Founded in 2007 by Celeste Christie and Steven Damewood.
Celeste Christie earned a BA in Theater from UCLA in 2000, and a BFA in Jewelry/Metal Arts from CCA in 2006. She was selected by faculty at CCA for Best of Junior Review and the American Craft Council Searchlight Award. Her solo work focuses on economics, inequality, and preciousness. She has been included in shows at Velvet da Vinci Gallery, 18 Reasons Gallery, CELLSpace, and Rock Paper Scissors Gallery, and was the designer and contributed content towards the Occupied Oakland Tribune.
Steven Damewood graduated from UCLA in 2000 with a BA in English Literature. His writing has appeared in literary journals, and his illustration work has been featured in the Huffington Post. He has been a grassroots activist in Oakland since 2006, where he is currently part of a campaign to raise the minimum wage.
Francois Hughes earned a BFA in Sculpture from CCA in 2007. He became a member of A4DS in 2011. He has shown his work at The Spare Room Project and CSAW Gallery. He is currently an activist recently involved in anti-police-brutality and minimum wage organizing.
Sean Morris joined A4DS in 2011. He is a graduate of UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television, a former Los Angeles Slam Team member, and a contributing writer to music blog The Owl Mag. A native San Franciscan with a photographic memory and encyclopedic knowledge of popular culture, Sean contributes his performance background to organizations that promote diversity and social justice.
Ethan Rafal is an artist and photographer whose work deals with the individual and collective experience of violence, and the ways in which subsequent efforts toward representation inform personal and national mythologies. He graduated from Reed College in 2007, and has been based in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest. He is currently touring the world to support the release of Shock and Awe, a ten-year project examining the relationship between protracted war and homeland decay. This edition takes the form of a journal, and succeeded through community funding and support. He shows at alternative art spaces, and has mentored through Southern Exposure. He joined A4DS in 2011.
Laura Ross is an Oakland-based activist who joined A4DS in 2016.
Jesse Boardman Kauppila is an artist whose work explores photographic and printmaking processes.
Cait Quinlivan works in women's health policy and enjoys helping with polls.
David McCarthy is an activist and illustrator.
2016: "UTOPS: Financial District" at Mission Dolores Park, San Francisco, as part of Southern Exposure's Open House for the Open Engagement Conference.
2015: "MFA Never" (juried exhibition) at Root Division Gallery, San Francisco.
2015: "Bibliagora" (group exhibition) at Gospel Flat Farm, Bolinas.
2012: “Ask a...” a public participatory art project at Oakland’s First Friday Art Murmur.
2012: “Cashing Out” (juried exhibition) at Kala Art Institute, Berkeley.
2011: “Proof” (juried exhibition) at Southern Exposure, San Francisco.
2011: “The Cries of SF” by Allison Smith at Southern Exposure, San Francisco. Participated by special invitation in a performance for the Warhol Initiative Convening.
2009: “The Human Face of Death Row” at Rock Paper Scissors Gallery, Oakland. A4DS collaborated with Campaign to End the Death Penalty to produce a month-long exhibition of works of art from death row inmates, as well as a series of related events. Part of the Rock Paper Scissors Community Collaborations Project.
2008: “The People’s Bank,” a public participatory project as part of Oakland’s First Friday Art Murmur and Street Fair. Also performed at a protest at the Moscone Center, San Francisco.
2008: “First [Inter]act” (group show) at 18 Reasons Gallery, San Francisco.
2007: “Art+Activism” (juried exhibition) at Rock Paper Scissors Collective Gallery, Oakland.
“Allison Smith’s Cries of San Francisco,” Southern Exposure, 2016.
"MFA Never," Root Division, 2016.
"Survival Adaptations," Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, 2014.
2014: Finalists for the Yerba Buena Center’s Residency
2014: ArtSlant Showcase Winners
2012: Awarded $3000 grant as part of Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure program.
“Cries of San Francisco’: Marketplace as Art.” Nirmala Nataraj, The San Francisco Chronicle, July, 2011.
“Artists Transform Downtown San Francisco into Conceptual Marketplace.” Andy Wright, The Bay Citizen, 2011.
"Cries of San Francisco," Heather Smith, Mission Local 2011.
From the inception of Art for a Democratic Society, our primary orientation has been towards public engagement on questions of politics, culture, and art. Our various projects have sought to provoke pointed exchanges that are neither pedantic and leading, nor vague. Instead, we attempt engagements focused on bringing social and cultural topics that are generally discussed in private into the open with a particular interest in the perspectives of misrepresented or marginalized identities and communities.
Through the adoption of faux-bureaucratic personas such as pollsters, public and corporate entities, we attempt to create a disassociation with perceptions of the mainstream and the marginalized and create an atmosphere in which utopian, unconventional, or critical ideas are treated with the seriousness usually reserved for the expressions of specialists and authorities.
We use social relationships as our medium in creative participatory performance in communities and public spaces. We see creating art in the public sphere as a way to increase access to the arts for communities underrepresented in the art world and to open up discussion of artistic and social questions to broader layers of people.