Empathy: Beneath the Surface

October 18, 2019 to March 29, 2020

We recognize the courage, strength and resilience of our community as we remember our collective loss during the tragedies of November 2018. As we reflect on this shared experience, it is vital to remain connected as a community.

Artists of international and national renown have accepted CMATO’s invitation to present a multi-disciplinary perspective on the idea of empathy and personal agency. Diverse and eclectic, these artists epitomize today's varied and changing contemporary art landscape while emphasizing the universal bonds that connect us all – loss, resilience and hope.

Empathy: Beneath the Surface is a call to connect with each other through the fundamental component of community – understanding and recognizing the thoughts or needs of another. Taking action, whether it’s working on prevention through social change, preserving our natural world, or consciously connecting with the people around you through a simple smile, eye contact or even a kind word, can make a difference.

As you will discover, the artists in this exhibition exemplify empathy for their subjects who have all lost something. Loss is an emotion that we can all relate to, however it’s an empathic understanding of others, that will continue to take us through the joy or the pain in the journey ahead.

- Lynn Farrand, Senior Curator

This exhibition is generously sponsored by the Annenberg Foundation, Karen Dean Fritts, Ph.D., and John Shwope, Mark Sand Construction, Thor Electric and Macerich.



One of the most prominent Chinese-born American artists working in the United States today, Hung Liu’s art explores themes of memory, history, endurance and cultural identity through works that navigate the life-long experiences of immigration and homecoming. Trained as a socialist realist painter and muralist in her native China, she lived through the Mao regime and personally experienced the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. During the Cultural Revolution, she worked in the fields for four years, while clandestinely making photographs and drawings of what she saw there. Her works have been exhibited nationally and internationally, and are in the collections of SFMOMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Asian Art Museum in SanFrancisco, among others. Liu is a professor emeritus in the art department at Mills College.


Renowned painter and tapestry designer, John Nava, whose seminal series of tapestry panels, “The Communion of Saints,” grace the interior of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. In his Neo Icons series, politically charged portraits speak on the freedom of expression, personal agency and the empathic message of being heard. Nava’s work is found in numerous private, corporate and public collections throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, including the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Hawaii, and the Triton Museum in San Jose, California. 


Fine art photographer Marjorie Salvaterra, whose cinematic, black and white depictions of women combine glamour, humor and the mundane to make powerful statements about the roles women are expected to play and how they cope. Her highly acclaimed monograph, HER: Meditations on Being Female, traces the psychology of age and gender while challenging notions of femininity and perfectionism. Salvaterra’s solo exhibitions include The Griffin Museum of Photography, JDC Fine Art (San Diego), Clark-Oshin Gallery (Los Angeles) and Month of Photography (Los Angeles). She was named one of LensCulture’s top 50 Emerging Artists. 


Multi-disciplinary artist, curator and Building Bridges International Art Foundation co-founder Marisa Caichiolo, whose visual work encompasses video art installation, painting and sculpture. A native of Argentina, Caichiolo explores the problems and complexities of identity through the construction of symbolic worlds, often using the human body, clothing and skin as metaphors. Her works have been showcased internationally in Brazil, Mexico, France, Spain, Japan, Korea, China and Argentina as well as nationally in New York and Los Angeles.


South African-born painter and sculptor, Simphiwe Ndzube, whose large-scale, mixed-media collages address life in post-apartheid South Africa but carry the universal relevancy of resilience and hope. Ndzube’s work is characterized by a fundamental interplay between objects, media and two-dimensional surfaces, stitching together a subjective account of black experience through representations inspired by the Zulu working class dance tradition of “swenking”. His solo exhibitions include Galeria Nicodim (Bucharest), Stevenson Gallery (Cape Town) Nicodim Gallery (Los Angeles), CC Foundation (Shanghai), and Museo Kaluz (Mexico City). He is the winner of the prestigious Tollman Award for the Visual Arts and was named one of the rising Los Angeles Artists to Watch in 2019. 


Fine artist, Tom Everhart, whose larger-than-life paintings straddle the line between the comfortably familiar and a new way of seeing. As the only artist allowed to use the Peanuts™ characters in his art, Everhart utilizes the instantly recognizable image of Snoopy, Linus and other characters to communicate a new sensibility – one that is at once accessible and exotic. His limited-edition print program has been popular in North America and Asia since the mid-eighties, and Everhart’s paintings on canvas have been exhibited in Museums and galleries worldwide, including the Louvre (Paris, France), Museu da Cidade (Lisbon, Portugal), Suntory Museum (Osaka, Japan), and the Charles M. Schulz Museum (Santa Rosa, CA). 


American filmmaker and National Geographic magazine photographer, Ami Vitale, who has traveled to more than 100 countries to witness and photograph civil unrest and violence in addition to capturing the beauty and enduring power of the human spirit. Vitale’s Panda Love – documents the efforts to breed pandas and release them back into the wild. She donned a panda suit to capture amazing insight into the bears’ lives in sanctuaries and their natural habitat in China. With only around 2060 pandas living in the wild, the giant panda is considered vulnerable of extinction. As pandas reproduce so infrequently, it is very difficult for their population to recover from such a low point. She will exhibit photos and a virtual reality (VR) film that will transport museum visitors to Africa to meet a community that is dedicated to saving a herd of orphaned baby elephants. Vitale is a five-time recipient of World Press Photos, including First Prize for her 2017 National Geographic Magazine story about elephants and First Prize for her work with giant pandas. She is a founding member of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of scientists, writers, photographers and filmmakers with a mission of creating powerful stories illustrating the very specific issues women in developing countries face.



Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Scroll to Top