CCA to explore the boundaries and perceptions of art and identity in new series

Birkenau, 2014 - Acrylic on linen mounted on wood, Yishai Jusidman

By Rachael Stubbert and Benjamin Kirk

How do we view ourselves as a society in terms of identity? What binds us? What separates us? How does art help us mobilize to be a better version of ourselves? What is the role of art in terms of identity?

To examine these questions, the Center for Creativity and the Arts (CCA) announced “Art and Identity: Boundaries and Perceptions” as its theme for the upcoming 2019-20 year.  Through artistic events it plans to provide to the community, CCA hopes to prompt attendees to think about what role art plays in constructing and conveying identity.

As part of the medley of events that will be held beginning in Fall 2019, CCA will be hosting the exhibition “Prussian Blue” by Jewish Mexican artist Yishai Jusidman. Organized by the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City, the exhibition has traveled internationally and is set to show in Buenos Aires in Winter of 2020.

Prussian Blue - Birkenau, 2014, Yishai Jusidman
Birkenau, 2014 – Acrylic on linen mounted on wood, Yishai Jusidman

“An enormous catalog of literary, theater and film works has become a prime conduit in our grasp and memory of the Holocaust. As the catalog expands, it increasingly underscores the contrast between the hardships it depicts and the comforts enjoyed by present readers and viewers. Still, Holocaust-themed productions rarely address judiciously the aesthetic/moral dilemmas implicated by every representation of this event,” said Jusidman.

“In my Prussian Blue series, I address the Holocaust in painting by seeking to generate the pictorial impression of a silence as solemn and forthright as it is eloquent, thus furnishing an alternative to the fatalistic strictures that have stifled the production of works dealing with this subject.”

CCA “Crossroads” events of 2018-2019

The 2018-2019 academic year theme was “Crossroads” — in a literal and metaphorical sense. The theme aimed to create a dialogue in terms of social justice, environmentalism and technology, to look at the junctures we are facing as a society, and to discuss which roads we are going to take.

Tomiko Jones: Hatsubon

Reception: Sept. 20, Conley Arts
Exhibition: Sept.20 – Oct. 12
Co-Sponsors: Art and Design, AIS

The ceremony of hatsubon marks the first anniversary of a loved one’s death, held during the yearly ritual of O-bon, a Japanese Buddhist custom honoring ancestors.

The exhibition weaves together photographic imagery Jones collected in Swissvale, Pennsylvania, the town of her father’s birth; Hawaii, her mother’s home and her father’s final resting place; and California, where her parents met, and Jones was born. The materiality of the work suggests the dualities of the fleeting and the lasting, the ephemeral and the corporeal, and the pendulous state between longing and release.

The Business of Regret: Perspectives on War, Chaos and the Rejection of Violence

Reception: Oct 4, M Street Graduate Studios
Exhibition: Oct. 4 – Oct. 28
Co-Sponsors: Art & Design Department, the Armenian Studies Program, M Street Graduate Studios, and Connect Contemporary Fine Art Gallery.

The work of two artists combined at ArtHop in Downtown Fresno in October for a look at intersecting points of views on violence from past and present perspectives in the exhibition “The Business of Regret: Perspectives on War, Chaos and the Rejection of Violence exhibition.”

A selection of artwork by Fresno’s Varaz Samuelian was exhibited alongside contemporary Armenian artist Henrik Abedian as part of a cross-departmental and college collaboration between the Center for Creativity and the Arts, Art & Design, the Armenian Studies Program, and M Street Graduate Studios.

“As citizens of the world, it is important to not only be aware of the impact of war but to have conversations on it so that we can strive for a more just world.  War is not some imaginary place. It is real.”

Dr. Cindy Urrutia, CCA Director

A discussion with panelists Abedian, Urrutia and Fresno State Armenian Studies Program Coordinator Barlow Der Mugrdechian was held ahead of the exhibition.

“Their works stress the rejection of violence, and because they are from two different generations, they each bring their unique view to the question. They have different experiences, but their art brings them to similar conclusions. That they are both Armenian is also interesting, as Armenians have faced Genocide and war in the 20th century from a unique vantage point.”

Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Armenian Studies Program Coordinator

Jaime Ruiz Otis: Mined Matter

Reception: Oct. 25
Exhibition: Oct. 25 – Nov. 24
Co-sponsors:  Department of Art and Design and Centro Cultural Tijuana

In border towns, ideas on commerce, culture, economics, and environment coalesce. Much of this is seen in the materials Jaime Ruiz Otis utilizes and lends his works to engaging with many dialogues and different perspectives—the effects of industry on border cities, waste, recycling, and upcycling.

“This exhibition is the result of relationships the Center for Creativity and the Arts has been developing with various Mexican cultural institutions over the past 1 1/2 years. In this particular instance, with Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT),” said Dr. Cindy Ruth Urrutia, Director of the Center for Creativity and Arts at Fresno State. “It is a testament to cultural exchange, the values of the College Arts and Humanities, as well as those of Fresno State that promotes discovery, diversity, and distinction.”

