curator's statement | exhibition history | artists' bios

Biophilia: Humans and the Natural World

Curated by Nanette Wylde
Artists: Shari Bryant, Binh Danh, Elizabeth Gómez, Annette Goodfriend, Emily Gui, LeMonie Lightning Hutt, Yunan Ma, Kent Manske, Hector Dionicio Mendoza, and Minoosh Zomorodinia

Annette Goodfriend, Armor for Pregnancy
Binh Danh, Badwater Basin (Sea Level), Death Valley National Park, April 30, 2017
Elizabeth Gomez, Crow Mother at the Edge of the Wilderness
Emily Gui, Astroturf
Hector Dionicio Mendoza, White Wilderness
Kent Manske, Weave
Minoosh Zomorodinia, Sensation
Shari Bryant, Tigre
Yunan Ma, Cluster of Mini Love and Mini Galaxy
LeMonie Lightning Hutt, Dress of the Universe, (detail)

Exhibition Dates
October 6–November 5, 2023

October 14, 2–4 pm

WORKS/San San José 38 South Second Street, San José, California
WORKS/San José is a participant of SoFF: South First Fridays Art Walk


Curator's Statement

Biophilia, a phenomenon brought into popular awareness by biologist E.O. Wilson, is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. According to Wilson, we humans have an affinity for the natural world that has evolved over millennia and is part of our genetic makeup.

The artists in this exhibition acknowledge human tendencies towards biophilia with an amazing scope of diverse creations. They respond to and mimic the natural world with both realism and abstraction, invention and science. They look to landscape, creatures, biology, and the elements, often hybridizing new forms of beingness. They employ art media and concepts as a means of communion with a concept of nature that is slipping beyond their grasp. Their artworks demonstrate close connection, consideration, and looking at human interconnection with the natural world.


Biophilia Artists' Bios

Shari Bryant developed a love of portraiture working as a caricature and portrait artist at the Walt Disney World Resorts for a summer job in college. She opened her art studio Shari Bryant Creative in October of 2021, where she creates realistic and fantasy portrait art and commissions in charcoal and pastel. Shari is currently working on her MFA in Illustration at the Academy of Art University and was recently selected as a California Arts Council 2023 Individual Artist Fellow for the Central California Region.

Her current series Meladies: The Fantastic Black Woman is an exploration of Black women in fantasy. Fantasy is about escapism—imagining ourselves not as ourselves, or in different settings, beholden to different rules outside the confines of our normal realities. For too long, Black people and people of color were excluded from this sort of story-telling in spite of our dreams of better and bolder worlds. Black fans of escapism were sold stories about futures where they didn't exist. Or worse—where their skin represented all that was terrifying or evil in the land. Meladies—a portmanteau of Melanated Ladies—examines these popular tropes, reimagining Black women fantastically in roles of beauty, power, and brilliance.

Binh Danh's awards include a Eureka Fellowship and a Creative Work Fund. His work has been collected by the deYoung Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Gallery of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; among others. Danh's first monograph, The Enigma of Belonging, is available from Radius Books. He teaches photography at San Jose State University.

Elizabeth Gómez is a Redwood City based artist and children's book illustrator. Part of Gómez's practice involves designing and managing community participatory murals in both paint and mosaic. Gómez has an MFA in Pictorial Art from San Jose State University. She has shown at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco; the Oakland Museum of California; MACLA in San Jose, California; and at the Mohr Gallery in Mountain View, California.

Annette Goodfriend studied Genetics and Art at UC Berkeley, and received her MFA from the California College of the Arts. She has won several international art competitions, and was honored with residencies at the Morris Graves Foundation and the Headlands Center for the Arts. Her sculpture has been exhibited in solo and group shows nationally, and internationally. Goodfriend lives and works in Sonoma, California with her husband, son, and menagerie.

Emily Gui is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. Moving between printmaking, sculpture, photography and installation, her current work re-materializes objects and examines the nuances of human relationships with ubiquitous materials, from precious collections to garbage and everything in between. She has exhibited at galleries throughout the U.S. and currently teaches printmaking at UC Berkeley and UC Davis.

LeMonie Lightning Hutt is a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and from Yurok and Karuk decent. Hutt grew up on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in Northern California where she was immersed in her culture, particpating in many Hoopa Ceremonies, making traditional foods and gathering materials to create regalia. She is currently a sophomore at Harvard College concentrating in Government with a secondary in Education. Hutt is an advocate for Indigenous curriculum development and Implementation for k-12 public schools. She believes that Indigenous representation across multiple academic disciplines, including art, is a necessary part of creating a better world for us all.

