2022 Graduate President’s Medalist Audia Dixon stuns with ‘Eden’ art exhibition

Student of distinction: Audia Dixon

Entering Audia Dixon’s “Eden: Pastorals of Black Juvenescence” is a window into the artist’s imagination. Physically, the works are enormous, taking up entire walls of space that seem to transport the observer into a world of happy memories. Yet within the scenes of carefree contentment and Disney characters, dangers appear in the details. Dark storm clouds in the distance, ominous waterfalls, crime tape and death let the admirer know that all is not right under the surface.

“I wanted to play with the idea of harmony and tension at the same time, in the same space, where there are certain things that may seem approaching or welcoming, but also threatening and sinister all at one time,” Dixon explains about her exhibit.

“Audia’s passion for the painting medium is clear to see. Her rich color use and gestural marks show an impressive level of skill but primarily reflect an imagination that has no limits,” said Nick Potter, professor in the Art, Design, and Art History Department. 

Dixon is the graduate Dean’s Medalist for the College of Arts and Humanities and the President’s Graduate Medalist for the University. She earned her Master of Arts in Art with an emphasis in painting. She is now sharing her knowledge with the next generation of artists as an instructor at Clovis Community College and plans to pursue her M.F.A.

Dixon transferred to Fresno State from Fresno City College in 2014, graduating with a B.A. in Art in 2016. 

During the pandemic, in addition to working on her graduate studies, she participated in the community mural project, “Lift Every Voice Mural Tour.” Soon after the first mural was finished, Dixon was asked to design a second mural by Black women painters from the Central Valley. She was in charge of the design and layout, with help from artists like Paige Mason, Vishinna Crowsmith and Ambika Mathis. The result is Fresno’s first mural done entirely by Black women artists. Her work has also been displayed at Yosemite Airport. 

Dixon believes that creating visual narratives about race and identity is a subject of critical debate that elicits controversy and various viewpoints. Still, her initiative is to draw juxtapositions about how Black identity is woven from conflicting historical and social constructs in our nation and all parts of the world. 

Dixon’s Project Exhibition, “Eden: Pastorals of Black Juvenescence,” explores a plethora of concepts that she takes a deep interest in, such as Black representation in nature, the vulnerabilities in Black girlhood, nostalgia, and the intersection of realities and dreams – all collaged together to create a world of uncertainties and possibilities. 

“These works demonstrate both her incredible talents as a painter and her sophisticated ability to use her medium as a mirror turned back reflexively on itself to critique its own Eurocentric past and to reemploy it in the service of capturing aspects of Black experience and resistance to Euro-American domination in North America,” Dr. Keith Jordan, professor of Art History, said.

The series is ongoing, and she looks forward to exploring more themes on Black identity, youth and nature. 

“Without Art, I don’t know how my life would turn out. For it gives me purpose, discipline and constant self-discovery. Your words of encouragement, advice and critique have shaped me to become what I am today, and I am very grateful,” said Dixon.

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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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