A large part of my arts practice is informed and shaped by the environments, spaces, and communities I’ve lived in and travelled through, including my native island of Oah’u in Hawai’i. I’ve always been inspired to create meaningful spaces for cultural dialogue, and work collaboratively with communities to create impactful projects, which I have strived to do as the Artistic Director of B4BEL4B Gallery in Oakland for the past four years.

In my personal arts practice I have used 3D modeling, augmented reality, websites, and textile design to tell stories that speculate on how we can reimagine the past, present and future. I’m interested in our relationships to our technologies and how they both come from and shape the environment, and focus on these stories in my work.

Prototyping materials for workshops in Kyiv. Photo by Tiare Ribeaux.

I’m excited for my arts practice to evolve next month as I travel to Kyiv, Ukraine, and lead workshops and community projects in partnership with IZOLYATSIA, a dynamic arts organization focused on cultural and social change. I have been inspired by the youth-driven “Made in Ukraine” movement where Kyivians have revitalized and cultivated a strong and unique identity. Through conversations I’ve had, Ukrainian culture and identity is a multi-layered and complex topic that shifts between generations and is interwoven with the political and geographical landscape and the ecology of the land.

Focusing on cultural identity and environment, I will be giving workshops where participants will consider how to use speculative thinking and designing towards prototyping cultural spaces and objects for the present and future. We’ll consider material ecology, design fiction and storytelling through exercises where we think about redefining boundaries, radically refiguring space, transforming damaged landscapes, collaborating with the environment, and how culture and ecology are inextricably intertwined. We’ll also use digital tools to express individual cultural and personal identities.

Portrait of Sabrina Heavin, Ukrainian-American. Digital image by Tiare Ribeaux.

As this will be my first time teaching workshops in another country, I am looking forward to being both a student and teacher while I am there! I hope to provoke conversations and inspire people to create work that is meaningful to them that they will continue to build upon after my exchange.

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