Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

“Race and Othered” uses cultural individuality in art exhibit

“It’s an awkward conversation but the fact of the matter is, our institutions tend to be very white,” said Álvaro D. Marquez, Long Beach State graduate student and co-curator of the latest School of Art Gallery, when discussing his motivation for creating a minority-focused gallery.

“We felt that it was important to create a space for students of color,” Marquez said.

Together with co-curator and graduate student Alan Vidali, a gallery featuring artwork from 12 LBSU students of color has come to fruition in “Race and Othered.”

With a goal to bring different artists together, the exhibit showcases everything from cartoons to sculptures.  

One of the galleries contributors currently working toward his Master of Fine Arts degree at LBSU, Benjamin Lin shared his cultural experiences within his art.

After visiting a museum in his home country, Taiwan, Lin drew ideas from ancient bronze artwork and Chinese folklore to create his relief print “Carp Jumps Over Dragon Gate.”

The carp fish jumping over a dragon in his print is drawn from Chinese legends. He, along with other artists in the gallery, all shared the desire to shed light on their “cultural heritage and experiences.”

“I love folk art, folklore and history,” said Lin. “It’s a window into my culture.”

Also drawing from native folklore in her pieces “Her” and “Close-Up,” MFA student Sara Hassan Khani exhibits her Iranian culture with a focus on women. Khani’s two black-and-white paintings depict female characters from a famous Persian folk tale “Shahnameh,” through which Khani aimed to emphasize their individuality and expression.

“I have always been inspired by Iranian folktales and legends in my artworks,” said Khani. “I presented these works in this show to convey how it feels to be a woman from the Middle East and a person of color in this society.”

Also a contributor of the gallery, MFA student artist Rodolfo Montalvo unintentionally displays his Mexican culture through his cartoon piece, “Untitled.”

Having curated artwork for several children books, “Untitled” was not created to “speak directly to the show’s theme” according to Montalvo, as he had intended for it to be a future piece for a book. The cartoon piece features an old man and a donkey and still fits into the “Race and Othered” theme, as it shows aspects of his Mexican heritage.

Other student artists featured in the gallery include Alan Vidali, Briana Miyoko Stanley, Steven Dupus, Jennie Jieun Lee, Jillian Thompson, Gary Musgrave and Shima Taj Baksh.

Marquez said he hopes that this exhibit will address the lack of diversity in many art institutions, including the LBSU School of Art.

“I have a deep appreciation for this institution and I just want to make it better,” Marquez said.

“Race and Othered” is featured at the School of Art galleries in the Fine Arts Buildings between FA3 and FA4. This gallery, among four other student galleries can be viewed from noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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