Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

Iconic childhood toys provide more than meets the eye

While reminiscing over their childhoods, Long Beach State illustration majors Sarah Massie and Crisselle Mendiola thought about the iconic toys that defined their youth.

From Bratz dolls to Furbys, seniors Massie and Mendiola believed childhood toys served as a nostalgic look into the past, and they brought this concept to life in the dual gallery, “Show + Tell” featured at the School of Art galleries in the Fine Arts Buildings on campus between FA3 and FA4.

Inspired by the idea of toys transformed into artwork, Massie approached Mendiola to collaborate on the concept together for their gallery. Sharing a style of vibrant colors and bubbly cartoons, the duo produced a ten-piece gallery in the hopes that they could elicit emotions from visitors.

“I want to evoke nostalgia in people who see this gallery, I mean, that’s why I’m doing this — it’s a really personal thing for me because they’re toys I played with,” Massie said.

For Mendiola, her piece on the notable Nintendo character, Yoshi holds a special place in her heart. As a young girl, she often watched her grandma play “Yoshi’s Island” and recalls trying to learn the game by watching.

“I would just watch her play it because I was too young to know what was going on,” Mendiola said. “I remember that game really vividly, and I still like to play it now.”  

Also a tribute to her family and childhood, Massie’s artwork titled, “Alphabet Blocks” was nostalgic, but for reasons different than Mendiola.

Massie remembered when her younger sisters first entered her life, after being an only child for seven years, and seeing the toys they would play with.

“It was a difficult time in my childhood,” Massie said. “I had to suddenly deal with younger siblings the same time as my parent’s divorce and a second move across the country, and on top of that learn to share everything I owned, including a parent and a household.”  

She used toy blocks in her painting to spell out the word “suffer,” to give insight into the pain she was feeling at that time.

Massie also used children’s toys as a reflection of her father in her piece “Daddy Doll,” in which she depicts two hands “awkwardly” holding a box with a doll inside to represent a lack of interaction between the two.

These deeply rooted stories did not form overnight for Massie and Mendiola as they spent the summer vacation conceptualizing and creating.

Following the galleries, Massie and Mendiola look to the future as they approach graduation.

For Mendiola, she is unsure of what she wants to do after graduation, but she’s hoping to be a freelance artist and is considering furthering her education.

“I could go back to community college and take some classes that I’ve wanted to take to better my skills … maybe dabble in animation,” Mendiola said.

Massie plans to apply for professional internships after college and has a goal of becoming a freelance artist, but also hopes that she can continue her toy concept.

“I really enjoy this idea and I want to bring it to other people,” Massie said. “Eventually I do want to start venturing out and start involving other people with their memories possibly.”

“Show + Tell” can be viewed at the School of Art galleries on campus from noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Four other student galleries are also featured, all of which located in the Fine Arts Buildings on campus between FA3 and FA4.

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