By Monique Garcia
Exhibitions, even small ones, are a significant and motivational element to any art program. Student exhibitions are a way for young artists to share their growing skills with families, friends, and the community.
For the art education majors at Cal State Long Beach, this Sunday will be the first-ever exhibition dedicated to showcasing their unique roles of both student and teacher. Each student will showcase original work in their medium of choice with the hope of guiding the viewer through a meaningful journey of self-reflection.
The exhibition will also feature an interactive group installation that will invite visitors to look within and reflect on their own experience with art in the classroom. The exhibition is aptly called Progression/Reflection: Envisioning a Brighter Future for Education Through the Arts.
Instead of trying to explain the inspiration behind this exhibition myself, let the students who envisioned and arranged the show tell you more about it:
Q: What was the motivation behind this gallery?
A: The gallery concept first came through a discussion amongst my peers and my professor, L’lia Thomas. We delved into the conversation of a shared experience in which people outside the program had associated our major as a separate entity from the actual art we create. There was a lack of sincerity during critiques or casually speaking when discussing our major with other art majors.
We were art educators but not seriously considered artists on our own time. For most subjects, the teaching of the subject stops in the classroom, but as art educators, we don’t want it to stop in the classroom. Art should follow.
Art is not only a subject you practice as a kid; it is a viable tool that engages a creative way of critical thinking. We are motivated and excited to showcase personal artworks from students within the art education program.
- Arianna Neri
Q: Why do you think it took so long for art education students to have a student exhibition for their work?
A: I believe it took some time to create an exhibit focused on art education because only the ones in this program care to advocate for this cause. Someone recently to me said that art education is in this odd space where we are not artistic enough to be artists, or we are too artistic to be taken seriously in general education classes.
For this reason, I believe those of us who noticed decided to push for a space in this exhibit. This is just one example of how we, as future art educators, will become advocates for our programs, our school, and, more importantly, our future students.
I am very excited to be in our first-ever art education exhibit, and I will be looking forward to future exhibits to come. With that, I am looking forward to walking this path with my fellow classmates and seeing where it will take us.
- Michelle Flores
Q: How are art education students different from art students who have regularly showcased their work?
A: With being in art education, we are a small category under the umbrella of the Bachelor of Arts program. From personal experience as BA art students, there isn’t a push or opportunity to showcase our work compared to other art students.
Now that we are learning to become art educators, it still feels like we are experiencing many limitations. As art ed students, we are pushed to study many art forms as a requirement, yet our range of skills is not recognized. There is a requirement to be well informed and well versed in different mediums, yet we are not given the same opportunities to showcase our talents.
Although we are becoming art educators, we are also artists. Our only difference is that we will eventually teach students to become artists themselves.
- Brianna Guerra
Q: Is this a one-time thing, or do you have plans to continue exhibitions for future art education students?
A: Art educators are vital to inspiring generations of future artists. Most professional fine artists have a teacher or professor who challenged and inspired them creatively. How else would we convey that feeling outside of a gallery? This show is essential and overdue. I am confident that Art Ed will continue this show in future years.
- Alana Green
Q: What do you hope people gain from experiencing this exhibition?
A: I hope this exhibition inspires people to think outside the boundaries of traditional educational structures and embrace creativity and nuance. I hope it serves as a space for people to connect and heal past wounds from their personal experiences as students. I hope our show reminds people that art education is art itself and that there is no separation between making and teaching art. And I hope Progression/Regression paves the way for future Art Education Students at Cal State Long Beach, providing a space to amplify and uplift the fantastic and diverse talents within our field.
The group of inspired art education students kicked off their exhibition on Sunday, February 20th. The gallery will be open now until Thursday, February 24th. If you are interested in attending, feel free to visit the Gatov East Gallery at the CSULB campus from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Rachel Curry