Trace Elements

May 8 - July 3, 2009
SFAC Gallery, Main Gallery and 155 Grove Street Window Installation Site

What are the trace elements of a City? Does the urban environment hold secrets or codes that would provide a greater comprehension of its systems, or of its human inhabitants? What remains when individuals and the places we build cease to exist? How does this evidence, these trace elements, assist us in piecing together history?

SFAC Gallery 401 Van Ness Artists:
Michelle Blade, Jason Jagel, Dan Nakamura, Ferris Plock, Clare Rojas, Deth P. Sun, Kelly Tunstall, Porous Walker, Marci Washington and the Hamburger Eyes collective.

At the SFAC Gallery Window Installation Site at 155 Grove St:
Chris Duncan, Maya Hayuk, Kyle Ranson, and Brion Nuda Rosch


In the field of science a trace element is a minute component of a whole. It is not insignificant, however, because without trace elements the organism/entity would either not be what it is, or not be healthy. Identifying a trace element is very difficult, but once it has been singled out, it is often the key that unlocks a complete understanding of what is being researched.

What are the trace elements of a City? Does the urban environment hold secrets or codes that would provide a greater comprehension of its systems, or of its human inhabitants? What remains when individuals and the places we build cease to exist? How does this evidence, these trace elements, assist us in piecing together history?

These are some of the questions posed to the Bay Area-based artists in the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery’s exhibition, Trace Elements. Each artist in the exhibition was chosen because of their remarkable visual and conceptual strategies for building and communicating complex narratives. The newly commissioned works in the exhibition range from installation to painting to photography, and attempt to reveal or reconcile some of San Francisco’s hidden secrets. Detectives and historians are left with gaps in their evidence and must piece together plausible explanations of what existed or took place in the past. Such is the case with our team of artists; expect to see a labyrinth of fact intertwined with fiction, and outcomes that pose more questions than they answer.

Meg Shiffler, SFAC Gallery Director, states, “Because the SFAC Gallery is a program of the San Francisco Arts Commission, an agency of the City and County of San Francisco, much of what we attempt to do in our exhibitions is centered on enlivening a dialogue around contemporary art and its relationship to urban and sociopolitical issues. For this exhibition our interest is on human interaction with the urban environment; the traces left behind, how that residue can be interpreted, and how histories are assembled.”

Trace Elements continues at the SFAC Gallery Window Installation Site at 155 Grove St with a new site-specific work created by former Bay Area, and now New York-based, artist Maya Hayuk in collaboration with local artists Chris Duncan, Kyle Ranson and Brion Nuda Rosch.