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625 Sutter Gallery

Vittoria Zupicich – Between People And Architecture

Artist Reception May 7th, 5:30-7:30pm


When we consider architecture as more than just structure and shelter, but rather as the creation and definition of the spaces we inhabit, then the human element becomes an integral part of the overall picture. This intersection has become the focus of architectural photographer Vittoria Zupicich, whose photo series “Between People and Architecture” investigates how we exist and interact with our urban surroundings, and the symbiotic relationship that is so easily overlooked in our daily lives.

“In my work, I emphasize the abstract qualities of the locations and engage in a further evaluation of how people perceive and interact spontaneously with the surrounding urban environments of our time,” explains Zupicich. “The individuals in my images become a part of the geometric composition and convey a sense of space and scale, while breaking the linear quality of the highly designed composition.” As architecture defines the spaces we inhabit, it also sets the stage for our interaction with the space itself. We become participants in the realization of an artistic construct, as hallways, stairways, corners, and levels direct our movements and shape our indoor surroundings. At the same time we provide the context for the space, and the raison d’être for the structure.

Born and raised in Italy, Vittoria Zupicich was exposed to art at an early age. Her father was an avid art collector and photographer, who encouraged her artistic development and fostered her appreciation and love of the artistic process. An early childhood illness kept her in bed for several months, and during this time she filled the idle hours with drawing and painting. Zupicich began her formal art education at the Academia di Belle Arti, Pietro Vannucci in Perugia, where she took her first darkroom photography class while working towards her bachelor’s degree in painting and fine arts. She later enrolled in the graduate program at Academy of Art University’s School of Photography, where she completed her MFA in 2013. Today Vittoria Zupicich lives and works in San Francisco as a freelance photographer.

Cannery Suite 108

Qianhui De – Kirei

Artist Reception May 7th, 5:30-7:30pm


As satellite imagery and mapping becomes more and more common, our default perspective of the world increasingly shifts to the aerial view. Embracing this trend, and our resulting familiarity with aerial imagery, Qianhui De’s “Kirei” explores the physical world through an innovative process-driven approach that remains rooted in a tangible organic landscape presentation, working with traditional media and aesthetics in an unconventional way.

“I seek to explore the breath and fluidity of paint,” says De. “My work investigates the relationship between abstract shapes without narrative form.” Stripped of the convenient cues of sky-mountain-field-water, the scope and scale are left open to interpretation. A single image might read as an aerial mountainscape, cracks in an ice floe, or microscopic organisms in a puddle. By forcing paint to move under pressure beneath folded plastic sheets, De mimics actual geological forces, creating ridges, rivulets, and pools that suggest the organic and geological forms we identify with landscapes. Presented in a vertical format, rather than the traditional horizontal, the paintings force us out of the accustomed terrestrial viewpoint and set us in an orbit, scanning vertically as we seemingly look down from unknowable altitudes.

Qianhui De was born and raised in Shenyang, China and entered the Neoclassical Oil Painting Studio at the Luxun Academy of fine Art in 2012. After achieving a foundation in figurative art, De decided to study abstract art through the MFA program at Academy of Art University, and is expected to graduate in 2015.

Cannery Suite 110

Runwen Chen – Once in White

Artist Reception May 7th, 5:30-7:30pm


The elements of everyday life stories, people, environments, and objects, provide the inspiration for Runwen Chen’s painting series “Once in White.” Exploring the artistic borderland between the worlds of abstraction and realism, she combines traditional oil painting techniques with a modernist approach, seeking out a balance between interpretation and representation that speaks to a universal audience.

“It is an innocent zone between entities and abstract,” says Chen. “It’s approaching to itself is to imply abstract themes by using entities, and to abstract the entities simultaneously. In this neither material nor abstract realm, entities are about volatizing but kept their forms; the abstract partly became material but kept abstruse.” By alternatively simplifying figures and backgrounds, Chen directs our focus exactly where she wants it to go in order to direct our assembly of the narrative elements at the her heart of her artwork.

Born and raised in Harbin, China, Runwen Chen studied science in high school but later went on to study New Media Art and Design at Beijing University, where she earned her BFA in 2010. She then enrolled in Academy of Art University and completed her MFA in Painting in 2014. She has studied with a number of prominent artists, both in China and the United States, and has worked towards crossing the border between representative and expressionistic styles. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions and is represented in private collections. “Once In White” is her debut solo exhibition.

Cannery Suite 112

Johnnie Chatman – Salton Sea

Artist Reception May 7th, 5:30-7:30pm


The Salton Sea stands as a powerful testament to the results of inadequate planning, created when poorly engineered irrigation canals failed, depositing the entire volume of the Colorado River into a dry lake depression for two years. Johnnie Chatman’s photo series “Salton Sea” examines the stark remains of a century’s worth of neglect and careless abuse of the natural environment. Once a popular resort destination, increased pollution and agricultural runoff fouled the water to the point at which entire fish populations died on the beaches, creating intolerable stink and spawning hordes of flies. People fled and the tourist economy collapsed, leaving the abandoned landscape to slowly decay over the following decades.

“As an explorer to a new world” says Chatman, “I sought to re-imagine and provide a narrator for the unwritten story of those that lived there, traveling the terrain’s many crevices in order to get a better understanding and grasp on the impact man had on this place in the world.” Amid the detritus and decay, Chatman highlights the poignant juxtaposition of the vast unnatural body of water, the largest lake in California, incongruously lying at the center of a lowland desert. At the same time, he captures the elusive beauty of nature that endures in the face of all adversity, the quiet calm that survives in the wake of destruction.

24 year old photographer Johnnie Chatman grew up in the southern California suburb of Claremont and began taking art classes with local fine artist Elizabeth Preston. At Chaffey University he discovered photography as fine art, and transferred to Academy of Art University, where he is currently working towards his BFA in Photography. His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and publications, including a solo exhibition at the Claremont Forum in 2014.

Cannery Suite 104

Leili Estaki – Eastern Garden

Continuing Exhibition


Tradition and spirituality were always integral to Leili Estaki’s upbringing in Tehran, Iran. Moving to the United States introduced her to diverse cultures and lifestyles, which sometimes conflicted with her views of God and religion. As a result, Estaki’s inner sense of peace and harmony was challenged, and in response she strove to rediscover her earlier connection through art, looking inward to revive her lost sense of peace. Her photographic series “Eastern Garden” is the culmination of this quest.

“Eastern Garden is a collection of images that unites God and human creations, magnifies their beauty, and echoes the meditating peace, which is otherwise ignored or lost in our daily mechanical life,” says Estaki. “This series embraces three representations – flowers, patterns, and light – to depict and display my spiritual experience and my source of tranquility.”

Leili Estaki moved to the United States in 1997. She received her BA in General Art from California State University, San Jose in 2006, and her MFA from Academy of Art University in 2014. Through her education she has developed her signature style of incorporating still imagery with alternative processing and mixed media, all of which is greatly influenced by her family, her birthplace, and her religion. Eastern Garden is Estaki’s debut solo exhibition.

435 Jefferson Gallery

Academy Showcase

Continuing Exhibition


AAU Galleries’ newest exhibition space is now open, featuring recent works by student and alumni artists Ian Powell, Keisha Mrotek, Yu Wen, and Neon/Fine Art Sculpture Professor Bill Concannon. Located at The Cannery, you’ll find the new gallery out along Jefferson Street, where a whole new audience can discover our awesome artists!