Explorers of the invisible, working intuitively, pushing our connections with the present and past, S.E.M. collective is a trio of US-based artists who came together during the pandemic via a virtual residency. Our search is for the embodiment of art making as world making, offering our audience intimate experiences with our art.
The formation of S.E.M. was a direct reaction to the dissolution of exhibition spaces and artist opportunities during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Reacting to the fragility of the current structures in place to support artists, S.E.M hopes to create alternative ways for artists and art lovers to connect and share work during this time when connection feels scarce.
the real artists behind S.E.M.
Sarah Nguyen is a multimedia artist, based in Columbia, MO working primarily with paper. Storytelling is central to her hand- cut fiber panels and paintings.
Eden Radfarr is a digital, 3D and performance artist based in Albuquerque, NM. Often working with digital and physical found materials, she uses recombination, juxtaposition and disorientation to create other-worldly encounters.
Mami Takahashi is a visual artist from Tokyo, currently based in Portland, OR, who uses photography, performance, installation, and urban intervention to explore the visible and invisible complexities of living in the US as an outsider.
“If it is a human thing… to put something you want, because it’s useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag … and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a container for people… if to do that is human… then I am a human being after all.”
- Ursula Le Guin, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction
Our remote collaboration provides a mutual support system in the form of ongoing shared practices while also revitalizing our individual artistic practices amidst the pandemic. Since our formation in March of 2021 we have established shared audio journal and mark making practices, ‘discovered’ the alternate reality from whence we emerged, and created artist books, art cards, soundscapes, ‘muzik’ videos, ‘translated’ poetry and this website. Key elements of our collective practice include experimentation, playful risk taking, archive building, digital interpolation and creating connection across distance. In addition to our hand-making practices, we use various software that employ algorithmic processing and AI tools to combine and manipulate the raw material we generate. This includes familiar image and audio processing tools, translation software, title generators, image sonification tools and more. These tools, especially when applied multiple times or in layers, introduce elements of chance,error and surprise that alter and abstract the content of the material, allowing it to function as symbolic mirrors.