About the Exhibition

Now in its 22nd year, SOMArts’ annual Día de Los Muertos exhibition is one of the most internationally diverse Day of the Dead celebrations in the United States. Founded by beloved San Francisco artist and curator René Yañez, Día de Los Muertos at SOMArts merges traditional altars with contemporary installations, continuing to be a multigenerational gathering of remembrance while affirming the importance of arts & culture in shaping our worlds.

Curated by Rio Yanez and Carolina Quintanilla, Dreams Emerging, Beyond Resilience: Dia de Los Muertos 2021 can be viewed in person Saturday, October 9–Friday, November 5 with the Virtual Gallery launching Saturday, October 9. Artists honor how grieving rituals have shifted in response to the global pandemic. The exhibition reflects on how the past year has transformed our visions of connection, freedom, and healing. After a year of collective isolation and survival, what are we longing for? What becomes possible when we are able to imagine futures beyond resilience?

Meet the Artists

2AM aka Aambr Newsome

2AM aka Aambr Newsome‘s practice sprouted from the seeds of her Afro-Indigenous Roots. She combines stolen histories, vivid painting, and life experiences to curate both installation and assemblage pieces that aid in rewriting the Black narrative. Her work is an offering of truth and love and proposes to celebrate and connect the varying intersectionalities existing within complex Black Identities. Through this work she attempts to refute hegemonized dialogues that surround the Black Experience, by offering a visual archive that heals our past, rejoices in the present, and proclaims peace in our future. 

Adrian Arias

Adrian Arias (American-Peruvian 1961), Is a visual artist, poet, performer, curator, activist, and cultural promoter, who brings together multidisciplinary artists to engage in community projects with messages of social justice, racial equality, climate change, peace, beauty, health, and hope in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has participated in international art events in Venice Biennale, Iberoamerican Biennale, de Young Museum Artist in residence.Adrian uses his dreams as creative initiatives, which he makes come true in performances and community projects, such as his multimedia shows called DREAMS, or most recently Tarot in Pandemic & Revolution, where 24 visual artists and 43 poets from the SF Bay Area have participated.

Alicia Cruz

Alicia Cruz has been providing mental health support to families in San Francisco for the past 20 years. She has been a part of the SOMarts community since 2008. Alicia practices self-healing by mobilizing her community, creating artwork, traveling, and resting. She is raising two young people and trying to shift white supremacy intergenerational trauma so that it does not continue to be passed down to next generations. She hopes her work inspires and moves people into action.

Art Hazelwood

For over 25 years, Art Hazelwood has created politically charged prints, working with dozens of organizations from arts organizations to unions to grassroots movements. Over that period he has consistently been involved with homeless rights, including working with the Western Regional Advocacy Project, where he is the Minister of Culture. In 2017, he received the Artwork as Revolution Award from the Coalition on Homelessness. He taught at the San Francisco Art Institute where he was involved in union bargaining for adjunct faculty and was elected Shop Steward. He was part of the founding of the San Francisco Poster Syndicate, which brings together political poster makers from various levels of experience and backgrounds to create art for activist organizations. He is the author of the forthcoming book Mission Gráfica: Reflecting a Community in Print.


Cente is a queer trans bay area artist of color who is revisiting drawing illustrations through digital media.

Crystal Azul

Crystal Azul is a Queer Xicanx arts educator, brujx plant-magic maker, and interdisciplinary artist and writer. She founded Queer Youth Arts, a youth mentoring arts project that was funded by the Queer Cultural Center for the National Queer Arts Festival (2014), and which became a program at Health Initiatives For Youth in 2015. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including the Passage and Place anthology, As Us magazine, and Black Girl Dangerous. Crystal’s collaborative short film #femmemagic premiered at QWOCMAP in San Francisco (2016), and screened at Wicked Queer in Boston, MA (2017). From 2014-2019, Crystal was a co-organizer of the beloved Magic Makers: Queer Art, Craft, and Healing Fair in Oakland. She participated in the SOMArts Dia de los Muertos exhibition in 2014 and 2016, and the Fruitvale Village Dia de los Muertos festival in 2017. In 2019, her middle school students co-created an installation for the Dia de los Muertos exhibit at the Oakland Museum of Art. You can read some of Crystal’s words in the upcoming zine, QTPOCALYPSE art zine/survival guide.

