‘Fight the Hike Art Movement’ Engages with Privatization

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By Gabrielle Garcia and Sandra Fernandez

Feb. 27 will be a day full of artful protest for the participants and viewers of “Privatized Minds // A Fight the Hikes Art Movement.” During the day, the Bridge Gallery at Porter College will house an exhibition that will lead to a second event held at the Art Bar and Cafe at the Tannery Arts Center. Both events are being held because of the recent tuition hikes and other global issues.

While these events are centered around the privatization of public education, the content within the exhibit extends beyond that. Together, the exhibits use almost every medium of art to provide spaces where participants can discuss issues affecting them.

Visitors of the Bridge Gallery will see photographs taken by third-year art major Jessica Owens that document Bay Area protests including one that denounced police brutality during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, and another organized in response to the missing students of Ayotzinapa, Mexico. Owens said that while these issues don’t seem connected to tuition hikes, both have an effect on students at large.

“I haven’t shown this series anywhere and I thought that this was pretty fitting. It’s like the whole incarceration of minorities rather than putting that money into education,” Owens said. “It ties into what we are dealing with as students, and what minorities everywhere are dealing with.”

In his portion of the exhibit, artist Seth Temple Andrews plans to display quotes from administrators like UC President Janet Napolitano on butcher paper using an inkjet printer. Andrews said the quotes will be taken from agreements and negotiations made by administrators — which he hopes will encourage students to engage with their university and education.

“The wonderful thing about this show is if there’s one place to talk about it, it’s here on campus. We can take a stand and say, ‘This is where we draw the line, and where we don’t let Napolitano ruin the amazing university that this place should be or still is, even though it’s hanging by a thread,’” Andrews said.

The participants of the exhibit at the Art Bar and Cafe will unite to produce art that connects the dots between art and activism through different platforms.

The free event will feature spoken word artists, literature on the tuition hikes, live bands, screenprinting, zines and live art. While the idea for the exhibit at the Tannery was organized by three students from UC Santa Cruz, the event has developed into a larger collective including students and artists from across the UC. Dominik Muro, a third-year who helped organize the event, said she is excited to see it all come together.

“The coolest part for me is that a lot of the performers are from different campuses, there is so much unity in it,” Muro said.

Muro worked alongside third-year Vienna Alvarez and fourth-year Dayton Andrews to organize the event. They began brainstorming on how to critically showcase the tuition hikes through artistic expression, and the discussion eventually developed into an idea for an art show that features the struggles of all students and all people.

“When we started organizing, we had to have a space for people to educate themselves on what is happening not only in the UC, but throughout the world,” Alvarez said. “You can come out and learn about an issue, and you have the right to feel however you want to feel about it.”

Bourgeois Speedball, a band that includes UCSC alumni, will travel from Berkeley to perform at the Art Bar and Cafe. The band, both political in nature and by virtue of its name, will feature songs with field recordings from live protests like the UCSC graduate student wages protest that took place in spring 2014. Ian Brown, who incorporates sounds into the music through a sampler and also contributes vocals, explained the dynamics of using live sounds in music.

Ian Brown, lead vocalist of Bourgeois Speedball
Ian Brown, lead vocalist of Bourgeois Speedball

“We bring our field recorder and record chants, speeches and ambiance of these struggles and we incorporate those in different ways in our compositions,” Brown said. “We have this direct relationship between our project and the political involvement, because the sound of the political involvement is incorporated into our songs.”

While these exhibitions are going on in Santa Cruz, donations will be collected at the Tannery that will be used toward making “Privatized Minds,” a mobilized show that will travel throughout California.

Artist Seth Temple Andrews hopes that the exhibitions will serve as a catalyst for change and encourage people to engage in activism.

“People make a difference and it starts from the grassroots, and it works up from there, and now is the time to do it. It’s not like it’s getting any better,” Andrews said. “We can create a way for this to be solved, and it’s going to take as many people as we can get.”