Euphrat Museum Hosts Second Art & Social Justice Institute
The Euphrat Museum Art recently hosted its second Art & Social Justice Institute, a weeklong program funded in part by a Foothill-De Anza Foundation Innovations Grant. The project was selected as De Anza College’s Innovation of the Year in the spring.
Selected students from the Learning Communities and Creative Arts created various works with assistance from African American studies instructor Julie Lewis, museum director Diana Argabrite and artist Titus Kaphar.
“Just to have the students have access to Titus’ heart, mind and brain is incredibly rare and a wonderful opportunity,” Argabrite said.
Kaphar is a former student and respected artist who served as mentor for the inaugural Institute [link to story]. Last year, the theme was mass incarceration, one of the subjects of Kaphar’s own work. This year, the theme is the language of protest. Kaphar challenged the students to work collaboratively to go beyond the traditional imagery and create art with a universal message.
“Oftentimes when you see images of artists in the world they’re working in isolation,” said Kaphar. “The reality is we’re stronger when we work together -- our voice is stronger when we stand together.”
One group of students collaborated on a series of portraits of unsung female activists, including family members. Each portrait is surrounded by a halo created from a collage of images. Victor Castillo, an art major, assisted in adding depth and contrast to the drawings.
“There are a lot of really talented artists here, and not only are we doing art but also getting hands-on work with Titus,” said Castillo. “I hope people feel inspired by the touching stories [we’re] working on.”
Although all students in the Institute would consider themselves activists, not all would consider themselves artists. Nor does everyone make something that can be mounted on the wall. One student choreographed a dance. Biology student Sabrina Dean, who is white, wrote a monologue responding to her father’s incredulity at her membership in the Black Leadership Collective.
“Being here allows me to be creative and see that I can express myself in other forms,” Dean said. “This summer institute is an important thing to have on campus, and I encourage people to come and see what we have to say.”
Student artwork will be showcased at the Euphrat’s opening exhibit, “Endangered,” in the fall. Plays and performances will take place at the reception on Tuesday, November 10. As for the Art & Social Justice Institute, Argabrite plans to host it every summer if possible.
“To hear from each of the students, coming from their own experiences -- I live for that,” said Argabrite. “It’s such a privilege to be able to continue De Anza’s tradition of working social justice consciousness into different subject areas.”
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