sfai news

April 19, 2013

Guggenheim Fellowship Awarded to Visiting Faculty Chris Sollars

In its eighty-ninth annual competition for the United States and Canada, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has awarded a Fellowship to Chris Sollars, a Bay Area resident and visiting faculty member in the San Francisco Art Institute’s New Genres program. The Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships are amongst the most prestigious fellowships in the arts world, and this year were awarded to a diverse group of 175 scholars, artists, and scientists. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants.

Artist Chris Sollars’ work revolves around the reclamation and subversion of public space through interventions and performance. The results are documented using photographs, sculpture, and video that are integrated into mixed-media installations.

“I am honored to received this Fellowship and am very excited about the opportunity to take more time to devote to my work over the next year,” stated Sollars. “I will be focusing a lot of time on ‘Pacific Tackle’, through which the Pacific will be tackled physically and conceptually as I enact performances on land and in water to have direct and immediate interaction with a public audience.”

In 1996 Sollars’ studio practice moved into the street to engage a public audience. His interdisciplinary work navigates the unsettled liminal space between cultural norms, conditioned by his upbringing as a straight man raised by lesbians in the 1980s. Sollars’ process is physical and conceptual as he juxtaposes dissimilar elements to create unexpected forms that are often comedic.

Sollars has exhibited and performed solo and collaborative works in venues nationally and internationally, including MOMA, Southern Exposure, and Steven Wolf Fine Arts, all in San Francisco; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; The New Children's Museum, San Diego; Berkeley Art Museum; Soap Factory, Minnesota; Franklin Street Works, Connecticut; Kroswork, Oakland; Smack Mellon, Brooklyn; Southern Machine Exposure Project; Tokyo; and the Aurlander International Airport, Stockholm, Sweden.

Sollars’ work is in the collections of the Berkeley Art Museum, Mills College Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum, and Miami Art Museum. His honors include the 2007 Eureka Fellowship Award, 2007 San Francisco Bay Area Artadia Grant, 2009 Headlands Center for the Arts residency, 2012 Center for Cultural Innovation Investing in Artists Grant, and a 2013 San Francisco Arts Commission: Individual Artist Commission Grant. His work has been featured in articles and reviews in the New York Times, BOOOOOOOM, Huffington Post, Juxtapoz, Contemporary Magazine, Daily Serving, CameraWork, Art Net, Flash Art, and San Francisco Arts Quarterly.

In 2008, Sollars completed C RED BLUE J, an experimental documentary feature that used his family to illustrate the complications of division during the 2004 Presidential election. C RED BLUE J screened at SFMOMA on Election Day and was included in CREATIVE TIME’s Democracy in America show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. A catalog of his Left Behind 2009–2012 photo series of public sculptures by Publication Studio, including an interview by art historian Jennifer Gonzalez, will be released in 2013.

Born in Indianapolis in 1976, Sollars grew up in Maine before earning a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from Bard College. Based in San Francisco since 1999, he is also director and curator of 667Shotwell, an experimental space in his home for artists to do time-based works.