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Channeling the universal language of art
Joel Munoz reads the placard for his work A Walk in the Park: Corinthians 4:8-9 a creation based off his unconscious thought process. The project was created using conte and charcoal on paper. - photo by Brooke Borba

California State University, Stanislaus students showcased their newest artistic contemplations at reception Thursday evening at the CSU Art Gallery.

The students’ gallery, titled “Works from the Unconscious” and “Represent the Digital,” focused primarily on cultural appropriation, assimilation, and celebrating one’s stream-of-consciousness.  “Works of the Unconscious” is open to the public now until Dec. 19, while “Represent the Digital” will run until Nov. 26.

Running in tandem with the students’ reception was a course lecture taught by Elaine O’Briend, a professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Theory at CSU Sacramento.

The lecture, titled “How the World Stole the Idea of Modern Art,” presented the theory that art is a language of its own that continually shares social aspects, inspiration, and theft between cultures. 

“Modern artists didn’t go to school. They had to invent it. They were creating a new language — a shared language,” O’Brien said. “A problem with academia today is that there is little collaboration. Modernism should be learned by inspiring one another, and collaborating with one another.”

The students’ exhibit promoted O’Brien’s theory that art is a collective language. At the gallery, each artist in David Olivant’s class was called to showcase their piece, and explain their experience in channeling a universal language.

“Part of the process we use in our class is to promote the students to not make any ideas about what they are going to draw. They merely start by making marks on the paper, and build those up until they discover imagery that means something to them. They bring the imagery to the surface and develop it,” explained David Olivant, professor for the “Works from the Unconscious” exhibit.

Margaret Ritchey, a 70-year-old CSU Stanislaus student, explained the difference between internal and external communication: “I’m used to traveling. And I’ve always found that art was universal.  I’m used to working with ceramics, and clay. But on paper, this,” she pointed to her picture, “just evolved. And none of (the gallery’s pictures) look exactly the same, but they are all beautiful, and tell so much.”

Another student of Olivant’s class, Diana Isho, believed the process to be interesting and fun, but also stressful. Her piece, “Every Thought Captive,” channeled personal feelings. Practicing this artistic talent allowed her to delve within herself, and find something new, she said.

“The most interesting thing about this project is seeing images you thought you weren’t going to see,” she said.

CSU Stanislaus will also host an exhibit about advertising and graphic design by Daryl Morre from Nov. 29 through Dec. 19. The reception includes an artist talk at 6 p.m., and will be held Nov. 29.


209 reporter