Bending Towards the Light of the Sun (2018)

Bending Towards the Light of the Sun

August 21 - October 11, 2018

Reception: September 6, 5-8 pm (ArtHop)

Bending towards the Light of the Sun consists of seven weeks of rolling programming that centers the Fresno area as a site of artistic and cultural production. Like the city itself, it sprawls outward, ranging from film screenings to artist publications, archival materials, and installation.

Artists: Maia Ballis, Caleb Duarte, Carissa Garcia, Laguna Collective, R.L. Muas, Sylvia Savala, Christian Vargas, Nancy Youdelman.

Bending towards the Light of the Sun is anchored by archival materials relating to Fresno’s history of activism and art making. Printed materials, photographs, and posters by National Land for People (NLP) and the Fresno chapter of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF) will be in the gallery.


  • Claiming Open Spaces (1995) / Austin Allen’s documentary about communities of color and public spaces. 
    • Screening: Thursday, August 30 at 1 pm
  • California Trilogy (1998) / Experimental filmmaker James Benning’s long slow look at the landscapes of California.
    • Screening: El Valley Centro, Tuesday, September 25 at 1 pm
    • Screening: Los, Wednesday, September 26 at 1:30 pm
    • Screening: Sagobi, Thursday, September 27 at 1 pm
  • In the Valleys: Las Mujeres Muralistas del Valle (2018) / Carissa Garcia’s film about a group of Chicana muralists working in Fresno in the 1970’s.
    • Screening: October


Christian Vargas, detail from Tianguis, 2018, mixed media installation. Courtesy of the artist.
Christian Vargas, detail from Tianguis, 2018, mixed media installation
Hmong spirit money
R.L. Muas, (e)femmeral intimacies, 2017, Hmong spirit money (joss paper) on wire and canvas, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.
In the Valleys
Carissa Garcia, still from In the Valleys: Las Mujeres Muralistas del Valle, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.
Sun Sage
George Ballis, Sun Sage, 1984, color photograph. 
claiming open space
Austin Allen, still from Claiming Open Spaces, 1995. Video with sound. Image courtesy of Third World Newsreel and Austin Allen;
screen printed poster
NLP screen printed poster. 
Nancy Youdelman, installation shot of Leaves, 1973. Courtesy of the artist.


Confirmed events and gallery activities: follow @art_space_gallery instagram for most up to date schedule.

Week 1: August 21 – 23

An installation by R.L. Muas will be on view. Carissa Garcia’s film In the Valleys: Las Mujeres Muralistas del Valle will be on view. Archival materials: National Land for People and WILPF will be in the gallery, along with photographs and artwork from the personal archive of Nancy Youdelman which detail the experimentation of her early career.

Week 2: August 27 – 30

Screening: “Claiming Open Spaces” by Austin Allen, Thursday, August 30

Week 3: September 4 - 6

Christian Vargas will install his work in the gallery.

Reception: Thursday, September 6, 5 - 8PM (Arthop)

Week 4: September 10 - 13

Caleb Duarte will install his work in the gallery. Laguna Collective will lead students in a zine making workshop inspired by the self publishing activities of NLP and WILPF.

Week 5: September 17 – 21

Laguna Collective Zine, Poster and Risograph Workshop (Part 2). Work will go on view in the gallery. Offsite workshop, Friday, September 21.

Week 6: September 24 – 28

Screening: California Trilogy by James Benning

El Valley Centro - Tuesday September 25, 1pm

Los - Wednesday, September 26, 1.30pm.

Sogobi - Thursday, September 27, 1pm.

Field Trip: Saturday, September 29: Visit to Two Cabins, James Benning’s large scale, permanent installation in Pine Flat, CA.

Week 7: October 1 – 5

Nancy Youdelman – zine release + talk. Date and time TBD. Sylvia Savala will install her work in the gallery.

Participant Bios

Maia Ballis (Fresno, CA) is an artist, farmer, and one of the founding members, with husband George Ballis and Berge Bulbulian, of National Land for People (NLP). NLP was a group active in Fresno and the Central Valley during the 1970’s and 1980’s which fought to retain the family farm model of agriculture through political organizing, photography and self publishing. Ballis’s paintings and collages channel a deep connection between the self, land and environment.

Caleb Duarte (Fresno, CA) is an interdisciplinary artist and organizer. He has created public works and community performances at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, El Pital, Honduras, and throughout Mexico and the United States. Duarte is co-founder of EDELO (a Spanish acronym for “Where the United Nations Used To Be”), an international artist residency in Chiapas, Mexico. He is lead curator of the traveling exhibition ZAPANTERA NEGRA, with Rigo 23, Emory Douglas and Mia Eve Rollow. Duarte earned an MFA in Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago in 2009, and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2003. He is currently an instructor of sculpture at Fresno City College.

