Largely marginalized communities got their chance in the spotlight — or rather, on the canvas through Associated Students, Inc.’s latest art gallery.
ASI kicked off a memorable evening at the “Conscious Collections Opening” Thursday in the University Student Union Art Gallery.
For the month of April, ASI wanted to compile art from specific communities such as students of color, women/trans/non-binary folks, undocumented students, students with disabilities and environmental advocates.
The room was loaded with paintings, illustrations and photography from 23 students, each telling a personal story, describing their backgrounds and passions.
Emely Lopez, third year liberal studies major chose to use her platform to voice her passion for education. Her illustration showed a group of students coming together on a school bus to depict a celebration of the power of education.
“This evening means so much to me because I’m able to showcase my three passions: education, community and youth,” Lopez said. “Each artwork tells such a personal story that is relevant in our society. I’m grateful for the opportunity to tell mine.”
Artist wore colored ribbons around their neck throughout the night to set themselves apart and make it easier for attendees to identify them.
Fourth year psychology major Mlou Aquino stood within a few feet of her artwork throughout the night while talking to people about her inspiration and posing for pictures with friends. Aquino’s piece consisted of two poster papers covered with ‘90s themed television characters taking up every inch of the surface.
“I think it’s awesome that so many different types of communities are being represented,” Aquino said. “It’s amazing to share this platform and have a voice about your own opinions with everyone else. A lot of the work that I do is mostly about expressing my identity. I like to center my drawing around ‘90s cartoons which I did in this art show, mainly because most students here can relate and put themselves into my work to relive childhood memories.”
The energy throughout the night was celebratory, with LED lights illuminating dark corners of the room and jazz music playing as visitors trickled in and out.
Students who participated in the event were given the opportunity to share their stories and different experiences by the means of art. By giving these individuals a platform to inspire and connect with other students of various backgrounds, ASI hoped to broaden attendee’s perspectives on the social groups featured in the show.
“Art is huge in representation because through art we have the power to shift conversation, to mobilize people and organize a community to fight for justice,” Gaby Hernandez, ASI’s Commissioner of Undocumented Students said. “It’s important to remember that every story matters. If you express your artwork you have a voice.”
For some students, this was their first time participating in an art show and and experiencinging what it means to brand themselves as an artist.
About 100 family members, friends and visitors came to support as they strolled around the gallery, viewing the art and treating themselves to finger foods and mocktails. Attendees were asked to share stories of battles and accomplishments such as students who struggle with undocumentation in their family and have come out transgender.
Third year psychology major Carlos Rivas, who is part of the disabled community, was inspired by the amount of dedication and hardwork that the artists put forth to share their personal stories.
“I heard about this event because I have a friend who is being recognized and I came to support,” Rivas said. “I love how powerful these portraits speak to me and how I can relate to most of them.”
“Conscious Collection” will be on display in the USU Art Gallery through Thursday. It is available for viewing from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.