“My favorite piece was the gold foil totem that reached the ceiling. Due to its monumentality and dual references to Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures as well the impact of modern industry and industrial waste at border towns, it is a highly complex piece with multiple layers of meaning.”

Dr. Cindy Urrutia, CCA Director

Ruiz Otis creates works using waste products he collects from the maquiladoras. According to Ruiz Otis, before working at the maquiladoras, he was painting with acrylics. He was always interested in the idea of found objects and the history behind them.

Unveiling Supergroovalistic Funk

Unveiling reception: Thursday, Nov. 15, Pete P. Peters Ellipse Balcony gallery
Exhibition: Nov. 15 – Jan 15
Co-sponsor: Henry Madden Library

A ceramic female nude sculpture, “Supergroovalistic Woman” by visual artist Michael Chukes was acquired by the Center for Creativity and the Arts on behalf of Fresno State and displayed along with other works by Chukes.

A highly respected and renowned African American artist from Los Angeles, Chukes’ works grace several museums and private collections such as that of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“Supergroovalistic Woman” was initially exhibited as part of the group exhibition “Eyes Forward: Creating Our Narratives,” March 2018. The sculpture was inspired by the music, syncopation, freestyling and funk of the music by George Clinton.

Luba Lukova Designing Justice

Reception: Jan 31,  Conley Art Gallery
Exhibition: Jan. 31 – Feb. 28

Internationally renowned, New York-based Luba Lukova is regarded as one of the most original image-makers working today. Whether by using an economy of line, color and text to pinpoint essential themes of humanity or to succinctly visualize social commentary, her work is undeniably powerful and thought-provoking.

In Lukova’s art, less is more. More effect, more message, more expression, while doing it with less. The graphic elements are bold with few fine details, but the intent is clear. Her messages reflect the human condition, fundamental fairness, and justice. While it is easy to focus solely on the messages of her provocative works, it is important to take a step back to appreciate the artistic merit in her simplicity. Her use of striking, metaphoric images gives the viewers art to recognize not only visually but intellectually as well.

Lukova’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Denver Art Museum; Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris; Hong Kong Heritage Museum; and other museums around the world.

Malaquías Montoya, A Voice for the Voiceless

Reception: Feb. 7 at the M Street Graduate Studios
Exhibition: Feb. 7 – March 29

The solo exhibition features the work of Malaquías Montoya, one of the founders of the social serigraphy movement in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-1960s. The paintings, silkscreens, charcoals and oil pastels, address three prominent themes: injustice, empowerment, and international struggle.

The works in this exhibition are intended to raise awareness and pay homage to those whom the artist calls the “silent and often ignored populace of Chicana/o, Mexican and Central American working class, along with other disenfranchised people of the world.”

Montoya asks, “What better role for art at this critical time in our history?”

Colloquium Explores ‘Roads and Routes as Conduits of Culture’ In the Pre-modern World

Colloquium: March 7

Since ancient times roads/routes have linked places and cultures. Fostering in this process the trade, the spread of people, ideas, and technologies, the exploration, and recording of new lands, the creation of settlements, the definition of landscapes, the building of empires and the shaping of nations. The colloquium is part of the Center for Creativity and the Arts’ 2018-19 theme “Crossroads.”

The Center for Creativity and the Arts invited the public to an exploration of the global phenomenon of roads and routes that shaped the history of the pre-modern world. Speakers included John Pohl, Steve Lekson, David Conrad, George Greenia, José Adrián Barragán-Álvarez and Wannasarn Noonsuk and were moderated by Keith Jordan, professor of Art and Design and Luis J. Gordo-Peláez, assistant professor of Art and Design.

Sponsored Events

Beyond bringing top national and international artist to Fresno State, CCA also helps to fund the arts across Fresno State through sponsorships.

CineCulture, Aug. 31
Movie:  The Valley (2017)
Discussant: Saila Kariat (Director)

CineCulture, Sept. 14
Movie: Life After Life (2018)
Discussant: Tamara Perkins (Director), Dr. Deidre Hill-Valdivia; Noel Valdivia, Sr. (featured in the film)

Classical Hindustani Concert, Oct. 23

Dr. Lovely Sharma is a guest artist performing on sitar (Indian string instrument) with Pundit Debasis Chakroborty on improvised Indian slide guitar accompanied on tabla (Indian percussion instrument) by Pundit Shashanka Bakshi. Dr. Lovely Sharma is Vice-Chancellor of Raja Man Singh Tomer University, Gwalior in central India. Pundit Chakroborty is Associate Professor of Music at Institute of visual, performing arts & research at Mangalayata University, Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh State. They often appear on regional and national radio and TV stations in India and have performed internationally in Australia, South Korea, China, Japan, countries in the Middle East, Malaysia, and Italy.

Cineculture, Sept. 28:
Movie: Finding Kukan (2016)
Discussant: Robin Lung (Director)

Cineculture, Oct. 26
Movie: RBG (2018)
Discussant: Donna Schuele (Attorney, Author, Professor)

Cineculture, Nov. 16
Movie: Dede (2017)
Discussant: Mariam Bakacho Khatchvani (Director) and Teimuraz Chkvimiani (Producer)

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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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