One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions for the word “collective” is “involving all members of a group as distinct from its individuals.”
There may as well be a picture of Macro Waves next to that sentence.
Macro Waves is a Bay Area art collective, composed of six artists – Robin David, Jeffrey Yip, Thavin Rajanakhan, Dominic Cheng, Tina Kashiwagi and Joshua Icban. All except Yip and Rajanakhan are SF State alumni.
David traces the birth of Macro Waves back to 2015, when they put together a visual art and music exhibition called Terra Incognita in the Tenderloin National Forest. There was no name at the time. All they knew was that they wanted to create a multi-disciplinary art show that “made the group feel like one,” David said.
“Jeff, what do you always say?” David asked.
“Cohesive and symbiotic,” Yip responded.
“In  I was yearning for community,” David said. “The art scene is so competitive and I felt disconnected.”
The friends became a professional collective for two main reasons — a passion for building community and a feeling of being left out.
“As people of color, we understand marginalization,” Yip said. “We like to use our space to give others opportunities as well.”
Yip’s statement was evident throughout their latest exhibition NVM (never-mind). Focused on the relationship between technology and mental health, Macro Waves held four events during the exhibit’s display period — an opening reception with an interpretive dance performance, a crystal therapy and sound healing workshop, a panel discussion and meditation session, and an artist talk about mental health.
The members stated that NVM was the most socially conscious and engaging exhibit they’ve made so far, They emphasized how important it is that each member has a unique discipline, because there is a wider range of ideas and more “cross-pollination,” as Kashiwagi put it.
The collective believes that their ability to combine varying art forms is what makes their work unique.
The group is democratic in its decision-making process, and they yield control of certain projects to the members that handle them best.
While some may be unfamiliar with the creation of an element for an exhibit, everyone is eager to help. Kashiwagi and Rajanakhan said they learned how to sew in order to help create parts of NVM.
The suppression of the ego is evident when speaking with Macro Waves. “Every time we do a show people ask, ‘Who did what?’” Yip said with a hint of disgust. The collective wants the work of the whole to outshine the work of the individuals.
Macro Waves has also unintentionally taken on the role of being leaders for people of color. Rajanakhan and Kashiwagi pointed out that despite the prevalence of artists of color, there aren’t many people of color in positions of power.
“We want to use our backgrounds to empower others,” Rajanakhan said.
“As people of color, we feel like we now have a safe space,” Kashiwagi said in regards to Macro Waves exhibits.
The members were quick to point out that although they want to give people of color more opportunities to express themselves, everyone is welcome at a Macro Waves exhibit.
“Without community, there is no us,” Yip said.