Art in the Pritzker Building

Art on display in a waiting area

Photographs from First Exposures young artists on display in the Pritzker Building's second floor waiting area.

To enhance the experiences of the many individuals and families utilizing the Nancy Friend Pritzker Psychiatry Building, a robust art program was created to integrate art into the overall design and experience. The goal of the program is to present art that is uplifting, beautiful, and inspiring, while offering new perspectives and insights

Acclaimed photographer Richard Misrach was invited to serve as the program's primary artist. In addition, a special project was developed in partnership with Bay Area youth arts organization First Exposures to present art made by local youth ages 11-18. 

Together, there are over 150 individual photographs to be discovered on all levels of the building—in public, staff-dedicated, and research and clinical services spaces. These works were selected to elevate and advance the overall mission of the programs and research that are housed in this new facility.

The photographs on display throughout the building by Richard Misrach and the First Exposures young artists are made possible through a gift from the John Pritzker Family Fund.

Misrach taking a photograph

"My career has been about navigating these two extremes—the political and the aesthetic. Art cannot actually solve problems but I do think it's an essential way of communicating with current and future generations." [Photo courtesy Art21]

About Richard Misrach

Richard Misrach (b. 1949) is one of the most influential photographers of his generation. For over 50 years, he has photographed the dynamic landscape of the American West through an environmentally aware and politically astute lens.

In the 1970s, he helped pioneer the renaissance of color photography and large-scale presentation that are in widespread practice today. Misrach has had one-person exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Centre Pompidou (Paris) among others. His photographs are held in the collections of most major institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology.

For this project, Misrach has drawn on his key images of oceans, clouds, landscapes, and vegetation. In addition, he has created six new series of photographs: Bucking BroncoElephant ParableOrange Cloud VariationsShorebreakScrub Variations, and Reef Riffs for Ron.

"A key inspiration for these new series is an homage to a young man I worked with over 50 years ago when I volunteered at Napa State Hospital. Ron, while extremely shy and withdrawn, was an amazing 16-year-old jazz pianist. The way we interacted was primarily by him teaching me riffs by the great jazz pianist, McCoy Tyner. I was so inspired by Rob that I got myself an upright piano and continued to play and taught my son as well. There is a direct line back to Ron, and I am forever indebted to his extraordinary gift and generosity.

Thinking about him inspired a new system of art-making that greatly influenced my work for this building; to use the structures found in music, particularly jazz and classical music, and apply them to the visual arts.

For each of these new series, I took a single image and explored a wide range of lyrical visual variations. Recognizing that we all experience life in in our own unique ways, there is no single image that is the best or correct. In many cases, it might be hard to believe that the images came from the same original photograph. Each is beautiful on its own terms."

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A young photographer pointing their lens at the viewer

UCSF celebrates the talents, vision, and minds of young people throughout our communities. [Photo courtesy First Exposures]

About First Exposures

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences invited the community-based arts organization First Exposures to present the engaging and compelling photographs of their young artists. There are images produced by 33 young artists, seen in the public spaces on floors 1 and 2 of the Pritzker Building.

First Exposures empowers young people ages 11-18 in the Bay Area to thrive, express themselves creatively, and become leaders in their communities. Through a youth mentoring experience, the participants are introduced to photography as a catalyst by which they acquire vital life skills and the vehicle through which they deepen their creative, intellectual, academic, and developmental experiences. While learning to photograph, these young artist are also enhancing their self-confidence, developing their personal vision, and cultivating their passion for learning.

For more information about First Exposures, please visit