On July 8, visitors who attended Friday Nights at the de Young had the chance to experience the Artist Fellows Showcase, which featured contributions from the first class of Artist Fellows: Campo Santo, Kevin Epps and Todd T. Brown. The Koret Auditorium was transformed into a dynamic space of interdisciplinary exploration and expression with three pieces that brought you into a hip-hop theater collective, onto the streets of Oakland and into the sights and sounds of Africa and South Asia.
Campo Santo’s Carlos Aguirre kicked off the evening with a beat boxing performance that was so incomprehensively realistic that he had the entire audience moving, cheering, laughing and scratching their heads at this human drum machine. The whole space was filled with noises, melodies and infectious rhythms, all from the mouth of the charismatic Aguirre, who impressed the audience not only with his beat boxing but also with his physical presence.
Next up was a pair of short documentaries from Kevin Epps. Jailed on Principle told the story of videographer Josh Wolf who filmed a series of riots in the Mission and eventually turned himself in to federal custody. Next up was Popped in Oakland, an emotional look at the ever-constant issue of violence in the East Bay. The mood in the Koret shifted as the attendants were shown sides of the Bay Area that are difficult to face, but Epps’ pieces tell these stories with an immediacy and honesty that garnered a palpable sense of passion and awareness among the audience members.
The evening ended with Nefasha Ayer Trio. The mood shifted once again as a video projection by Brandon Eversole and Ariane Wu played as a backdrop to the band, with an ethereal play of images from a recent tour of Ethiopia. The music began and an entire world opened up. The playful vocals of Meklit Hadero and the fluid rhythms of Prasant Radhakrishnan's saxophone and Todd Brown's guitar mixed languages and genres, with international influences ranging from South Asia to the Americas.
We hope that you had the chance to make it down for this glimpse of the work by our Artist Fellows, but you will have many more opportunities in the months to come, as the artists present works-in-progress and, finally, premieres of their final works in the fall. Join them on Fridays in the Kimball Artist Studio at the de Young from 6–8:30 pm and check the website and blog for information on the Artist Fellows and other upcoming events.