Dress of the Universe, is inspired by the traditional Hoopa dress that is worn in ceremonies, as seen on the young woman, Trinity Colgrove, in the piece. Hutt’s artistry is directly informed by her experience creating her ceremonial dress that was debuted at her Flower Dance. The Flower Dance is a coming of age ceremony for young Hoopa, Yurok, and Karuk women, the ceremony is meant to empower the girl to become a woman who leads with care, is grounded in place, and has a strong sense of confidence. Hutt states that her experience from both having a Flower Dance and participating in other young womans Flower Dances is meant to be represented in Dress of the Universe.

Yunan Ma Fiber Art is designed and handmade by Yunan at the artist's studio in the SF Bay Area. Each unique piece is executed with the finest natural fibers including merino wool, alpaca wool, mohair, silk, cotton, and novelty accent, that are carefully selected from top yarn mills around the world. With a fine arts and knitwear design background, Yunan believes art is more than beautiful textures and exquisite craftsmanships. Every piece depicts a storytelling experience by interpreting energy and emotion in a cheerful way. A complex universe can be discovered inside of her fiber creatures, big or small, quiet or loud. Through the vision in her art, unlimited enthusiasm shines through from the creative manipulation of materials and techniques.

Born and raised in China with a background of eight years of learning fine arts, Yunan came to the US at the age of 17. After graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in Fashion Marketing and Management, Yunan worked at a well-known leather handbag company, where she mastered leather weaving techniques. Throughout the work experience, Yunan was fascinated about techniques for weaving and knitting subjects and discovered her passion in this field. To pursue her interest, she returned to school. In 2018, Yunan graduated from Academy of Art University with a MFA in Knitwear Design, and she was mentored by the famous knitwear designer Midori Sergent. Yunan was the only knitwear designer to attend the NYFW graduation runway; in addition, she was selected for 2018 CFDA+ Design Graduates Program. In the same year, Yunan gave a speech about the creative design process at Apple store in San Francisco, as part of the series, "Today at Apple."

Kent Manske creates images and symbols to inquire, process, manage, convey and assign meaning to ideas about human existence. He uses printmaking and book publishing processes to create one-of-a-kind and limited-edition works on paper. Manske has a BFA from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a co-founder of PreNeo Press in Redwood City, California. His work can be found in public and private collections including the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums and the Oakland Museum of California.

Hector Dionicio Mendoza is a mixed-media artist, curator, and educator based in Salinas, California. His practice includes sculpture, installation and two-dimensional works that combine natural, organic and synthetic materials. Mendoza’s work explores a wide range of themes, including relationships between history, race and nature. Mendoza has an MFA in Painting from Yale University and a BFA in Sculpture from the California College of the Arts. His awards include the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the Eureka Fellowship, and the Lucas Artist Residency Fellowship at Montalvo Art Center. His work has been exhibited throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan and Mexico. He is Associate Professor of Sculpture at CSU Monterey Bay.

Minoosh Zomorodinia is an Iranian-born interdisciplinary artist who makes visible the emotional and psychological reflections of her mind's eye inspired by nature and her environment. She employs walking as a catalyst to reference the power of technology as a colonial structure while negotiating boundaries of land. Her strollings sometimes reimagine our relationships between nature, land, and technology, while addressing transformation of memories into actual physical space absurdly.

Zomorodinia has received several awards, residences, and grants including the Kala Media Fellowship Award, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency, Djerassi Residency, Recology Artist Residency, the Alternative Exposure Award, and California Art Council Grants. She has exhibited locally and internationally including the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Berkeley Art Center, Pori Art Museum, Nevada Museum of Art, ProARTS among others. Her work has been featured in the SF Chronicle, Hyperallergic, SF Weekly, KQED and many other media outlets. She earned her Master's of Fine Arts in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute, and holds a Master's degree in Graphic Design and Bachelor's of Art in Photography from Azad University in Tehran. She currently lives and works in the Bay Area.

Biophilia curator, Nanette Wylde, is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and cultural worker making socially reflective and often language-based works using a variety of hybrid media. Wylde has a Bachelor's of Arts in Behavioral Science from San Jose State University. Her Master's of Fine Arts is in Interactive Multimedia and Printmaking from Ohio State University. She is Professor Emerita of Art and Art History at California State University, Chico.

Wylde's artist books, prints and electronic works are included in significant international collections including: The Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, United Kingdom; The Iraqi National Library, Baghdad, Iraq; The Oakland Museum of California; Museum of the Miniature Book, Baku, Azerbaijan; Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany; The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One; and many Public and University Library Special Collections.

Wylde's interests include: language, personality, difference, beliefs, systems, ideas, movement, reflection, identity, perceptions, structures, stories, socialization, definitions, context, memory, experience, the natural world, change, and residue.

curator's statement | exhibition history | artists' bios