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CSULB artist showcases artworks addressing restorative justice

Two interactive art performances in a series called “Ubuntu” were showcased on campus Wednesday evening, Dec. 1, to address restorative justice and the impact of white supremacy on Black and Indigenous communities.

The art performances were held in two different locations. The first one, which began at 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts 5 plaza, was a 49-minute drumming ceremony called “Gathering,” performed by members of the American Indian Studies Inter-Tribal Drummers, Art Neri, Jorge Reyes and Greg Stone.

As a fog rolled in, the drummers chanted “open your heart, open your mind,” as they played in front of the vacant rock that used to be the Prospector Pete statue. Four performed songs were played to commemorate the Gabrieleno, Tongva, Juaneno, and Acjachemen nations impacted by the Gold Rush settlement.

The ceremony also marked a movement for a redesign of the plaza that would honor diverse CSULB community and the TongvaGabrielino people.

When the drum demonstration ended, attendees made their way to the second location in front of the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum Pavilion, formerly known as the University Art Museum.

A projection of a pre-recorded video glowed on the Ronald and Sylvia Hartman wall, featuring nicolaalee in a black leotard with the phrase “human freedom of speech wall” in white across her chest. The message was a protest against the “covert censorship” handling of lauren woods American MONUMENT exhibition in the fall of 2018.

An iron pillow sculpture illuminated in red light lay adjacent to the Hartman wall. The monument addressed the plight of Black Americans and the lives that were lost due to police killings and systemic oppressions

The words “I am, so WE are” are etched onto the rusted pillow, which is the definition of the word and name of the art performance, “Ubuntu.”

nicolaalee, 42, directed the artworks as part of her thesis project for her master’s in fine arts in sculpture. The CSULB graduate student said her first and last name are lowercased and joined together to form one word.

Through her artwork, nicolaalee hopes to create a “fertile ground for reconciling its white supremacist past,” through community healing and empowerment at CSULB.

nicolaalee displayed QR codes on each location that directed users to the artist’s statement.

“UBUNTU exhibit asks us to recognize the importance and value of each human beings’ livingness, so we might recognize ourselves in the communities we inhabit The Nauri precept Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngbatu means “a person is a person because of or through others,” nicolaalee said on her blog.

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