Exhibitions & Public Events

Harbinger: 12 Graduates
Thursday, Aug 26, 2021 - Friday, Sep 24, 2021
Walter and McBean Galleries

Harbinger: 12 Graduates
Curated by Catherine Opie
Walter and McBean Galleries
August 26 - September 24, 2021
Wednesday - Saturday 10 am - 6 pm

San Francisco Art Institute is pleased to announce Harbinger: 12 Graduates, an exhibition curated by artist and SFAI alumna Catherine Opie. The twelve artists represented are graduates of the class of 2021, both BFA and MFA students, and have been selected based on the strength and vision of their work across various mediums. 

A harbinger can be understood as a prelude, an opening, or a sign of something new to come. The 12 graduates whose work is featured here herald a new collective moment that has arisen out of the shared trauma of the past year. In spite of the obstacles presented by a fractured and challenging year, these artists not only completed their degrees, but created work responding with depth and bravery to our cultural moment. 

From Catherine Opie, exhibition curator:

My years at San Francisco Art Institute were incredibly formative and in viewing the work of these recent graduates, I couldn’t help but think back to my time as a student. I was intrigued to see how SFAI’s BFA and MFA cohort of 2021 would respond to the educational and cultural shift of the past year. Artists are uniquely equipped to address how it is to exist within a culture and the 12 artists here offer us a glimpse of how this recent cohort is navigating a particularly tumultuous moment.

This opportunity to review work from the BFA and MFA cohort of 2021 allowed me to see how this last year and the social and cultural movement is showing up for recent graduates. The date on their diplomas will forever carry a certain weight to it and this work is inevitably viewed through the lens of our shared pandemic year. I've said that good work has an intimacy to it that can hopefully go beyond oneself and beyond a specific time and place; the artists here do this work with a real sense of courage and self-inquiry that renews one’s belief in the transformational power of art-making. I congratulate this group of artists willing to push forward their beliefs and convictions. 


Participating artists:
Camila de Andrade Bianchi (BFA), Dominique Birdsong (MFA), Rora Blue (BFA), Lexygius Sanchez Calip (MFA/MA), Alex Dai (BFA), Emily Golla (BFA), Gisselle Immormino (BFA), Diana Ostrom (BFA), Kit Radford (MFA), Colette Standish (MFA), Christian Tan (MFA), Flora Wilds (MFA)

About the curator:
Catherine Opie was born in Sandusky, Ohio, and lives and works in Los Angeles. She received a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 1985, and an MFA from CalArts in 1988. She has taught at Yale University and at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was recently appointed chair of the Department of Art. 

Opie’s solo exhibitions include shows at the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Norway; ICA Boston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Henie Onstad Art Centre, Oslo; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; St. Louis Art Museum; MOCA, Chicago; MOCA, Los Angeles; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Portland Art Museum; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; Galeria Massimo De Carlo, Milan; and Ginza Art Space, Tokyo.

In recognition of her distinctive work, Opie received The Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019, The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Medal in 2016, The Julius Shulman Excellence in Photography Award in 2013, a United States Artists Fellowship in 2006, and The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts in 2003.

Opie serves on the board of directors of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, and on the board of trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She was on the first Artist Council of the Hammer Museum.


Harbinger: 12 Graduates was curated by Catherine Opie and organized by John Priola and Katie Hood Morgan.

Special thanks to Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, Jennifer Rissler; Chief Preparator, Robin Beard; Senior Manager of Studio Operations & Curricular Resources, Alex Peterson; Director of Operations & Facilities, John Seden; Operations & Facilities Manager, Rene Lopez; Technical Director, Christopher Paddock; and Institutional Giving Manager, Elisa Isaacson.

SFAI is grateful for the many generous supporters who make our programs possible. Our Exhibitions and Public Programs are sponsored in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation, Grants for the Arts, the Koret Foundation, Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and SF Artists Alumni, Inc.


Image: Rora Blue, Flagged, 2021; Courtesy of the artist.