The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Latinx art exhibit opens on campus

Featured artist Verano Zamorano describes their piece “Somos Conectados Por Siempre, 2023” to a friend on on Feb. 1, 2024, at the CSUN Art Gallery in Northridge, Calif.

The room buzzes with excitement and anticipation as guests enter CSUN’s West Gallery on a rainy Thursday, Feb. 2, for the reception of the “Latinx Roots, American Sacrifices” exhibition.

The exhibit is a collaboration between Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A) and the CSUN Art Galleries. M.E.Ch.A is a US-based organization that stands for Chicano unity and empowerment. Zai Vasquez, a member of the CSUN chapter for three years, is one of the students who helped bring the exhibition to fruition.

“I’ve always loved this space and thought there should be more collaboration with the Chicano studies department and the art department since they’re so close,” Vasquez says. The Art and Design Center, which houses the art galleries and art classes, sits across from the brick bungalow known as the Chicano house, where M.E.Ch.A holds their meetings.

Early last school year, Vasquez began talking with exhibitions coordinator Erika Ostrander about the idea of the Chicano group working with the art gallery. Once art galleries director Holly Jerger was hired in April 2023, the three began meeting on Zoom with the M.E.Ch.A board to formulate the show.

Jerger says that most galleries, including CSUN’s, typically plan for months or up to a year in advance. However, with the recency of her hiring and the previous conversations being held in place, the gallery was able to find a slot for the expo early on in the year.

The exhibition is juried, meaning a theme was chosen with a callout sent to students, with any student able to submit. The juror is Track 16 Gallery director Sean Meredith, who selected which pieces would be presented.

The theme for the exhibit, “Latinx Roots, American Sacrifices,” centers on the risks and challenges Latinx families face from having to move to a different country for a better life. Many of the students’ work honors their loved ones who made sacrifices and haven’t had a chance to have their stories told.

An example of this can be found in student Harmony Vasquez’s piece, “Bisabuelas, 2023.” The oil-on-canvas painting depicts their great-grandmothers Estefena Guzman-Slater and Juanita Gomez Olivas. Marigolds, a flower and symbol associated with the Day of the Dead, lie between the matriarchs, with nopales peppering the background as a symbol of resilience.

The art galleries are free entry, and the exhibition is open until March 14. The gallery is open Monday through Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m., Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., and is closed Sunday.

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