Murmurs of conversation and contemporary music filled the University Student Union Room 100 as the Conscious Collection art exhibit kicked off. Conscious Collection was released last Thursday by Associated Students Inc. and brought people from marginalized communities together.
Art presented at the exhibit was showcased by members of select communities including students who are undocumented, students with disabilities, international students, members of the LGBTQ community and those with mental illnesses.
Long Beach State University Board of Directors’ staff representative, Colette Redden opened the exhibit discussion with a quote from French artist Henri Matisse: “Creativity takes courage.”
The pieces varied from photographs, paintings, poems and sculptures. Photographer Sonia De Los Santos created “Tamalera” and “Botes,” photos of working-class citizens in pushing carts along the city streets. To Carmen Varela, the director of Disabled Student Services, these pieces represented the work ethic of Americans and what it takes to earn one’s living regardless of what they do.
“There’s honor in all work … immigrants are only working to survive whether it’s collecting recyclables or working at a hotel,” Varela said. “In this country, immigrants are vilified only when they are trying to survive, to feed their families and do what they need to do.”
“Modelo A Seguir” or “My Role Model” by Bailey Ann Spillane displayed a woman wearing a steel-supported spinal cord, an intravenous cord attached to her body, an arm with multiple prescription medications and a forehead with a handicap symbol at the top of the woman’s head.
Visual art was not the only medium that was available to the night’s event. Student poets Angelo Gonzalez and Jireh Deng discussed mental illnesses, self reliance and struggling to be successful in college.
Gonzalez talked about mental illness and said that one in every five people have an illness of some sort according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Gonzalez said that his poems were meant to serve those with an illness by encouraging others to rid themselves of any stigmas they may feel.
Conscious Collection will take place again during the spring semester with a new set of artwork and communities to voice their experiences. The University Student Union will be open from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. during the semester and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during winter break.