Portrait in Play – A Multidisciplinary Inquiry (2019)

A visual art exhibition coupled with a one-day-only live dance performance

Exhibition opens at Minnesota Street Project on Saturday, June 1, 4:00-8:00pm;

Continues through Saturday, July 27, 2019.

(Pictured above) Trisha Yee’s photo of her figurine (left) and Trisha Yee in rehearsal for the Portrait in Play dance performance.

Continuing its 50th anniversary season, the San Francisco Arts Education Project presents a multidisciplinary exploration of the self in Portrait in Play – A Multidisciplinary Inquiry.

Incorporating self-portrait, miniature photography, dance and many more elements, Portrait in Play is an original exhibition created over three months by 24 young artists, ages 9-14. The project was conceived by Seyed Alavi and realized with the participation of artists Rachel Major (visual art) and Emily Keeler, Natalie Greene and Lauren Unbekant (performance). In addition to a visual art exhibition that includes a 3-D printed figurine of each student demonstrating a defining stance or gesture (developed through work with a choreographer), Portrait in Play will feature a one-day-only live dance performance that grew out of the artists’ movement work. The dance performance will be repeated on opening day, Saturday, June 1, between 4 and 8pm.

Lead artist Seyed Alavi says: “Portrait in Play seeks to provide a playful context for the participating students to explore the classical theme of self-portraits. The medium of smart phones along with the 3-D printed figurines, and micro-world photography, all help to introduce a whole new creative landscape, one that is both familiar and exotic at the same time. This uncharted territory is intended to further activate the imagination of the young artists and to encourage a fresh and improvisatory approach to their art making.”

The exhibition allows visitors to see each artist’s figurine as well as the photographs the artists have taken of their figurine in various found and/or composed environments. Also included are black-and-white portraits of each artist as well as a sub-gallery devoted to documenting the four-month process undertaken by the young artists and their artist mentors.

SFArtsED Artistic Director Emily Keeler recalls Seyed Alavi describing all art as being in some way self-portrait. “But this project,” she adds, “allows the young artists to ultimately create a facsimile of themselves, over which they can have a certain power. It is a practice of control of the self. This project is engaging middle school students, who at this age, are physically changing very quickly into young adults. This is a time when issues of the body are often fraught and certainly sit at the very center of their understanding of themselves.”

Portrait in Play – A Multidisciplinary Inquiry is on exhibit June 1, 2019 through July 27, 2019 in the San Francisco Arts Education Project’s art studio-classroom in Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota Street (@24th Street), San Francisco, second floor. Opening reception is Saturday, June 1 from 4:00pm to 8:00pm. Live performances will occur hourly on opening day. Regular hours are Tuesday-Friday 11am-4pm. First Saturday hours on June 1 and July 13 (delayed by the Fourth of July holiday) are 11am to 8pm.