Viceral Responses: Local Artist Rebecca Haseltine

What a rare delight: I looked and I saw what I normally felt.

“Can I record experience accurately rather than “realistically?” asks Rebecca Haseltine in her 1990-2004 artists statement.  “The body experienced is a very different body from the one that we can see with our eyes. This process of questioning perception seems to tap into a collective body and a collective mind with infinite guises and expressions.”

I spent the morning in Rebecca’s Hunters Point Shipyard art studio, which looks over the old industrial navy yard and out across the bay to Alameda.  She has worked as a studio artist in this shipyard for twenty-two years.  Because of the transfer of the Shipyard to the city of San Francisco and extensive remediation work, she moved into a new building just four months ago.  Her studio is like a breath of fresh air, and is a welcome balance to the more tightly contained environment of the city.  It is freshly painted white and is clean as can be, with expansive views “as though you’re looking off the bow of a ship,” she says.

Ms. Haseltine’s art speaks to that which language only translates.  She often draws with her eyes closed, with both hands and with a heightened awareness of her inner movements, mapping her direct experience of being alive, embodied in the world. The result is work that I could not help but have a visceral response to.

Rebecca is a lean, energetic, intense and curious woman.  She walks quickly.  She lives in a cottage hidden in the heart of the Mission, surrounded by flowering trees.  Her love of sailing, kayaking, adventuring and dancing comes out in her strong, grounded and directional movements.  She is both accessible and self-contained.  As she drove us along Ceasar Chavez St. and through the Bayview, she spoke about the non-linear ebb and flow of the time she spends working as an artist and the time she spends working as Certified Body-Mind Centering practitioner.   The two are distinct, yet as I listened to and watched her speak, it seemed to me that without either the other simply wouldn’t exist.

“I’m so happy you’ve created this,” she wrote to me in an email about We Are=Movement.  “Movement continues to be my life and it does continue to feel like a shadow occupation/preoccupation.”   It was a striking sentence to read, coming from a woman who has so profoundly affected the lives of those she works with.  Drawing upon her extensive training in anatomy, physiology, education and developmental pathways, Rebecca has worked for over 15 years with children with cerebral palsy and other special needs.   Eleven of those years were at the Bridge school in Hillsborough California, teaching creative movement and art to children with severe physical and language impairment. “The intent is to encourage and guide a child to expand his or her ability to move fully, to attend to–rather than avoid–impairments, and to find new pathways,” she explained.   She also works with adults and teaches workshops in BMC and Somatic Drawing in the Bay Area and throughout Europe.

Rebecca’s work will be loaned by the artist to hang at 3344 24th St. for our pop up launch event.  She will exhibit prints from her Body Is A Book series and a drawing from her body of work titled “Inner Pourings.”

Come see and experience for yourself:
Rebecca will be holding a presentation titled “The Brain is a Part of the Body” as part of the We Are=Movement Lecture Series.  4/24, 7pm   3344 24th St.
Watch Rebecca’s practice in our “Practice Gallery” 4/23, 8-10am.
Visit Rebecca’s studio during SF Open Studios:  4/28 & 4/29  11am – 6pm in Bldg 101, studio #2118
Read more about Hunters Point Shipyard Artists at http://shipyardartists.com/history/history.html