Juan Felipe Herrera exhibition, catalog celebrates Laureate’s journey across America

Associate Dean Honora Chapman (right) toasts Juan Felipe Herrera

~ Photo above: Associate Dean Honora Chapman toasts Juan Felipe Herrera during the reception for his recent exhibition.

Reception for Juan Felipe Herrera's recent exhibitionThe Center for Creativity and the Arts and the Department of Art and Design paid tribute to Juan Felipe Herrera’s two-term tenure as poet laureate of the United States in an exhibition titled “Magnifying the People’s Voice: A Laureate’s Journey Across America” and with the publication of a companion catalog, documenting the work was on display in the exhibition.

Cover of "Herrera -- Magnifying the People's Voice: A Laureate's Journey Across America"“Magnifying the People’s Voice” showcased some of Herrera’s projects with the Library of Congress, as well as his interactions with people throughout the United States during his tenure from 2015 to 2017. His tenure culminated with a celebration in Washington, D.C., in April.

This exhibition was part of CCA’s 2017-18 theme “Voice and Silence: Expressions of Community, Advocacy and the Human Spirit.” The exhibition was on display from Oct. 5 through 26 at the M Street Graduate Studios (1419 M St.) in downtown Fresno. An artist’s reception was held on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

The exhibition was divided into several themes:

  • Herrera’s early life
  • Being named poet laureate
  • His first term:
    • La Casa de Colores
    • El Jardin
  • His second term:
    • The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon
    • Wordstreet Champions
    • Brave Builders of Dreams
  • Creation of the Laureate Lab Visual Words Studio, an experimental space housed in the Henry Madden Library, where poetry is taken into new hands-on spaces

Artwork on display at Juan Felipe Herrera's recent exhibition“Magnifying the People’s Voice” consisted of snapshot photographs taken by Herrera of train stations, airports, cityscapes, automatic writing, people and popular culture. The snapshots are candid representations of Herrera’s travels, interactions with people and projects with the Library of Congress. Each photograph was be accompanied by a short story prose or photo-poem written by Herrera.

“Through the snapshots of this exhibition, visitors will be able to see Herrera’s uncompromising dedication to the American collective and his personal ideals,” said Cindy Urrutia, director of the Center for Creativity and the Arts. “In this exhibition, one truly sees the expanse that is America: different socio-economic backgrounds, multiple identity groups, various ages and geographic regions. Herrera worked with America, represented America, is America. He is the ‘People’s Poet.’”

From left, Dean Saúl Jimenez-Sandoval and Juan Felipe HerreraA Fowler native, Herrera (shown with Dean Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval) worked as a professor in Fresno State’s Chicano and Latin American Studies Department from 1990 to 2004. In 2015, he was appointed as the United States’ 21st poet laureate, becoming the first Latino to hold the title. He was reappointed in April 2016 to a second term. The majority of Herrera’s projects were meant to engage children and young adults with the spoken word.

The Center for Creativity and the Arts serves a hub for arts in which artists from a variety of backgrounds can work to stimulate public engagement through inquiry, discussion and understanding.

Two spring events are already scheduled:
  • In February, for Black History Month, a catalog titled “Do You Know Who I am? — A Pictorial Exhibit Honoring Central Valley African American Veterans” is scheduled for publication.
  • Dr. Robert V. Levine, a professor emeritus from the Department of Psychology, will give a lectured titled “Hearing Voices in our Heads” from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 22 in the Alice Peters Auditorium. Levine is the author of “Stranger in the Mirror: The Scientific Search for Self.”

Additional events and programming in the “Voice and Silence” theme will be announced for the spring semester.

The companion catalog will be available through The Press at California State University, Fresno (2017, $25) and on Amazon. Contact Gail Freeman at gailf@csufresno.edu or 559.278.3056.

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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.

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