David Manzanares Tafolla

David Manzanares Tafolla began painting in his mid twenties after a yearlong stay in Mexico City where he studied the craft of painting at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.  Born in the Sioux Nation of Nebraska,  Tafolla migrated to California at the age of 3 with his family.   Tafolla identifies himself as a Indigenious Native American Chicano. His mother Grace, an educator, introduced him to the plight and cause of the Mexican American Farm Workers  in the 1970’s.  During his childhood the Tafolla family would travel to old Mexico searching for cultural identity visiting the archaeological sites of his pre-columbian ancestors. Tafolla’s art is about the intersection of raw energy, heritage, power, and cultural conflict.  The artist utilizes his collective unconsciousness of both his pre-Columbian and Iberian ancestors in his creations employing innovative aesthetic techniques to produce life affirming art.

Elizabeth Addison

Elizabeth Addison is a Berkeley, California-based visual artist, curator, and educator whose works are included in numerous private and public collections. Elizabeth’s practice encompasses printmaking, painting, digital media, and immersive installation. She daily records images on her walks and transforms them into Mandalas of ‘the one… the universe.’ Her work ranges from examining California’s native flora, invasive species, and DNA to Black Lives Matter, the climate crisis, and environmental equity. Elizabeth has exhibited extensively throughout the West Coast and nationally. She is an Artist-in-Residence at Kala Art Institute, Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art’s (NCWCA) Exhibition’s Chair, and a member of both the Bay Area Women’s Artists Legacy Project and WEAD (Women Eco Artists Dialog.)

Ernest Rivera

Ernest Rivera is a native San Franciscan, born in 1941. Ernest grew up in the most culturally diverse neighborhood in San Francisco, named Butcher Town. Ernest Rivera writes, “One of my fondest memories, which still impacts my life today, is as follows: at age 10, I and about 10 other neighborhood kids decided to have a talent show. We needed a stage to perform on and my dad had a stash of lumber in the garage. We put the lumber on a wagon and brought it to an empty lot up the street and began to build a stage. This was the beginning of my first experience with the spirit of neighborhood arts and the recognition of the need for artistic expression.” Ernest Rivera currently operating independently as Ernest Rivera Neighborhood Arts Event Production Services. Ernest Rivera served as Interim Director for Somarts in 1995 and 2007 and retired from Somarts in 2014.

Kate DeCiccio

Kate DeCiccio is an Oakland based artist, educator & creative strategist. Her work centers portraiture for counter narrative, community storytelling & cultural strategy on behalf of abolition and collective liberation. DeCiccio is from Central Massachusetts where she grew up on occupied Nipmuc territory on her family’s 4th generation farm. She is the 3rd generation of her Polish and Italian ancestors and descends from 11 generations of English colonizers. The intersections of creativity, mental illness, addiction and ancestral investigation have  always been driving themes in her art. Before working as an artist full time DeCiccio was a mental health and substance abuse counselor and taught art at San Quentin Prison, St Elizabeths Forensic Psychiatric hospital &  Leadership High School. DeCiccio is committed to repairing the harm of her inherited legacy and working to heal our collective imagination by learning how to stand squarely in truth, accountability, renewed resilience and unknown possibility.

Kristiana 莊礼恩 Chan

Kristiana 莊礼恩 Chan is a first generation Malaysian-Chinese artist, writer, and educator from the American South. Her work examines the intersection of ancestry, memory, and race.  She researches the political, historical, and environmental heritage of the landscape and its material elements, and incorporates their elemental properties into her processes. Working across disciplines, she often uses video projection, archival photography and experimental alternative photographic processes. Most recently, she has been working with wild harvested clay and ceramics. She is deeply fascinated by how the not so distant histories of racial exclusion, erasure, and extractive environmental capitalism lay the foundation for everyday, lived contemporary experiences and contribute to our concurrent crises of violent racism and climate disaster. Her belief is that many of our nation’s problems lie in the roots of our foundation and history. This project seeks to revive and reckon with lost histories and lives, and their implications on race and environment, so that by knowing where we come from, we can envision a new future for ourselves. 

LEXAGON aka Alexa Burell

Alexa Burrell creates collages composed of narrative film, animation and soundscapes that center the Black femme experience. She is best known for her site-specific video and sound installations in House/Full of Blackwomen, an Oakland based collective addressing the displacement and trafficking of Black women and girls. As a trained musician, her visual work is always informed by the logic of melody and rhythm to produce hypnotic afro-surrealist psycho-somatic experiences. She often compares the micro and macro, the scientific and spiritual, and the historical and mythical, to evoke the complexities of coloniality, gender, time travel and black feminist thought.

Lilli Lanier

Lilli Lanier was born and raised in San Francisco. She attended the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and graduated from California College of the Arts in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. Lilli works in a variety of mediums and specializes in large-scale origami portraits. For the past twenty years, Lilli has taught art in public schools, museums, libraries and community centers.  In 2018, she was honored by the Golden State Warriors with the NBA Community Playmaker Award in recognition of her positive impact on the community.

