H#sht#g senior art show is a real conversation starter

Abby Vawter’s “3,000” is an explosion of 3,000 (good guess!) folded pieces of printer paper that takes over one corner of the gallery. There are three origami shapes: cones, flowers, and “cootie catchers” (those square finger fortune games we played as children). “My art is intended to not only challenge the idea of a grander finished product, but as an investigation of the smaller intricate chaos that is necessary to create a complete work,” Abby writes in her artist statement. She estimates she spent about 75 to 100 hours folding the pieces of paper.
Sarah Smith pushed her personal limits to create her series of three paintings depicting what she describes as self-mutilation in the name of beauty. “I wanted to make a commentary on what women are doing to their bodies, with Botox, surgery, and other things to where their bodies don’t look human anymore,” she says. Until her senior project, Smith had always painted figures – but on a smaller and more eye-pleasing scale. For this project, she says she had to “untrain her eye, to not paint beauty,” and to distort, melt and bloat the bodies in the same way as she sees women harming themselves. “I just don’t understand how people could do that to themselves,” she says.

When I saw the title for this year’s senior art show at CSUB, I thought, “genius!” The title “h#asht#g” speaks not only to the generation of artists whose works are a commentary on today’s world, but also to the fact that art provokes response – much in the same way that a hashtag does in modern conversation.

On the social media platform Twitter, a hashtag, represented by a pound symbol (#), turns a word or phrase into a topic for discussion. Click the hyperlink, and you can read all of the latest tweets about that term. Under the umbrella title of “h#sht#g,” this year’s senior show encompasses the wide variety of artwork that elicits a range of responses from the viewer.

The show inside the Todd Madigan Gallery includes sculptures, paintings, photography, videos, fashion, and installation pieces created over the past few months by senior art students at CSUB. One sculpture – too large to fit through a doorway – sits next to the Fine Arts Building and is not to be missed.

The show will be on display through June 16. Gallery hours are from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free; parking is by permit or $5 day pass. For more information, contact gallery curator Joey Kotting at 661-654-2238.

— Jennifer Burger, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator

Enemerio “Emmy” Galvan is a multimedia artist – he quilts, knits with yarn he spins himself from wool, paints and creates ceramics. Always challenging himself further, he decided to take up his first welding project for the senior art show. It was no small feat; his approximately 12-foot by 12-foot metal and ceramic sculpture consists of an outer frame and two halves of a gate suspended in the middle. His “Sun Gate” is influenced by the sci fi film “Star Gate” and the ancient Aztec calendar. “I like the mix of the old world with the new world. And both materials are so strong, yet so different,” Emmy says. The project took him four months and now he says he feels like a welding pro. “I’m still in awe of it,” he says.
Jamaal Hasef Tolbert’s video piece “Shadism” is a study in both art and sociology. “Shadism is when a group of people in any ethnic group use skin tone to justify who’s better,” he says. For his video, he asked dark-skinned African American models to apply white paint to their faces and hair, and light-skinned models to apply black paint. Then he asked them to react in front of the camera as if seeing themselves in a mirror. The viewer sees a range of emotion on the models’ faces, from sadness to surprise to anger. “In black communities, the justification of shadism is till being implemented causing this war of light skin versus dark skin,” says Jamaal, who is a double major in fine art and sociology.
Bobby Klagge has a series of three paintings titled “Spill,” “Shadow” and “Splatter.” He used acrylic paint over plywood rather than canvas for three reasons: it’s cheaper, it can take a beating, and he likes the texture of the wood grain. And he did give his paintings a beating as he experimented with various ways of applying the paint. First he spilled a cup of paint, then he dropped the cup and let it shatter to create a “shadow,” and then he splattered the paint with a paintbrush. “I thought, ‘What if every drop of paint contained a painting in another dimension?’ Then I just kind of dove in,” Bobby says.
In the foreground is “Message is a Heel” by Pamela Ramos. (“High heels make great art but are painful to wear,” she writes in her artist statement.) In the background is “$1,289,” a wedding dress made entirely of toilet paper by Elizabeth Crum. (“The concept of my collection is to make something beautiful from what is otherwise considered trash.”)
This sculpture of plaster, gauze and paint by Robert Azpitarte is titled: “Untitled (P.S. Hey dipshit. I was trying to express myself. That’s why I fucking look like this. You know who you are, asshole).”