Artists Beyond Boundaries (ABB) is an organization of visual artists working to bring about social and ecological change through art and education. ABB was founded in 2016 by San Francisco Bay Area artists Pamela Blotner and Mie Preckler.
The founders began working together in 2016, when they joined forces to convene a workshop and exhibition in Myanmar entitled “Artists Beyond Boundaries, Yangon.” Nine years earlier, Blotner had curated an exhibition in Yangon entitled “The Burmese-American Art Exchange” that gave Burmese artists a safe space for discourse and exhibition, away from their repressive military government’s intervention.
The ABB Yangon project contrasted works by artists who had lived and worked under dictatorship with works by those who’d come to artistic maturity during Myanmar’s transition to democracy. It also broke ground by including exhibitors from six different ethnic regions, eight of whom were women. The exhibition and accompanying presentations were followed by a 5-day collaborative open studio session held at a local art studio called Pansodan Scene. The event provided a venue where artists, art students and community members could exchange ideas and share processes. The project became a paradigm for Blotner and Preckler’s future endeavors.
Upon their return from Myanmar, ABB organized “Speaking Out: 9 Myanmar Artists, an exhibition and collaborative workshop at Gallery Route One in Point Reyes, California and Abrams Claghorn Gallery, in Albany, California. These exhibits featured the work of nine Myanmar artists and highlighted the struggles the country was facing under the military regime. The project included a screening and discussion of filmmaker Jeanne Hallacy’s documentary “Sitwe. “
In 2018, ABB began work on “Myanmar Artists Speak Out” a project that drew upon Blotner’s work as a US Arts Envoy to Burma and Preckler’s extensive art workshop experience. Working through the American Center at the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar, the artists convened studio workshops in Mandalay, as well as Sagaing and Monwya, both remote cities and homes to minorities in central Myanmar. Working with local leaders and artists, ABB held hands-on workshops for young adults, who had had few educational and art-related opportunities. The workshop participants created individual and collective art works on pressing social issues affecting their communities. Many of these art works were later displayed at the US Embassy’s Jefferson Center in Mandalay.
ABB hopes to return to Central Myanmar and other “less-travelled” areas in the country to work with youth on social and political art projects. In the meantime, ABB is engaged in a locally-based, multi-faceted project entitled “Mapping the Wild.” The mixed-media exhibition and installation, which we hope to hold at Gallery Route One in Point Reyes Station, California in the near future, records and depicts the habitats, maintenance and restoration of five threatened and/or recovered animals living in the Point Reyes National Seashore. We are researching, observing and making drawings of the Point Reyes Mountain Beaver, Tricolored Blackbird, Elephant Seal, River Otter, and Snowy Plover, which are currently under observation or protection by the Park Service of Point Reyes National Seashore.
While many people are aware that these animals are, or were once endangered, few know about the restoration and preservation efforts of biologists, park rangers, and wildlife activists, and how the community and the public can play an important part in the ongoing success of this endeavor. “Mapping the Wild” will tell the story of this mission and educate—and, hopefully, inspire—the public to join similar efforts to preserve and protect other imperiled species.
Pamela Blotner & Mie Preckler
Curators, Artists Beyond Boundaries