Carissa Garcia (b. 1984, Fresno, CA) is an interdisciplinary artist who approaches her work as a storyteller and poet. She considers herself a “greñuda filmmaker”, working on untamed methods of documenting and reversing erasure as a decolonial means of creating and recuperating knowledge. She worked for four years on a doctoral degree and holds an M.A. from the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies at UCLA, as a mentee of Judy Baca. Her research concentrates on the relationship between place and memory for Chicana artists in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley, where she was born and raised. She is currently working on a publication about the erased histories of Chicanx muralism throughout Fresno County and an anthology centering methods of art production and aesthetics of the Central Valley.

Jemimah Barba (b. Manila, Philippines, lives and works in Fresno, CA) and Vicente (b. Madera, lives and works in Fresno) are the founders of Laguna Collective, an independent print and publishing collective based in downtown Fresno. Barba is a queer Filipino-American artist, working towards a BA in Cultural Anthropology at Fresno State University. Vicente is a Chicano artist studying at Fresno City College to become an elementary school educator. Laguna Collective focuses on empowering young artists and artists of color to express themselves through the DIY medium of zines and risograph printing. Laguna Collective will open a store, gallery, and community space in the Fall of 2018 called Daily Market at 1418 Fulton in downtown Fresno.

Renae Moua "R.L. Muas"(b. 1991, Fresno, CA, lives and works in San Francisco) is a first-generation Hmong/American interdisciplinary artist, educator and radical community arts organizer. Muas’s creative practice centers on installation, photography, sculpture, printmaking and new media, and is influenced by the DIY ethos of underground art and music scenes, their upbringing as the daughter of refugees, and their indigenous heritage. Moua received a double B.A. in Ethnic Studies and Sociology from the University of California, San Diego; currently they are an Ethnic Studies M.A. Candidate at San Francisco State University. Moua was Artistic Director at SFSU’s Associated Students’ Art Gallery, and recently completed an Emerging Curator Fellowship with the Asian American Women Artists Association, where they curated the exhibition THANK YOU FOR NOTHING. Currently, they are the Visual Arts Curator in Residence at SOMArts Cultural Center.

Christian Vargas(b. 1986 Fresno, CA, lives and works in Knoxville, TN) received his MFA in painting and drawing at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He received his BA in fine arts from Fresno State University in 2015. Vargas has exhibited in several traditional and non-traditional spaces including shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City.

Sylvia Savala (b. 1947, Clovis, CA, lives and works in Fresno) is a painter, essayist, and poet. Savala is largely self educated as an artist; she was inspired by the example of Frida Kahlo to draw from her personal life and struggles as source for her work, and later studied with Wayne Thiebaud and Alexander Nepote. Her paintings are fluid and gestural with a strong feminist perspective, often commenting on female sexuality and depicting common objects of desire such as shoes or cakes. Savala’s work has been included in exhibitions both nationally and internationally, and her essay, “How I became a Chicana Feminist Artist”, about her creative and personal journey, was included in “Entering the Picture: Judy Chicago, the Fresno Feminist Art Program, and the Collective Visions of Women Artists” (Routledge, 2011). Savala holds an MFA from Fresno State University’s Creative Nonfiction program. Currently, she teaches English at Fresno City College and devotes her life to family, painting, writing, and gardening.

Nancy Youdelman (b.1948, New York, NY, lives and works in Clovis, CA) was part of the first feminist art class taught by Judy Chicago in 1970 at California State University, Fresno. She continued her participation in the Feminist Art Program (1971—1973) at California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, where she participated in the internationally acclaimed project, Womanhouse (1972). Youdelman received her BFA from CalArts in 1973 and her MFA with an emphasis in sculpture from University of California, Los Angeles in 1976. Youdelman has been the recipient of numerous awards including grants from the Pollock/Krasner, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb, and the Tree of Life Foundations. A retrospective of her work was presented by the Fresno Art Museum in 2017.

National Land for People (NLP) was a group active in the Central Valley during the 1970’s and 80’s who fought to enact a sustainable and environmentally sound agricultural future in the Fresno area. Founded by George Ballis, a self described "news reporter, news editor, community and union organizer, still photographer, film maker, organic gardener-farmer, shamanic guide, and teacher," NLP sought to to retain the family farm model of agriculture through political organizing, photography and self publishing, and through the court system. Their archive is held at Fresno State University.

Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF) have been active in the Fresno area for over 50 years. The branch uses resolutions, marches, vigils, letters, lobbying, conferences, and workshops to express its views. WILPF’s aim is to combat the economic, political, psychological, and social causes of war while striving for constructive peace. Their objectives also extend to the elimination of violence and poverty, while promoting racial and women’s justice.