SERENITY: One with Nature (2023)

SERENITY: One with Nature (1)

The Serenity series art exhibit at the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health

San Francisco Women Artists (SFWA), curator for the art exhibitions for the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health, selects works by SFWA Member Artists throughout the Bay Area. SFWA's artists are creating and exhibiting work that will enhance the healing environment of the Women's Health Center, engaging and uplifting visitors, practitioners and staff. The exhibit changes three times a year and is displayed on five floors of the Women's Health Center. Each of the selected artists display a body of work related to the exhibition themes on their respective floors.

Now in it's 15th year, the "Serenity" series continues to provided opportunities for local artists working in all mediums - with a focus on positive, healing and uplifting artwork. Since 2007 more than 180 Bay Area artists have participated in this show.

A presence in the San Francisco art community for over a century, SFWA supports, empowers, and expands the representation of women artists. They continue their commitment to diversity and encourage aspiring artists at all stages of their careers. "With the understanding that wellness is a holistic ideal, we acknowledge the transformative power of art as a core belief of SFWA. Art inspires, produces profound insights, and can serve as a healing force." - San Francisco Women Artists

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Renee Van Leeuwen


Renée van Leeuwen is a figurative painter from the Netherlands, who moved to San Francisco in the summer of 2020 with her husband and two sons. Although formally trained as an Industrial Design Engineer, she started painting children’s portraits about 10 years ago, while working a full-time job in the Netherlands. It wasn’t until she moved to Panama with her family in 2015 that she decided to pursue her childhood passion of drawing and painting full-time. Renée has studied egg tempera portrait painting in the Netherlands and oil painting at UC Berkeley Extension. Her current body of work consists of oil paintings on canvas and wood.


From an early age, Renée always felt a strong connection to nature and especially birds. A lot of her work is inspired by the lush, tropical rainforest and the colorful birds of Panama. Now, embraced by the beauty of the Bay Area, she continues to draw inspiration from the local flora and fauna on a daily basis. In her work she hopes to bring a piece of nature into your home and to help create awareness of the beauty of nature that surrounds us, which is both healing and precious.

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Holly Wong


Holly Wong lives and works in San Francisco, California. She was educated at the San Francisco Art Institute where she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts. Holly creates installations and mixed media works on panel, integrating non-traditional approaches with more traditional sewing techniques associated with the history of women. She has been awarded visual arts grants from the Integrity: Arts and Culture Association, Barbara Deming Memorial fund, the George Sugarman Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, and a Gerbode Foundation purchase award. She has had over 70 group exhibitions and 10 solo exhibitions. She is represented by SLATE Contemporary Gallery in Oakland, California, and is a member of SFWA Gallery in San Francisco, and A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.


It is a privilege to create work for the Serenity exhibition “One With Nature.” I think of the function of art in this healthcare setting as a respite for patients, a place of peace and spiritual uplifting. With that intention, I was inspired by the Greek Goddess Psyche, who was known to represent the soul. In these mixed media works on wood panel, I collaged drawings in graphite that had been overlaid with gouache and candle smoke. I then added polyester tulle netting that I had sewn through with various colors of thread. The drawings have an aspect of nature and grounding and speak to rock formations and gems. The netting is the metaphor of the spirit or Psyche that takes flight. These works emphasize that despite the challenges of our circumstances, there is always the potential for freedom and transformation.

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Judith Thompson


Judith Thompson is a San Francisco-based Mixed Media Artist. She majored in Art in College and also studied at Ecole des Beaux-Arts and La Sorbonne, in Paris. Later in life she attended Architecture school at California College of the Arts. While attending Architecture School, she worked as an Architectural Illustrator. Over the years, in between career and family, she sporadically pursued her interest in painting and drawing. Now she is enjoying a return to making art full time and set up her studio in Telegraph Hill overlooking the San Francisco Bay.


Judith’s work consists of layers of paint and paper applied intuitively to the canvas and sanded back to reveal images that reflect an emotion, a memory, or a thread of common experience. A peek into the layers might evoke a story of a peaceful simpler time: Bird song in our back yards, picnics in parks, or even walks through imaginary cities or forests. With no agenda for what the piece will ultimately say, she follows the direction her art leads her. Using images, colors, shapes, and textures found in nature, she uses her art to connect us with the beauty and tranquility of our natural world. Judith has exhibited in many shows and her work is in collections nationally.

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Helene Sobol

Helene was born in Norway and came to San Francisco via Paris, Brussels, and Honolulu. While working for the
Norwegian State Department at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, she met her future husband, Samuel Sobol,
a U.S. Army doctor. They moved to San Francisco in 1974 where Sam completed his training in Cardiology. After
retiring from the Army in 1987, he joined the faculty at UCSF where he was the Director of the Cardiology Faculty
Practice. Helene received her B.A. in Art History from UC Berkeley in 1976 and in 1979, opened Images of the North,
a gallery specializing in Inuit art on Union Street in San Francisco. Drawn to photography from a young age, she
now combines fine art photography with graphic design, including designing books and catalogs. A collection of her
photographs was on permanent display in the Cardiology Clinic at 400 Parnassus until the Clinic moved to Mission
Bay. Helene enjoys nature and travel photography and exhibits her work at SFWA and in shows with Nordic 5 Arts.

Always looking for special moments and unique compositions, I want to capture a mood in time and place. Whether
abstract or representational, I enjoy recording the moment when light, form, and composition merge to create a
captivating image. My first photographs of bark featured close ups of a eucalyptus with a display of colors I had never
seen on a tree before, and a palm where the leaves came together in a particularly eye catching V-shape. The bark
offered not only striking colors and bold shapes, but a variety of intricate textures - an irresistible and magnificent
photographer’s canvas! “Skin Deep - The Beauty of Bark” was first exhibited at the Helen Crocker Russell Library of
Horticulture in the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. My Bark Series is my personal ode to the beauty of nature.

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Wo Schiffman


Wo Schiffman is a third generation SF Bay area-based artist trained in oil, ink and encaustic painting. She pursued her art education through concentrated atelier art study in Scandinavia, Japan and the US (Art Students League of NY, Cleveland Institute of Art and SF State). Her inspiration is drawn from sailing and traveling across six continents. Wo’s work has been exhibited in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, Australia, and Scandinavia. She has pieces in the permanent collections of The NY Hall of Science Museum, The Hosby Kunsthall Print Museum (Sweden), The Museum of Encaustic Art and is currently on exhibit in the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art. Her work is carried by the Atlantic Gallery in NY, the Alessandro Berni Gallery in NY & Italy, Lane House Art Center in New England and the SF Women Artists Gallery in SF and in Mendocino. Wo’s studio is in the ICB Art Building in Sausalito, California.


My art practice is inspired by the natural landscapes I encounter in my travels. Observing land and water patterns from the Arctic Circle to the Great Barrier Reef has inspired my art practice. I work with ground pigments made from botanicals and minerals suspended in walnut oil, beeswax and acrylic medium to expand and abstract these vistas. Exposing the shifting colors of our planet is central to my art practice. My goal is to deepen our experience of our natural world through an expanded color palette.

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