Artist in Residence

Every year since 2012 we offer a residency to an artist who creates work that illuminates the cathedral’s annual theme, amplifying the cathedral’s vision, mission and goals. We have an Artist in Residence program because we believe in the power of art to inspire people and we want to make art accessible to everyone.


 Our 2018 Artist in Residence: Sukey Bryan


This year is the Year of Truth at Grace Cathedral. Our 2018 Artist in Residence Sukey Bryan addressed the truth about climate change through her art.

This summer, Bryan explored the simultaneous power and delicacy of the ocean. Waterfront, her five panel oil painting, brings the viewer in close as the water is shaped and blown apart by the physics of tidal movement, wind and shoreline. In August, the cathedral’s façade came alive with the beauty of clay waves.

Her art brightened the cathedral during the opening Multi-Faith Service of Wondering and Commitment that opened the Global Climate Action Summit in September.

Bryan also worked with the Summer Arts campers and the Community Preschool to create Kelp Forest and Impressions of the Ocean, projects celebrating our oceans for National Ocean Month. She hosted Color Me Colossus, a fun family event where kids created life-size sea creatures in sidewalk chalk.

In 2017, Bryan created Sky Steps for Easter and Earth Day at the cathedral. This work of art robed the Great Steps in sky and cloud, and had a great impact on visitors. Images were widely shared on social media and The Economist magazine seized upon it to illustrate an article about faith, climate change and the upcoming Global Climate Action Summit.

For Earth Day during her residency, Bryan amazed with her installation Water Without, which depicted National Natural Landmark Burney Falls, the Shasta County waterfall that Teddy Roosevelt called “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” cascading down the Great Steps.  For Pentecost,  Bryan installed Fire Within.

Bryan’s work explores the interaction and transformation of natural elements. She is interested in the resonance between the cycles and elements in nature and human experience.

She has a BA in Fine Arts and English from Yale University and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to paint a series of works based on the environments of Iceland and the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. She has been an artist in residence at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Bryan has also created public art installations for Stanford University. She is married to physician and scientist Jim Brooks, has two sons and lives in Palo Alto.


Past Artists in Residence

In 2017, “The Gift” inspired the cathedral’s first spoken word Artist in Residence, Sarah Kay, to write a poem in honor of the theme in addition to presenting and enlightening audiences at a range of exciting cathedral events. 

Sarah has shared her poetry in venues and classrooms around the world. She is perhaps best known for her talk at the 2011 TED conference that has been viewed over ten million times.

Relive her performances with great images and videos on our guide to Sarah Kay’s residency at the Cathedral.


In 2016, the “Year of Home,” artists Benjamin Bergery and Jim Campbell created two light installations during their residency:

Jacob’s Dream: A Luminous Path, an installation of light and moving images currently hanging in the cathedral, was designed to evoke a pathway between earth and heaven, between the visible and invisible. They also premiered Miracle Fragments, a two-night-only light and sound event evoking different Biblical miracles.

Bergery, a media artist and cinematographer, and Campbell, a light artist whose work is in the collections of both the New York and San Francisco Museums of Modern Art, have previously collaborated on critically-acclaimed projects.


In 2015, the Year of Technology, artists Elaine Buckholtz and Floor van de Velde of Nighthouse Studio were invited to be Grace Cathedral’s 2015 Artists in Residence.

Buckholtz and van de Velde explore the medium of light and sound as ephemeral phenomena with the potential to unmask hidden aspects of architectural forms and to activate space. As the Artists in Residence, they premiered their work, Fields of Prayer, an integrative, immersive light and sound installation. They presented several live performances, and several exterior presentations of the installation.

Learn more about Elaine Buckholtz and Floor van de Velde.

Bryant AIR Banner updated

In 2014, the Year of Sustainability, Oakland-based eco-chef, food justice activist and author Bryant Terry educated the community about how a more just, healthier food system supports healthy communities. He also delighted us with vegetarian menus and presentations as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations. Learn more about Bryant Terry.


In 2013, the Year of Music, New York visual artist Anne Patterson produced multi-sensory evenings of visual art and music, collaborating with renowned cellist Joshua Roman and composer and conductor Paul Haas, and created a stunning, music-inspired aerial installation with 20 miles of ribbon, titled Graced with Light. View a film about Graced with Light by Three Bridges West, and learn more about Anne Patterson.


In 2012, the theme was Grace. Actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith became the cathedral’s first Artist in Residence. The premiere of her work in progress, “On Grace,” with accompaniment by cellist Joshua Roman, was presented over two nights in sold out performances.

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