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Image of a woman standing and smiling in a plaid jacket on the Presidio Tunnel Tops with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

Mar 1, 2024

Art in the Park: Q+A with Artist Tosha Stimage

Oakland-based multi-disciplinary artist will bring a new art installation to Presidio Tunnel Tops.

Tosha Stimage is an Oakland-based multi-disciplinary artist who uses a variety of art mediums to examine how we create language. Her paintings, collages, installations, and floral sculptures
“use experimentation to re-contextualize physical material and histories with fresh perspectives.”  

As the founder of SAINTFLORA, a full-service floral design company specializing in “unconventional flower experiences”, Tosha is also a local entrepreneur and the third and final artist within the Presidio’s Public Art Mentorship Program. In June 2024, Tosha created and installed a large-scale art installation to transform the space between the Presidio Transit Center and the enclosed Picnic Pavilion at Presidio Tunnel Tops. This installation is now on display.   

“Flowers put us back in the ‘circle,’ and connect us to labor, land, and each other,” Tosha shared as she began developing her art installation. I’m incredibly excited to explore the flora of the Presidio and use it to spark curiosity and fresh perspectives. Nature provides an accessible and inclusive entry way for dialogue around complex social and environmental topics.”  

Tosha and Artist and Presidio Activator Favianna Rodriguez at Presidio Tunnel Tops

Tosha worked with Artist and Presidio Activator Favianna Rodriguez, who helped open Presidio Tunnel Tops in 2022 with the powerful, colorful art installation, Ancestral Futurism: Looking Back to Repair the Future. The following year, Favianna collaborated with and mentored artist Felicia Gabaldon for the second installation Iconic Visions. For the kids who visit the Presidio, the art murals have become platforms for imagination and play. The art also prompts discussion and learnings about biodiversity, climate change, colonialism, and the repressive history of the Presidio. 

We took a walk with Tosha through the Presidio and spoke with her as she and Favianna prepped for the art installation. 

Woman exploring a Toyon berry bush with her back to the camera
Tosha exploring the Presidio’s natural world.

How would you like your art to spark conversations and ideas around making the Presidio a more welcoming and inclusive space for all people? 

I think curiosity is one of the best tools for engagement. My practice in art is led by my curiosity, and by extension engages people who are also curious and are wanting to find ways of satisfying that curiosity.  

I also come from a background focused on flora. Whether it was when I was a kid growing my first fruit in my mothers’ garden or using plants as an adult to create art in one of the most pivotal points of my life, nature has been a core thread through all my art.

By leveraging these two concepts in my installation for the Presidio, people will be able to engage with the art – whether it’s on a personal level as they stumble upon it at the Transit Center, or collectively if they learn about it in a workshop setting at Crissy Field Center. By providing multiple entry points for exploration in my art by leveraging plants in the park to spark curiosity, I will not only engage with people in a more inclusive way, but I hope to also spark conversations about how the Presidio can be more welcoming and inclusive for all people. 

Two women, Tosha and Artist and Presidio Activator Favianna Rodriguez, standing and smiling on the Presidio Tunnel Tops with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
Tosha and Favianna.

What would you like to get out of the mentorship part of the program? 

I really just want to be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as possible.

Back to the previous concept I mentioned, curiosity is something that serves a lot of purposes. I appreciate the approach of not coming in and thinking you’re the center of whatever knowledge is, but rather thinking of knowledge as a super stratified universal thing where there are many centers. I want to open up to new ideas that aren’t my own and experiment with concepts that I’m not familiar with. The mentorship is part of that experience – by connecting with someone’s knowledge, I’m hoping that by virtue of suspending my own judgement and just being present to what that person is offering, I can help expand my own thinking.  

Tosha with Favianna and representatives from the Presidio’s Community Partnership team.  

What’s your experience with and connection to national parks prior to this project? 

I honestly can’t say I had much connection to national parks before this. The only actual experience before now was in Colorado back in 2011. I had moved there to work at a nonprofit and was able to visit the continental divide of the Americas. It was an unreal experience seeing the snowcapped mountains at such high elevation levels and the vast descents of the mountain range.  

The experience in the Presidio will be quite new and really exciting for me. The difference now is that I’ll have resources, more time and space to be in nature in a way I’ve always wanted to. It feels great that I’ll be able to share that exploration with other people through my art.

A group of women, Tosha with Favianna and representatives from the Presidio’s Community Partnership team, standing on the Presidio Tunnel Tops deep in discussion.

What kind of impact do you hope your art will have on people? 

I hope it will open people up to new perspectives and make them curious about narratives they didn’t know existed simply because there hasn’t always been space made available for those narratives.  

The thing I love about working with nature is that it provides an easier and more accessible entryway to talk about more complex human topics. It’s not always easy to jump into complicated topics, especially considering that everyone has different perspectives and experiences. But nature is a universal tool for talking about those things. Nobody is going into nature to feel antagonized. Again, there’s something in the work I do that leverages curiosity and enables people to be more open with each other. 

Tosha’s art installation will be available for everyone to explore and enjoy this July – be sure to come out to Presidio Tunnel Tops to experience it for yourself. 

Superbloom art installation by Tosha Stimage.