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A Weed By Any Other Name

A Weed By Any Other Name

Liz Hernández and Ryan Whelan

Weeds, generally described as “unwanted” amongst the foliage, can be unusually persistent in the most neglected spaces. In this exhibition, we consider the humble blackberry, ubiquitous in the Bay Area, a symbol of resilience - a weed by any other name. These modest yet staunch plants hold their power not just in the fruits they bare or the thorns they wield but in what’s beneath the soil. You can cut down the blackberry bush, but with every fracture their intricate root system will generate more plants. This sums up the spirit of the Bay Area - a commitment to do, make, and be, regardless of such intense conditions. Because of the support networks between communities, many people in the Bay Area can thrive. When growth gets chopped down, this underground root system will prevail - hiding in the soil for future generations to utilize. Soil has its limits. When the soil is no longer fruitful, where will the weeds grow? - Liz Hernández and Ryan Whelan.

Liz Hernández and Ryan Whelan live and work in Oakland, CA. Their lives and artistic practices are intertwined, and although they have exhibited together, this commission is their first time showing works made collaboratively. As an inaugural exhibition at the ICA SF, it is fitting that this project reflects an experience felt by many in the Bay Area, particularly artists. The ICA SF is committed to continued support of our shared arts ecosystem by engaging local artists and creating partnerships to deepen the possibility for artists and arts workers to thrive in the Bay Area.


January 21–June 25, 2023


Artist Website & Instagram


Artist Website & Instagram


Courtesy of the artists and pt.2 Gallery.

Liz Hernández is a Mexican artist based in Oakland, California. Her art practice – painting, drawing, sculpture, and writing - is deeply influenced by her memories and surroundings of Mexico City. The subjects she addresses are constantly in flux, but an element always present in her work is the search for something that breaks the normalcy of everyday life. Hernández addresses this desire in multiple ways, from finding greater meaning in domestic objects and scenes to using supernatural elements and symbolism to address themes of modern life.

Ryan Whelan is an Oakland-based artist whose current practice uses abstraction as a means for self-confrontation. He utilizes elemental forms to construct scenes of his inner world, somewhere he feels limitless images are waiting to be discovered. Whelan considers paintings as objects that must react to their environment around them, mirroring the same dynamic ability our surroundings have on us. He does this by using texture as color, often building up gestural impasto layers of paint that construct surfaces that dance with light, making the work an experience that changes as the day goes by.