Lena Wolff grew up living semi-communally with her family at the Zen Center of Los Angeles in then went to live in Paris and outside of Amsterdam as a young person before returning to the U.S. in the late 1980’s. Based now in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1991, she works in a range of interdisciplinary approaches including drawing, collage, sculpture, murals, text-based pieces, and public art in addition to frequently collaborating with other artists. Her studio practice extends out of American craft and folk art traditions, while at the same time being connected to the modern and contemporary movements of geometric abstraction, minimalism, social practice, Op art and feminist art.
Wolff received a BA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College (1995) and an MFA in Printmaking from San Francisco State University (2003). She has exhibited at the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Headlands Center for the Arts, Needles & Pens, Southern Exposure, Johansson Projects, Traywick Contemporary, CULT / Aimee Frieberg Exhibitions and New Image Arts among other spaces. In addition to private collections, her work is in the public collections of the One Archive, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Alameda County Arts Commission, Stanford University, Facebook, the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Iowa Museum and the Zuckerman Museum of Art. Wolff is the recipient of a Master Artist award from Kala Art Institute and will be honored by the City of Berkeley in fall 2019 for her contributions to the city as an artist engaged in social practice.
Since the 2016 presidential election, Wolff has been actively engaged in several new projects and collaborations developed in response to the threat of the current political moment. She and her wife, artist Miriam Klein Stahl host regular monthly Solidarity Sundays gatherings at their home to engage in community-based activism to resist the policies of the Trump administration. In another vein, Wolff’s first music project FUTURE CHORUS conceived with interdisciplinary artist Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs, developed out of a 2017 residency at the de Young Museum, The Song is Love. Made up an ensemble of over 25 artists, musicians, and friends, FUTURE CHORUS sings unexpected resistance themed cover songs and original arrangements in public and cultural spaces throughout the Bay Area. Wolff also generated a series of widely distributed text-based posters made in collaboration with graphic designer Lexi Visco that are visible in windows across the Bay Area and beyond. The first poser ‘Berkeley Stands United Against Hate’ made in the summer of 2017 has subsequently been printed for ten other cities, followed by a set of ‘VOTE!’ posters in Spanish and English released just ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Over 140,000 of the posters combined were printed at Berkeley’s union print shop Autumn Press over the last two years and distributed across the country.
Lena Wolff lives with her wife, artist and illustrator of Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, Miriam Klein Stahl and their daughter in Berkeley, California. Together Wolff and Stahl have been a steady force in the broader art scene and queer community of the Bay Area, placing their home at the center of social, art and political gatherings for over two decades.
A solo show of new work by Wolff opens at Sarah Shepard Gallery in Marin in late October 2019.