Can You Keep A Secret?

Muhammad Zaman, We Are All Same Within, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 36″x36″.

Announcing our first exhibition of the year! Can You Keep A Secret? wonders what lies hidden within, strewn around, and unspoken beneath the marks that artists make.

This group exhibition features works by Claudia Carballada, Claudia Mejia-Willett, Katherine Sehr, and Muhammad Zaman.

About the artists

Claudia Carballada is a visual artist with a studio practice rooted in drawing and painting, extending to installation and performance. She is Creative Director for The Discovery Project, an ensemble based in Los Angeles which produces multi media installations for performances. Together with this team, she creates concepts, maintains the role of scenographer, and engages in performance with live painting and drawing. Carballada attended Claremont Graduate University, earning a MFA in 2011. She has guest lectured at Pomona College in figure painting, and taught drawing and figure drawing at Pasadena City College and Coastline Community College. She coordinated gesture drawing/dance workshops and gallery performances while at Pasadena City College. She has exhibited work in numerous exhibitions in Los Angeles and internationally in Italy.

“Integral to my art practice is the process of capturing something formless and bringing structure to it. Intuitive gestural marks translate the ephemeral essence of energy, bringing rythmic life to the work. A codex assembles itself organically and unique to my interpratation of the world around me.”

Claudia Mejia-Willett
“I arrived to the United States in 1966 from Medellin, Colombia. I grew up in Rochester for the majority of my life. I went to a public all-girls high school, Monroe Community College, and then received a Bachelors in Special Education from SUNY Geneseo.

“I worked for several years as a Special Education teacher with the Rochester City School District before beginning my Dual Masters in Special Education and Art Education from Nazareth College. I worked in the same elementary school for 31 years, teaching K-6 students with all types of special needs. The last 10 years of my teaching career, I worked with children with autism. It was incredibly challenging and extremely rewarding. Throughout all the years in Special Education, art was an essential part of my instruction. My students enjoyed creating art almost as much as I did teaching it!

“My life experiences are a blend of my Latin culture, rich with vibrancy, passion, and love; and my American culture, a very different, open approach to life. I have the best of both worlds. I am grateful to be a Hispanic woman, mother, and spouse who lives in a great country. These rich experiences have helped form, shape, expand, and nourish me into the type of person and artist that I am. I am richer and grateful for having both cultures.”

Katherine Sehr (born 1978) is a visual artist who lives and works in Buffalo, NY. She received her BFA in painting from the University at Buffalo in 2000. Her MFA is from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a concentration in print media. In 2008 she was represented at Art Miami by Dwight Hackett Projects (Santa Fe, NM). Katherine was formerly represented by Nina Freudenheim Gallery in Buffalo.

“I make art because I have been an artist since a very early age and have pursued that dream. I started off at around the age of nine as a ballet dancer. I studied dance until I was seventeen. It taught me expression, movement, timing, intuition, and discipline. At the same time I was starting to paint and draw in school. Both art and dance have always been with me. I make art because I’m a performer.”

Muhammad Zaman
“I came to the USA when I was eleven years old. I went to Islamic school and there I learned the Arabic language. I was fascinated by the elegance of written Arabic script. It wasn’t easy for me to integrate, as I was a shy kid, and paper and pen was my escape from solitude and a chance to create my own world.

“My family and I were living on the east side of Buffalo, and in that period it was a difficult neighborhood. There were many passing train cars, and I saw the graffiti on them as a unique color of the area. Very soon, the graffiti became a source of inspiration for me (even if I never did any illegal graffiti). They were beautiful, bright signs in a very gray situation. As I grew up I began to understand the history and ideas around the practice of graffiti, so I thought to try it with Islamic calligraphy. The media were spreading a poor image of Muslims, and this pushed me to try to do something good to give back to my community and to show to the rest of the world the positive side of a misunderstood culture. In the beginning Hassan Masudi was my inspiration, and then with the internet, I had the chance to explore this world of art and culture I was so interested in. I found many artists around the work who were making artworks similar to the concepts I had in mind. This is how I began to practice calligraphy, make paintings, and share my work with the people I love and my community in Buffalo. I’m thankful and almost surprised at the reception my works have received, because I still am that shy weird kid with a pen and a notebook.”