Crossing to Safety

Show Dates: March 3 – 31st

Artist Reception: Saturday, March 12th, 5-7pm

featuring The Great Tortilla Conspiracy and the psychedelic power pop band, OLOKUN

Artists Panel: Saturday, March 26, 5-7pm

Curated by: Elizabeth Addison and Pamela Blotner

Featuring: Emmanuel Montoya, Judy Shintani, Priscilla Otani, Salma Arastu, Sharon Siskin, Art Hazelwood, Ernest Jolly, Judy Johnson-Williams, Patricia A. Montgomery, Anthony Julius Williams, René Yañez

Detail of the woodblock for Emmanuel Montoya’s “The Border Crossed Us!”

“Crossing to Safety,” showcases works by twelve artists in the San Francisco Bay Area who draw and reflect upon their families’ journeys to, and settlement in, a new land. Like each fresh wave of migrants, these refugees endured disease, hunger, substandard housing, racism, and exploitation yet went on to enrich northern California with their music, art, architecture, and cuisine.

The participating artists work in range of media to address the positive and negative experiences that both long-time residents and new immigrants now face in the Bay Area.  The positive attributes include the reclamation of wetlands, availability of local produce, and a vibrant and multicultural atmosphere, while the negative attributes include the growing influx of technology companies and their highly-paid employees which has caused soaring housing costs, eviction, and homelessness.

The artists in the exhibition have dedicated their lives to art and activism on behalf of immigrants and other marginalized communities. Both the curators and artists believe that art can compliment social and economic reforms aimed at providing more equitable living conditions and jobs for all Bay Area residents.

Their works, sculptures, paintings, prints, installations, and performances, reflect each artist’s own experiences of migration and/or thoughts on the continuing immigration to the Bay Area.



Pamela Blotner is a Bay Area artist, educator and curator. Early in her career, as a Texas state Artist-in-Education, she taught and developed arts curricula for elementary and high school students newly immigrated from Mexico to Corpus Christi and Brownsville Texas. She has worked with refugee artists in Bosnia, Croatia and Burma and in 2007, curated an exhibition of contemporary Burmese art at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon and later brought a similar exhibition, “We Are Burma,” to Berkeley. Her recent curatorial effort “Envisioning Human Rights” celebrated the 20th Anniversary of UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center.  The exhibition, held in the School of Law, featured the works of international photographers working with threatened populations throughout the world.

Elizabeth Addison is a Berkeley-based visual artist, curator, and educator whose works are included in The California Endowment permanent collection and in numerous private and public collections. The granddaughter of immigrants herself, she has worked with and taught many of the disenfranchised including six years directing an after-school enrichment program that served as an ad hoc day care for struggling families and undocumented children. In 2014, she assisted Pamela Blotner with her curatorial project, “Envisioning Human Rights,” and produced the graphic communication and outreach materials for the exhibit. She is an Artist-in-Residence at Kala Art Institute, NCWCA (Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art) Professional Development Chair, and a WEAD member.