Arts & Life, Events

Art by the community, for the community

A collection of artwork from veteran, LGBTIQ+, international and wellness communities will be unveiled Thursday evening in the University Student Union Art Gallery & Student Lounge as part of the Conscious Collection.

The exhibit was organized by Associated Students, Inc.’s cabinet, who wanted to create an art gallery with a social justice theme, according to Chief Diversity Officer Yasmin Elasmar.

“Our goal is to highlight artists and showcase the intersectionalities of these and other communities,” Elasmar said.

Approximately 14 artists will be featured and utilize different mediums such as sculptures, paintings, photographs and poetry.

The gallery opening will include mini cupcakes, mocktails, an open mic and piano opportunities and an introductory speech from 3rd District Councilmember Suzie Price.

According to Communications Director Antonella Schaug, Price is scheduled to speak about her experiences with student government while attending Cal State Long Beach.

Following Price’s speech, students are encouraged to view the art on display. Spoken word and live music will also be performed intermittently throughout the event.

Typically, students and alumni hoping to be featured in the USU art gallery send applications and a photo sample on BeachSync. For this particular gallery, student government representatives reached out to specific groups to create artworks for this event, rather than the typical monthly rotation of a single student’s work.

The emotions and themes illustrated in the students’ artworks vary from pain and fear to love and passion.

Chloe Kim, commissioner of wellness affairs, described the themes of some of the art submitted from the wellness community in an email.

One piece described was Lisa Choe’s illustration, “Beautiful Life” which is meant to show the beauty of life from a grandmother and a baby holding hands.

“Goodbye Bad Memories” by senior student Haru Shafer is a powerful representation of psychological cleaning of negative self-talk using vibrant colors and strong imageries,” Kim said.

Junior communications major Joseph Samudio is one of the featured artists representing the veteran community. He submitted 10 photos to the gallery which he took while deployed in Afghanistan.

“I’ve heard a lot of positive comments about my photos,” Samudio said. “I was shocked.”

Sean Aquino, commissioner of LGBTIQ+ affairs, said that the Conscious Collection is giving marginalized communities of students a platform to teach their peers about their struggles and interests.

“One submission in particular I saw a lot of growth,” Aquino said. “Other than growth, I would just have to say that there’s a lot of self-expression.But I see a lot of growth and forward moving.”

From the LGBTIQ+ community, Aquino said that one piece of art is a personal project for the artists and depicts “coming out.”

“I think students really need to realize how much creativity and how much talent there is on this campus,” Aquino said.

Creating a social justice themed gallery was inspired by the idea of promoting “art created by the community/art created for the community,” Kim said.

According to Elasmar, ASI is planning to put together a “part two” of the gallery in the spring semester to include minority communities that weren’t included this time around such as undocumented students, people of color, and those with disabilities.

The Conscious Collection will be available for viewing at the USU Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to midnight through Jan. 31.

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