Wayfinder: Clare Rojas
Wayfinder: Clare Rojas is a public art project that encourages visitors to explore the heart of downtown San José. Commissioned by SJMA, 40 streetlight banners designed by Rojas in shades of pink, magenta, and lavender are installed along South Market and West San Carlos Streets. Each banner features a cascade of stylized blackbirds that tumble and shapeshift into abstract, beguiling forms. In the artist’s work, blackbirds appear as omens from the supernatural world. Imbued with mysticism and magic, they caution against hubris and take shape as talismans for luck, protection, and freedom.
Launched in 2021 with the work of San Francisco–based artist Clare Rojas, Wayfinder is a new commissioning program by SJMA that invites Bay Area artists to design streetlight banners for temporary display in downtown San José. The series offers pedestrians, commuters, residents, and Museum visitors continuous access to contemporary art as part of SJMA’s overarching goal to become a borderless museum, essential to creative life throughout the diverse communities of San José and Silicon Valley. Wayfinder reimagines existing streetlight banner infrastructure as a venue for temporary public art, enlivening city streets with cutting-edge art and design.
About the artist
Clare Rojas combines abstract forms found in architecture and nature with figures and motifs culled from folkloric traditions and personal symbolism to create enigmatic and idiosyncratic paintings. She often addresses the relationship between humans and nature and issues of gender and female sexuality by depicting birds that represent mystical and spiritual forces of the natural world and strong, powerful women. Born in 1976 in Columbus, Ohio, Rojas received a BFA in printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, and an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been awarded grants and residencies from Artadia, the Fleishhacker Foundation, Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. Rojas has had solo exhibitions at IKON Gallery, Birmingham, England; Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; and Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, Kansas. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California; Denver Art Museum; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; San José Museum of Art; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. Rojas lives and works in San Francisco.
Operations and programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous support from the Museum's Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Yellow Chair Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the SJMA Director's Council and Council of 100, the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.