The “Burning Wall Street” exhibit goes up in flames

Edie Pistolesi’s exhibit “Burning Wall Street” burns to the ground in the outdoor sculpture area of the art department. Pistolesi organized and worked on the project for more than a year with her students. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Michael Battle, 34, an art education major writes out in chalk the word “greed” for the “Burning Wall Street” exhibit on Oct. 13. Edie Pistolesi the organizer of the exhibition said “As people walk down the side walk they will see the word greed repeated and they will see the specific crimes of the banks.” Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
For the “Burning Wall Street” exhibit, cellophane full life figures were placed outside the art galleries in the art department to represent the 47% who are not heard in the political arena. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Kirsti Jackson, 23, liberal studies major, collects the occupier models, so that the Wall Street builds could be moved to the sculpture area in the art department to be burned. Edie Pistolesi, the organizer of “Burning Wall Street”, said “it (Burning Wall Street) symbolizes our expression of frustration at a government that doesn’t seem to care about the 99% anymore and its just that powerful expression that I want to unify everyone.” Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
CSUN students and attendees “save the occupiers” before they moved the Wall Street builds to the sculpture area in the art department to be burned. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
CSUN students and attendees help move the “Burning Wall Street” models to the outdoor sculpture area of the art department on Oct. 13. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Artist, Alex Schaefer, sprinkles a combination of different shredded financial newspapers and magazines onto the “Burning Wall Street” exhibition. “The special secret ingredient was little a packet of federal reserve notes that I got from a tour that I took of the federal reserve bank in Los Angeles” he said. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Ken Sakatani, chair of the Art Department, sets the “Burning Wall Street” exhibit on fire on Oct. 13. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Edie Pistolesi’s exhibit “Burning Wall Street” burns to the ground in the outdoor sculpture area of the art department. Pistolesi organized and worked on the project for more than a year with her students. After the burning, Pistolesi said, “It was great, it was perfect, it was incredible, it was everything that I imagined it to be especially when it started falling over. The flames got really high, it was the best.” Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor
Ken Sakatani, Chair of the Art Department, puts out the flames from the “Burning Wall Street” exhibit on Oct. 13. “Artists have always been the ones who raise the questions and also ask questions and raise through their art certain issues that maybe need to be looked at” said Sakatani. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor

The “Burning Wall Street” installation, a miniaturized “Occupy Wall Street” made of matchstick banks, twist-ties and candy wrappers, went up in flames at its closing ceremony Saturday.

Edie Pistolesi, art education professor at CSUN, organized “Burning Wall Street” and worked on the project for more than a year with her students.

“We had to make our statement,” Pistolesi said about burning the exhibit. “The idea of burning something, an effigy, is very powerful, and burning this will be cathartic.”

This exhibit at the CSUN Art Gallery was dedicated to the “99 percent” and involved 200 students in its creation. Artist Alex Schaefer’s paintings of burning banks inspired the project.

Schaefer said he loved the fact that Pistolesi was able to see his art on the Internet and get him involved.

“I’m honored to be a part of this,” Schaefer said. “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Students in Pistolesi’s art classes decorated the sidewalk with descriptions of bank crimes with chalk. Phrases like “bid rigging,” “drug money laundering,” and “loan application fraud” lined the pathway where people carried the display to the burn site.

The entire installation was sprinkled with a souvenir bag of shredded money from the Federal Reserve and burned in less than five minutes.

Jennifer Perlin, a junior liberal studies major and art minor, watched the art she helped construct burn to the ground.

“It’s kind of hard to see something we have worked for go down in flames, but the symbolism was awesome,” said Perlin, 20.

Pistolesi said she made her students research the Occupy Wall Street movement and the “99 percent” before they participated in the exhibit’s construction.

“They had to understand it before doing it,” Pistolesi said.

If students disagreed or did not want to participate in the project, they had the option to complete a different assignment.

Valerie Jauregui, junior liberal studies major, said she enjoyed her art class uniting over such a serious issue.

“I am going to be a teacher, and I don’t want a pink slip just because our banks are greedy,” said Jauregui, 20.

Pistolesi said she and her students added more “occupier” figurines to the display after 20,000 California teachers were laid off earlier this year.

Tania Cora, senior art education major, is a student of Pistolesi’s who helped add more “occupiers” into the display.

“I know so many people who can’t get a job even with a master’s degree,” said Cora, 24. “We’re here to inform people on what’s going on in the government.”

Dr. Ken Sakatani, chair of CSUN’s art department, said he saw “Burning Wall Street” as a “valuable, collaborative, yearlong educational project.”

“This is something that engages students in political and social issues,” Sakatani said. “For students to question that through art is a great thing.”

Sakatani said the department went through all the levels of safety and risk approval for the burning, which took place in the outdoor sculpture area of the art department.