My Mother's Maiden Name Opening Reception

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My Mother's Maiden Name Opening Reception
Curated by: Tanya Gayer

1131 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
June 5th - June 29th
Opening: June 8th 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM

(415) 8633-7668
Wed-Sat 2-6 and by appointment



Curated by Tanya Gayer

Exhibition Dates: June 5 - June 29 2019

2nd Saturday Exhibition Reception:June 8, 2019, 7-10pm

Exhibiting Artists: Terry Berlier, Michelle Bonilla Garcia, Kira Dominguez-Hultgren, Joty Dhaliwal, Sarah Lee, Kim Miskowicz, Margaret Nobel, Yetunde Olagbaju, Mimi Onuoha, Julien Prévieux, Deborah Stein and tamara suarez porras

What is your mother’s maiden name? Who was your first kiss? Banks, credit card companies, and social media sites utilize password security questions when users sign up for an account online. If the user forgets their login information in the future, they can retrieve access to their account by answering these security questions correctly. If one cannot remember their password, surely they can be asked to remember their first kiss in order to regain access to their account. But what are the implications of this protocol? The security questions utilized by corporations realize a subtle system that hinges on potentially harmful emotional triggers and notions of inadequacy. Within this system, corporations attempt to standardize beliefs, knowledge, and values that dictate when and where personal history is trusted to formulate identity and security.

My Mother’s Maiden Name analyzes this governance of individual history seen in security questions and implements this question and answer protocol as a precedent to discuss online authorship, culture-construction, and systems of knowledge. The selected artists take a considered approach to the fragility of memory and identity amongst digital data noise to account for information that cannot be quantified through such constructs like security systems.

Exhibiting artists evaluate elements that are not concrete in text, visible data, or public, and instead entrench themselves in the emotions and values that come with answering a security question or using an Apple-patented gesture, for example. These actions tell important histories and beliefs that go beyond what is typed, selected in a drop down menu, or tracked via wifi. My Mother’s Maiden Name confronts this regulation of bodies to reveal requisite activism, awareness, and dialog to make changes to systems that shape identity and culture in facilities that are otherwise untraceable.


Root Division is a visual arts non-profit in San Francisco that connects creativity and community through a dynamic ecosystem of arts education, exhibitions, and studios. Root Division's mission is to empower artists, foster community service, inspire youth, and enrich the Bay Area through engagement in the visual arts. The organization is a launching pad for artists, a stepping-stone for educators and students, and a bridge for the general public to become involved in the arts.

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