Cannupa Hanska Luger discussed his work in an artist lecture April 4

Artist Cannupa Hanska Luger and Charah Coleman
~ By Lisa Maria Boyles, communications specialist for the College of Arts and Humanities

Charah Coleman works in Fresno State’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. But on a recent Monday afternoon, during her lunch break, she was an artist, working her hands in wet clay, adding her own touches to a cast of an egg, side by side with renowned Native American artist Cannupa Hanska Luger and Blanca Davila, an art student who transferred to Fresno State from College of the Sequoias.

Coleman and Davila worked with Luger, a guest artist with the Center for Creativity and the Arts, in open lab time during his visit here from March 27 to April 7.

The pieces created in those lab times, which was open to anyone, were on display later during an artist exhibition and reception on April 6, at the M Street Graduate Studios. Teenagers from the Chawanakee Unified School District helped him install the art pieces –  eggs cradled in a nest of clay bear skulls, representing hopes for the future.

Luger said he chose the bear because it is California’s state animal. After Luger left Fresno State, the clay used in these bear skulls and eggs once again became one with the earth, returning to the land.

Attracting participants from across Fresno State’s colleges and disciplines, as well as from the broader community is exactly the purpose of Center for Creativity and the Arts.

“CCA’s endowment is suppose to create programming that speaks to the Fresno community in large, not just art,” said Cindy Urrutia, director of the Center for Creativity and the Arts. “We have had non-art people come to the Shawl Project too. Some of them are not even campus community members.”

Luger presented an artist lecture on Tuesday, April 4, in the Alice Peters Auditorium in the Peters Business Building.

Luger’s visit was hosted by the College of Arts and Humanities’ Center for Creativity and the Arts, in collaboration with the Department of Art and Design. Luger was born on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

The Center for Creativity and the Arts commissioned Luger to create a sculpture that reflects his values as a Native American artist. His sculpture is titled “Pillar” and consists of life-sized slip casts of buffalo head forms, which will be glazed or rendered in various colors representing minerals and other resource materials extracted from sacred lands.

Luger said he sees parallels between how buffalos and Native people have been treated in our nation’s history – killing them to the point of near extinction, attempting to breed them for domestication.

“Our country doesn’t have any conversation about this at all,” Luger said.

By making statements with his artwork, Luger says he is “weaponizing my privilege. Being an artist is an incredible privilege.”

A dedication ceremony for “Pillar,” Luger’s permanent creation for the university, took place on April 7, on the west lawn of the Conley Arts Building.

Next year’s theme

The Center for Creativity and the Art’s 2017-18 theme will be “Voice and Silence: Expressions of the Human Spirit and Community.”

“’Voice and Silence’ will look at the various ways in which we communicate our ideas, points of views and concerns regarding current events,”Urrutia said. Programming details will be coming soon.

Information is available by contacting Urrutia at or 559.278.8341.

Related Links:

Posted by

The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.