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Crosscurrents

The subtlety of our surroundings

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By Amy Snyder
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Zarouhie Abdalian

Oakland-based visual artist Zarouhie Abdalian makes art work that examines how people interact with their surroundings. She spoke to KALW’s Jen Chien about using “unremarkable materials” to create memorable experiences for the viewer.

ABDALIAN: This piece basically has three elements: the plastic owl—just a garden owl from the hardware store— an open window, and this pre-recorded music.

You can experience Abdalian’s “Functions” Thursday, December 10 at 7pm (18+ only) or Sunday, December 13 at 2pm at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, where she’s artist-in-residence.

Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.