Monique D. López

Monique D. López was born in Downey, CA in 1979. She is an interdisciplinary artist who works in painting, drawing, sculpture and installation. She has a vast experience working with the traditional mediums of drawing and painting, where she experiments with incorporating textile mediums to create mixed media works. She has the ability to work in abstraction and representation which has enabled her to learn many different ways of how to create and manipulate space when working on a flat surface or in the round. López received her BFA in Drawing and Painting from CSU Long Beach in 2006 and her MFA in Fine Arts from California College of the Arts in 2010. López currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

Ozi Magaña

OZI is a Bay Area artist and burrito consumer. He began his love for various art forms at a young age, ranging from comics to cathedrals. This instigated his unrelenting pursuit of being an artist. With the support and love from his friends and family, he continues to achieve his childhood dream of creating a universe of his own. Mesoamerican aesthetics are a huge influence and an important way for the artist to connect to his cultural ancestry. The artist has been interested in combining facets of his own personal history, into the creation of a world as he would like to see: full of heroines and heroes. The work shown is autobiographical.  It is about his friends, his loves, his experiences, his emotions, his struggles, and, most of all, his never ending quest to make cool shit. 

Paola de la Calle

Paola de la Calle is a Colombian-American interdisciplinary artist whose work examines home, borders, identity, and nostalgia. Her practice is a multidisciplinary exploration that ties together her family’s migration, personal memories, as well as historical and political narratives through the use of textiles, printmaking, and collage. Her work has been exhibited in private and public spaces throughout the United States and internationally through public art interventions and installations. De la Calle is a graduate of the New York Foundation of the Arts Immigrant Artist Program in 2019 and is the 2020-2021 Artist-in-Residence at Galeria de la Raza. Her work has been published in The New Farmer’s Almanac, and The Hammer Museum’s Graphite Journal. She has been featured on Hyperallergic’s “A View from the Easel”, KQED’s Rightnowish, NowThis, Vogue Mexico/Latin America, and Vogue US.

Ruth Villasenor

Ruth Villasenor, is a Two Spirit, Chiricahua Apache, Mexican woman.  An early founding member of Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits.  A KQED Local Hero recipient for her work as an HIV Treatment Advocate at NAHC, incorporating traditional indigenous practices & Western HIV treatment. A filmmaker, “Traditional Indigenous Values” a 8min. documentary screened at the Frameline Film festival.  Co-collaborator for the mixed media installation “Two Spirit Voices: Returning to the Circle”  exhibited at the GLBT Historical Society Museum, SF.

Sam Campbell

Sam Campbell is a board member and the drum keeper for the Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits (BAAITS). They have presented at numerous conferences and colleges discussing indigenous and LGBT2s+ rights. They also had the pleasure of presenting a TEDx talk regarding indigenous representation in the media. They are very excited to be apart of this SOMA exhibit and hope it can bring the greater community closer to the two spirit people who are keeping their histories alive. 

The Society of the Smokey Mirror

The Society of the Smokey Mirror values coziness, collaboration, eversion, obfuscation, deep hanging out, and play as an antidote for “professionalized” art spaces and rapid loss of collaborative spaces. We are: Midori a social practice artist who makes interactive, immersive work that examines identity, culture, bodily autonomy, and perception. Dorian Katz is an artist drawing in a sumptuous, cartoony style. Scott Kildall is a new media artist whose work repurposes technology for liberation rather than replication and augmentation of power structures, as often happens without artistic intervention. Rhiannon Evans MacFadyen is an SF-born curator, organizer, and project-based artist inspired by “productive discomfort” and projects that push formal and contextual boundaries and engage symbols, identity communication, and the unseen. Christopher M. Tandy is a Queer anti-disciplinary artist engaged in excavating and sharing lost knowledges; perpetually seeking new thought forms that challenge norms on physical and psychological planes.

Victor-Mario Zaballa 

Victor-Mario Zaballa’s foundation is the living elements of Pre-Columbian, folk art and the oral traditions of  Mexico. His background is, Aeronautic engineering, photography, and musical  instrument making. He seek to express the vivid, dynamic synthesis of the magical and the  concrete, the old and the new realities in which we exist.His Inspiration is the “Toltecayolot” The Toltec synthesis of art, science,  spirituality and social consciousness. Has received awards for traditional feather work and altar making, his  work is playful and contemporary, moving beyond the purely folkloric and  traditional, Incorporating new materials and using new technologies. His work encompasses public art projects such as the BART Station at16  & Mission St. to performing arts, creating and composing for acoustic  instruments based in pre-hispanic models and synthesizers. Performing at,  New York’s Lincoln Center, San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, the  Exploratorium