diverse spectrum of artists and arts and cultural experiences” as well as increase public support for the arts and arts education.

Whether you’re seeking help with learning about art grants, or an up to date list of open calls for artwork, their website has got you covered.

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5. FIGMENT

Of course we have to include FIGMENT! You may already know that there is an annual FIGMENT event in Oakland, but it’s actually a global non-profit organization with a deep network of artists, volunteers of all kinds and community organizers.

So what does that mean for artists? It means that if you’re an artist, a maker, or a DIY enthusiast looking to connect with like-minded creators, FIGMENT can be a great starting point. Check out our website, Twitter and Facebook groups to start networking with other artists and organizers of FIGMENT events, and tap into a welcoming community all around the world.