Dara Katrina Del Rosario
Communications & Partnerships Manager
415-863-1414 x103, [email protected]

SOMArts Cultural Center presents

Unbound Roots
Opening reception, Thursday, March 12, 6–9pm
Exhibition run, Thursday, March 12–Tuesday, April 21, 2020

February 12, 2020, San Francisco, CA–The third and final exhibition of SOMArts’ 2019–2020 Curatorial Residency Season, Unbound Roots, seeks to expand conversations on Black wellness practices as collective and personal preservation. Curated by Alie Jones and Toshia Christal, this multidisciplinary exhibition opens with a free, all ages reception on Thursday, March 12,6–9pm.

A $4.2 trillion dollar industry, far surpassing both the pharmaceutical and diet industries, the wellness market has faced its share of criticism. From its lack of diversity to appropriation of indigenous healing practices, to economic barriers of access, this growing consumer market has transformed wellness into the latest luxury commodity synonymous with whiteness. In contrast, practitioners of color have always crafted spaces that prioritize community safety and healing while recognizing the impact socio-political structures have on historically marginalized bodies. These spaces invite participants to imagine a livelihood beyond survival, embracing the possibility of flourishing and thriving through holistic wellness.

“As the universe provides us with everything we need to heal ourselves, the most important task is in this life is absorbing knowledge, application of such and the reciprocation of that wisdom,” expresses Toshia Christal

Jones and Christal affirm that healing practices are grounded in ancestral lineages, nature, and meaningful relationships, challenging dominant market-driven narratives of wellness. By evoking the metaphor of the tree to explore and expand discussions on intergenerational healing, Unbound Roots holds space for Black community members who have been conditioned to believe that healing was not for them.

“I’m inspired by connectivity in nature. My passion is creating space where we reframe self care as community, not an isolated experience. I would like to encourage attendees to embrace curiosity, get out of their own boxes, and learn something new,” shares Alie Jones.

Keneda Gibson and Bushmama Africa proclaim self and collective love as an act of freedom and liberation through their respective practices. Photographer Kyle Malanda explores the intersections of mental health, intergenerational trauma, and tribalism in an increasingly globalized, digital world. Painters Cori Nicole Pillows and Damon A. Powell draw from their relationships to spirituality and healing to provoke conversations on justice and self-determination. Tiffany Conway’s brush techniques emphasize the power of softness, while unmasking myths of strength directly impacting Black women.

shah noor hussein’s multimedia approach centers modalities of play, magic, and healing, and 2AM utilizes Afrofuturist aesthetics and principles to create large scale installations and murals. Artist and educator Marnika Shelton’s The Dual Compensation Series discusses the devastating impacts of toxic masculinity and sexual shame. Kristen Mays, whose wire pieces are recognized throughout the Bay Area, uses material and form to trigger memories our bodies carry. Kalima Amilak’s multimedia installation TEMPLE realigns the body with nature, becoming a place to remember our holiness.

The free, all ages opening reception titled Acceptance centers the healing of the African diasporic community on Thursday, March 12, 6–9pm. The special evening program features curatorial remarks, music by DJ Black, an interactive art walk, blessings by Bushmama Africa, and  cypher facilitated by Najee Amaranth where guests are invited to get on the mic and share a poem, a song, thought, or response to the exhibition. Guests are encouraged to wear green, signifying love, growth, renewal, compassion, balance, and harmony.

Pleasure Pt. 1: Anti Social Social Dinner on Thursday, March 26, 6–9pm expands discussions around Black wellness, community, and self care with performances by Ladi Rev and DeMareon Gipson. Curators intentionally ask that participants wear shades of gold to signify richness, wisdom, enlightenment, self-worth, success, abundance, and to illuminate the practices and powers of our ancestors.

Dinner will be provided for this intimate exhibition program. There is a maximum of 40 participants for this free, all ages event and RSVP is required.

Liberation rounds out the exhibition programs on Thursday, April 16, 6–9pm. Featuring performances by vocalist Indigo Mateo and Aïma The Dreamer, the closing program inspires intentional play and body movement—to wiggle, dance, and be unbound. Free and all ages, the curators invite guests to wear shades of purple representing harmony of mind and emotions, connection to higher consciousness, transformation, royalty, and imagination.

Accessibility Information
SOMArts Cultural Center is located on 934 Brannan Street. The main entrance can be found down the driveway, which is wheelchair accessible, however, the pavement is uneven. SOMArts Cultural Center is a low scent environment, service animals are welcome.

Exhibiting Artists
Adrina Fanore & Davis Northern
Aïma Paule
Alaska Jenkins
Alie Jones
Bushmama Africa
Candice Antique
Cori Nicole Pillows
Damon A. Powell
Derrick Bell
Lamar James
Jada George
Jordi Phi
KaliMa Amilak
Keneda Gibson
Kimani Goheen
Kristine Mays
kyle malanda
Marnika Shelton
Olka Baldeh
Queens D. Light
Rha Bowden
shah noor hussein
Shani Ealey
Tajianna Okechukwu
Toshia Christal
Tiffany Banks
Tiffany Conway

Alie Jones
Toshia Christal

Public programs are free and all ages unless otherwise stated

Unbound Roots
Curated by Alie Jones and Toshia Christal
Friday, March 13–Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Unbound Roots opening reception presents Acceptance
March 12, 2020 6-9pm
Opening reception and celebration featuring curatorial remarks, music by DJ Black, an interactive art walk, blessings by Bushmama Africa, and cypher facilitated by Najee Amaranth.

To learn more, visit:

Pleasure Pt. 1: Anti Social Social Dinner
March 26, 6–9pm
Intimate dinner expanding discussions around Black wellness, community, and self care with performances by Ladi Rev and DeMareon Gipson. RSVP is required.

To learn more, visit:

Unbound Roots presents Liberation
April 16, 2020 6-9pm
Featuring performances by vocalist Indigo Mateo and Aïma The Dreamer, Liberation inspires intentional play and body movement—to wiggle, dance, and be unbound.

To learn more, visit:

Berkely High School
Berkeley High School is a comprehensive four-year school serving approximately 3000 students. BHS is unique in that it is the only public high school in a community of over 100,000. Drawing from a diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic population, students embrace a broad spectrum of people and ideas.

The Plant Exchange
The Plant Exchange is a community organization that encourages resource sharing, reuse, and recycling.  Our annual free Plant Exchange event brings over 1000 community members together, and throughout the year, we host several events that support Oakland’s designation as one of the greenest cities in the country.

SOMArts Cultural Center, founded in 1979, cultivates access to the arts within the Bay Area by collaborating with community-focused artists and organizations. Together, we engage the power of the arts to provoke just and fair inclusion, cultural respect and civic participation.

SOMArts plays a vital role in the arts ecosystem by helping activate the arts citywide. We do this by providing space and production support for non-profit events, as well as fairs and festivals throughout the Bay Area, and offering a robust program of art exhibitions, classes, events and performances that are affordable and accessible to all. SOMArts’ exhibition programs receive critical support from the San Francisco Arts Commission and The San Francisco Foundation, and are sponsored in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts.

SOMArts is located at 934 Brannan Street—between 8th and 9th—within 2 blocks of 101, I-80, Muni lines and bike paths.
For public information call 415-863-1414 or visit Stay connected by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


Image credit: Adrina Fanore, Astral, film. image courtesy of the artist.

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