Local artists featured in virtual ‘PANDEMICAL’ exhibition

This is the view from my backyard. I was hypnotized by the clouds popping in and out of the window bound by trees, telephone poles, and my neighbors house.

The virtual exhibition runs Oct. 1 to Nov. 20 on the PANDEMICAL website.

In choosing an image from the submissions to represent the “PANDEMICAL” exhibition, Dr. Cindy Urrutia, director for the Center for Creativity and the Arts, said she was drawn to “Normalcy” by local artist and Fresno State alumna Shannon Bickford.

“There is a quietude that comes in the moments where silence envelopes us–it can bring peace or discomfort,” Urrutia explained. “It is simultaneously eerie, peaceful, beautiful and captivating. It underlines the chaos that can simmer on the surface of a sleepy, quiet state that, in a way, has become a normal state of being during the Pandemic.”

Like PANDEMICAL, Urrutia says, Normalcy captures the wide range of emotions and experiences that we as a society are witnessing.

This is the view from my backyard. I was hypnotized by the clouds popping in and out of the window bound by trees, telephone poles, and my neighbors house.
“Normalcy” by Shannon Bickford. “When life slows down, one notices things that seemed so irrelevant to a busy brain. This is the view from my backyard. I was hypnotized by the clouds popping in and out of the window bound by trees, telephone poles, and my neighbors house.”

Bickford has an M.A. in Special Major, combining art and biology, and an M.S. in Psychology from Fresno State. After 20 years as a school psychologist, she retired and now dedicates her time to art, writing, and family.

As the world locked down due to the pandemic, CCA shifted their focus from bringing nationally and internationally recognized artists to Fresno State to exploring the creative outlets of local and regional artists through the 2020 experience. PANDEMICAL explores the ways COVID-19 has impacted our lives, creativity, and artistry. Taking advantage of the online medium, it will showcase spoken word, poetry, theatre, music, painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, video and animation.

On the evening of Thursday, Oct. 1, local artists, musicians and writers gathered online for a socially distanced PANDEMICAL reception. In contrast to the dreary Zoom calls many are on, day in and day out throughout the pandemic, this call was different: It was jovial. The evening started with welcome remarks by Dr. Cindy Urrutia, director of the Center for Creativity and the Arts, and acknowledgments by Chris Lopez, Conley Art Gallery Technician, but it was the band Sedan Delivery with their song “Reset” that set the mood for the evening.

Following remarks by Dr. Honora Chapman, interim dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, Jamillah Finley ‘Lila’ performed a live version of their song “I’m So Black, I’m Blue,” with the Breakbox Thought Collective. The refined, lowkey keyboard, backbeat and powerful lyrics broke through the Zoom barrier as the audience was enamored with the increasingly rare sound of live music. The recorded version of the song can be found here.

Meghan Cartier, a graduate student of art history, announced the winners adjudicated by Michael Chukes and Vivian Velasco-Paz. The first two awards were the “Curator/Staff Picks that went to Edward Gillum for his piece “Touch,” a digital thermo wax print on Mylar and Jim Schmidt for his instrumental video “It gets Funky.”

Edward Gillum, “Touch” – Digital thermo wax print on Mylar 16 x 20 in.

Third place went to Steven Church for his brief essay written for the Yonsei Memory Project’s “Valley Writers Respond” titled “Understanding the Fox.”

Second place went to Enedina Castañeda for her photograph “Salón Vacío—Empty Classroom” and her poem “You Are the Teacher.” 

Enedina Castañeda, “Salón Vacío—Empty Classroom”

First prize went to Jamillah Finley ‘Lila’ and the Breakbox Though Collective for their four entries, “I’m so Black, I’m Blue,” “Nightingale,” “The People Cried for Justice” and “The Miscarriage of Justice.”

After closing remarks by Dr. Urrutia, there was one more surprise to close out the evening. Songwriter, folk singer and recording artist Erin Olds performed her song “Where Is Here” from her “Quarantine EP.” The introspective piece was delivered with Olds’ clear voice and takes a thoughtful look at the past, while being stuck in the present with a timid and frustrated eye to the future. 

The Center for Creativity and the Arts’ mission is to engage the public with the arts through dynamic interdisciplinary programming that highlights local topics that have global perspectives. As an institution, the center is committed to contributing to the intellectual, social and artistic life of the University and the Central Valley and seeks to create an environment where the arts function as a catalyst for intellectual and creative conversations that are grounded in the everyday life of the Central Valley.

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Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

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