The Art of Storytelling

The Art of Storytelling exhibit series celebrates the East Bay’s rich cultural and artistic histories and dynamic changing demographics through multi-generational storytelling and testimonials articulated through a variety of visual media. California Humanities launched this exhibit series in August 2016 in celebration of our first year in historic Swan's Market in Oakland.

The second installation in The Art of Storytelling series features the work of Oakland-based artist and cultural organizer, Favianna Rodriguez. Her art and collaborative projects deal with migration, global politics, economic injustice, patriarchy, and interdependence. These vibrant and powerful pieces help create a dialogue about gender, race, identity, and immigration.          

This exhibit was open from February 16 –April 13, 2017

Please watch a video of the exhibit closing HERE.

Please watch a video of the exhibit opening HERE


The Artist Must Fight
Dimension: 24 x 18 inches
Medium: Limited Edition Screenprint
Year: 2009

This piece was inspired by African-American singer, actor, and scholar, Paul Robeson, who wrote, "The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery." I designed this print in the style of Cuban OSPAAL resistance posters from the 60's and 70's.


Three Women (Yellow)
Dimension: 16.7 x 11.5 inches
Medium: Digital Print
Year: 2014

I named this piece in honor of Nina Simone's song, "Four Women." One of my favorite compositions is to show three individuals, either in profile or facing the viewer. The three characters in this piece embody dignity, fearlessness, and sexiness.


Fight Racism
Dimension: 24 x 18 inches
Medium: Digital Fine Art Print
Year: 2009

This piece commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, celebrated on March 21. On that date in 1960, more than 60 black demonstrators were killed and about 180 wounded by South African police in South Africa.


Dimension: 30 x 20 inches
Medium: Digital Fine Art Print
Year: 2010

This piece centers around the themes of change, transition and goal-setting. The central protagonist is a young woman who is imagining the many possibilities which her future offers her. Her hands are open in a manner that alludes to a yoga pose in which the person is opening themselves up to the universe, as an act of meditation. The open hands also symbolize the many practices that one can do with their hands, including music, art, dance, writing, exercise, typing, building, and reading. In the composition, the central figure is grounded and is imagining herself as a writer and as a singer. Behind her is a circle that represents the planet.


Occupy Sisterhood
Dimension: 18 x 12 inches
Medium: Digital Art Print
Year: 2012

I developed this piece as a response to the attacks on women's reproductive freedom and our right to abortion. Inspired by the leadership of women and queer folks in Occupy, this piece is also a critique of the patriarchy that is alive and well in all branches of our government.


The Worldwide Movement To End Racism
Dimension: 24 x 18 inches
Medium: Digital Print
Year: 2009

Racism and white supremacy are prevailing forces in our society and continue to cause inequality, suffering, and institutionalized violence in communities of color. I developed this poster for the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, March 21st. The characters in the piece are singing and working collectively to combat racism.


Be Strong
Dimension: 12 x 18 inches
Medium: Limited Edition Screenprint
Year: 2009

This piece is about women of color being strong leaders in their community. The shape of the face was hand cut from black construction paper as an experiment. The print is named after one of my favorite Duran Duran songs, "Rio".


Immigration Reform is Central to Women's Equality
Dimension: 5.25 x 12 inches
Medium: Digital Art Print
Year: 2013

Most migrants are women and children, and this print is a call out to feminists to embrace migration as a women's issue.


Freedom. Justice. Voice. Power

Dimension: 17.5 x 12 inches
Medium: Digital Print Reproduction
Year: 2015

Freedom. Justice. Voice. Power...the components of liberation. This piece depicts three empowered people collaborating to transform the world. They move together, because they are more mighty when they are united. They are angry, yet they leverage their emotions to transform their lives. They are thriving despite all the hardships in their path. And they are beautiful, their light is radiant and the complexity of their humanity is limitless. They are fierce, and little by little, they are going to heal our world, with the power of the feminine.


Migration is Beautiful

Dimension: 24 x 18 inches
Medium: Offset Poster
Year: 2013

The monarch butterfly has come to represent the beauty of migration. The butterfly symbolizes the right that living beings have to freely move. Like the monarch butterfly, human beings cross borders in search of safer habitats. Like the monarch butterfly, human beings cross borders in order to survive. This sticker is my artistic adaptation of the butterfly. Each wing shows a human profile. The phrase, "Migration is Beautiful," celebrates the resiliency, courage, and determination of migrants who come in search of their dreams.



Quilts of Oakland

Our first exhibit featured quilts with an Oakland-themed narrative by members of the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland. From the Black Panthers to the fire of the Oakland/Berkeley Hills, these beautiful and detailed quilts help us to understand and visualize what makes up the unique perspective of Oakland.

The Quilts of Oakland exhibit was open from August 25 –December 28, 2016

Please scroll down for a preview of the quilts that were on display. 

Please watch a video of the exhibit opening HERE.

Please watch a video of the exhibit closing HERE


Niambi Kee
Oak town Blues
41 x 26 Inches
Oak town Blues represents the many cultures, ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic groups that call Oakland “Home,” as does its distinctive and recognizable skyline.


Rosita Thomas
Power to the People
40 x 45 Inches
The Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland 50 years ago. This quilt is a tribute to some important, but less well known facts about the Black Panther Party, their community survival programs and 10 Point Platform.


Marion Coleman
37 x 42 Inches
Firestorm interprets the fire that occurred in the Oakland/Berkeley, CA hills in 1991.


Ora Clay
Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame
35 x 43 Inches
The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Inc. (BFHFI) and its co-founder, Mary Perry Smith were the inspiration for this quilt. The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Inc. was a program of the Cultural and Ethnic Affairs Guild of the Oakland Museum of California. The BFHFI held a star studded Oscar Micheaux awards Celebration each February at Oakland’s Paramount Theater from 1973 until 2006.


Sew and Sews Mini Group (Patricia Bailey, Blanche Brown, Marsha Carter, Marilyn Handis, Debbie Mason, Norma Mason, Carolyn Pope, Dolores Vitero Presley, Ann Seals Robinson, Julia Vitero)
Oakland There
33.5 x 71.5 Inches
There is no There There is the famous misquote of famous author Gertrude Stein
(1874- 1946) referring to Oakland, CA

Nearly 45 years after Ms. Stein lived in Oakland she returned to find that Oakland had urbanized and changed from the pastoral place she remembered.  Her house was no longer there, her school was no longer there, her park was no longer there and her synagogue was no longer there. So for her, there was no longer a there there. The quote was merely an expression of painful nostalgia and not a condemnation of Oakland.

The 10 blocks quilt represent Lake Merritt Pavilion, Fairyland Gates, Oakland Tribune Building, Grand Lake Theater, Port of Oakland, Chinatown, view from the Oakland Hills, Woodminister Park, Lake Merritt Walking Path and the Golden State Warriors.


Ernestine Tril
Un Barrio
37 x 37.5 Inches
This piece is inspired by the vibrant life and activity in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, including the business, community services, churches, food and diversity of people.


Marion Coleman
Trail Blazers
37.5 x 52 Inches
This quilt was inspired by the Oakland Black Association parade that is held every October in West Oakland.


Norma Mason
West Oakland Blues and Jazz,
35 x 36 Inches
This quilt celebrates the blues and jazz tradition in West Oakland.  The music brought back the sounds, tastes and smells of “back home” in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

To learn more about the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland, please click HERE.