Intersecting Mediums of Justice

New exhibition highlights identity and dignity

666

Some quotes have been translated from Spanish.

Screen prints, photographs and zines represent more than an outlet for artistic expression. Regardless of the medium, “Emerging Visions: Creative Practice at the Nexus of Freedom and Justice” uses art to make a statement that goes against the status quo.

The exhibition is inspired by speculative fiction author Octavia E. Butler and social justice facilitator adrienne maree brown’s work on manifesting change. Attendees were invited to interact with different modes of art for social justice — from leaving wellness messages in cabinets and playing a video game to produce individual virtual art to blackberry stained cardstock.

Whether it be through reading zines or walking along a gut-wrenching photo series, each piece of the exhibition captures unique social justice issues ranging from housing insecurity, racial injustice and immigration.

“Emerging Visions” is a multimedia art exhibition featuring artists who use dynamic mediums to represent their intersecting interpretations of liberation.

The show featured artists from Oakland, Brooklyn, Nigeria, Sacramento and East Los Angeles, as well as UCSC students. Above all else, “Emerging Visions” highlights artists who use art and its radical effect on everyday life as a form of activism.

“I wanted to look at how we […] imagine freedom and justice in new ways,” said Mary Thomas, the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery research associate who spearheaded the event.

Alma Esperanza Villa Loma, a fifth-year transfer art student at UCSC, displayed part of her senior thesis project in “Emerging Visions.”

Villa’s larger project, “Making Home under Precarious Housing Conditions: The Experiences of Latinxs in Los Angeles, CA,” displays poetry, photography and in-depth interviews with community members throughout Los Angeles to capture the hostile realities of insecure housing conditions and the strength of the Latinx community.

“My work is meant to convey dignity,” Villa said in Spanish.

In one photo, Villa captured a woman sitting next to a bed of red roses outside her home. The woman, dressed in a vibrant skirt and a simple black top, is smiling back at the camera.

“I wanted to capture stories of migration, work and nostalgia,” said Villa in Spanish. “But I also wanted to show that [Latinx people] are more than just exotic objects.”

Villa’s photographs tell a powerful story about the experiences of the Latinx community. The vibrancy of her photos and the power behind her subjects show the tenacity of those who endure displacement and injustice at every corner.

Zoe Sandoval, a first-year graduate student pursuing their MFA in digital arts and new media, has two pieces on display. Both pieces, “{wish u were queer}” and “wellness wonder cabinet”, incorporated interactive elements and relied on audience engagement. Most attendees seemed intrigued by the idea of engaging so directly with art.

“That’s what my work pushes for,” Sandoval said of their interactive art pieces, “and ultimately [it] makes people feel a little uncomfortable because they question their position as audience members because it makes them participate.”

Also displayed in the exhibit was an artist’s interpretation of a cabinet of curiosities, which was originally used for the vast collections of objects elites curated in their homes to show off to other elites. The cabinets are rooted in a long history of colonialism and objectification, but Sandoval hoped to create their own cabinet of curiosity fueled by something more positive.

Pieced together by a one-way mirror and bright LEDs, Sandoval’s “wellness wonder cabinet” is focused on positivity, wonder and awe. This cabinet is meant to be a spacewhere audience members can share a part of their own personal story and reclaim it as their own rather than having someone else co-opt it.

“I always come back to this quote by Albert Camus,” Sandoval said, “and he says the only way to be free in a very unjust world is where your very existence is an act of rebellion against something.”

“Emerging Visions” will be on display at The Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery at Cowell College from April 19 to June 19.