Charah Coleman works in Fresno State’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. But on 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.
The pieces created in those lab times, which are open to anyone, will be on display later this week during an artist exhibition and reception that will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at the M Street Graduate Studios. Teenagers from the Chawanakee Unified School District will help 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 leaves Fresno State at the end of this week, the clay used in these bear skulls and eggs will once again become 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 will present an artist lecture from 3:30-5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, in the Alice Peters Auditorium in the Peters Business Building.
Luger’s visit is 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 will be titled “Pillar” and will consist 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, will take place at 1:30 p.m. on April 7, on the west lawn of the Conley Arts Building.
Information is available by contacting Urrutia at CCAFresnoState@csufresno.edu or 559.278.8341.