A Song For Us

Alabama / Coltrane (detail)A new collection of collaborative work
by Joy Liu and Robert Trujillo

On view September 2013
Addison Street Windows Gallery
2018 Addison Street between Shattuck and Milvia
Berkeley, CA 94704

A Song For Us is a collection of papercut art inspired by six wistful songs: Miles Davis’ “Blue In Green”, Ali Akbar Khan’s “Two Lovers”, Lhasa de Sela’s “El Desierto”, Nina Simone’s “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”, John Coltrane’s “Alabama”, and Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”. Incorporating illustration and traditional papercutting, the two Oakland artists explore loneliness, loss, struggle; and our capacity for love, forgiveness and renewal.

Each of the six musical compositions have been translated into delicately layered landscape portraits, vignettes of sounds, sentiment and space which have stayed with the artists through the years. Like the songs themselves, the pieces weave together line, pattern, space and form the way a musician combines melody, timing, phrase, and rhythm.

Sometimes we play music to forget; sometimes to remember. It is often in empathizing with others’ experience of pain that we allow our own selves to feel pain, and in doing so open our souls for healing and forgiveness. Art can serve as a mirror to society, reflecting our pain and revealing our blind spots. It gives us a landscape in which to experience, express and make sense of our world. So while injustice and destruction continue to shape our lives and histories, constantly imploring us to give up, to be inured to suffering, and disillusioned by power, art can keep our eyes open and hearts softened. The artists are both driven by love — and the insistence that we need to address the anger, disappointment and frustration, but also create and celebrate our own stories of uplift. To conjure creative solutions. To reflect the beauty, resilience, and ingenuity of our people in addition to the struggle. These pieces, like the powerful songs and musicians that inspire them, motivate the artists to keep going, to love, reflect, praise, forgive, and to dream. They encourage us to listen for the bent notes and melodies in our own lives, to pause, to feel, to imagine with renewed hope, and to stay open, curious and inspired.


If my words don’t come together
Listen to the melody
Because my love is in there hiding…

— From Leon Russell’s “A Song For You” (as sung by Donny Hathaway)


This exhibition is sponsored by the Civic Arts Program of the City of Berkeley in cooperation with the Civic Arts Commission. For more information, including exhibitions and purchases, contact:

Greg Morozumi, curator
Robert Trujillo, artist
Joy Liu, artist

Civic Arts Commission, City of Berkeley