Beyond Belief
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Loss and Redemption: Art as a metaphor for replacing exile and loss with the possibilities of redemption.
Lighting your way
This work is one of a series of light string pieces the artist created after his partner died of AIDS. The mundane materials used in this piece symbolically may be understood as a reflection on the inevitability of death: a light bulb has a limited life span just as we do, and the light is an especially potent symbol of vitality. But according to the artist’s instructions, the owner has the choice of exhibiting the light string with the bulbs on or off, and if the bulbs burn out, they may be replaced, introducing hope and suggesting the natural cycle of loss and renewal.

In addition to commenting on the ritual of tending to the memory of a lost loved one, Gonzalez-Torres described this work as evocative of the transition from one world to the next. He elaborated: “It is related to the act of leaving one place for another, one which proves perhaps better than the first.”
Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Felix Gonzalez-Torres
“Untitled” (America #1), 1992. Lightbulbs, porcelain light sockets, and extension cord. Dimensions variable. Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, fractional and promised gift to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.
Philip Guston
Philip Guston
Red Sea; The Swell; Blue Light, 1975. Oil on canvas. 73 in. x 237 ½ in. Collection SFMOMA, purchase through the Helen Crocker Russell and William H. and Ethel W. Crocker Family Funds, the Mrs. Ferdinand C. Smith Fund, and the Paul L. Wattis Special Fund. © Estate of Philip Guston. Photo: Ian Reeves.
Beyond the Sea
After decades of success as an abstract painter, Philip Guston left that world behind in order to tell stories through his art. In Red Sea; The Swell; Blue Light, Guston evokes the central story of his Jewish heritage, the biblical crossing of the Israelite slaves through the Sea of Reeds (commonly known as the Red Sea).
Bay Area monologist Josh Kornbluth, whose new world premiere show Sea of Reeds reimagines the Biblical Exodus through his own personal journey, reflects on Philip Guston’s painting and the Sea of Reeds (or Red Sea) as a creative metaphor.
Tasbih, 2011. Wood, gold leaf, ink, and leather; 1 1/2 in. x 692 in. Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase. © Zarina Hashmi, courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York. Photo: Farzad Owrang.
Something to Hold On To
The Indian-born artist Zarina Hashmi, known professionally as Zarina, is perhaps most celebrated for her woodblock print series Home Is a Foreign Place. Moving from country to country as the wife of a diplomat, Zarina began to fuse the story of her travels with the arc of her artistic practice. She has recently created sculptures of oversized Muslim prayer beads, called tasbih, inspired by her childhood memories of counting and restringing her devout aunt’s tasbih after it broke.
What brings you comfort in times of loss?

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