Showcased on the second floor of Manzanita Hall is “Burning Wall Street,” a 40-foot long diorama of modern Wall Street, with its towering buildings constructed out of matches, its streets paved with play money and its colorful Occupy demonstrators uniquely made of supermarket twist-ties.
The exhibit is the brainchild of Edie Pistolesi, CSUN professor of art and education, who was inspired by an artist featured in the Los Angeles Times, who composed an oil painting of a bank engulfed in flames.
The project was also modeled after “Burning Man,” an annual festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, that’s known for burning a large wooden man in the name of radical expression.
“Burning Wall Street” was constructed by CSUN education students and it was designed to pay homage to the 20,000 teachers who were issued “pink slips” in California throughout March 2012, according to Pistolesi. Actual Occupy slogans such as, “Save our schools” and “Too many pink slips,” are seen throughout the exhibit.
“Many teachers have been sent packing while Wall Street banks and executives are still profiting from bailout money and getting raises,” Pistolesi said.
Over 90 non-art majors tackled the three-week project and Pistolesi said she was thoroughly impressed by their dedication and artistic ability.
“I didn’t give the students much direction,” Pistolesi said. “They really took it upon themselves and worked on it at home and on campus, and I think they ended up producing something really spectacular.”
Claudia Murillo, 21, CSUN liberal studies major who helped shape “Burning Wall Street,” said the project’s theme hit her close to home.
“We want to become teachers,” Murillo said. “And this is our reality. Teachers are being ignored, when they should be given more recognition and resources to do their jobs.”
Jamie Homlaor, 22, liberal studies major, said the project provided an outlet to draw attention to Wall Street’s greed and the struggles of the Occupy movement.
“I had a lot of fun working on this project,” Homlaor said. “It gave us a chance to be creative and really show that we [the students] actually care about what’s going on in Wall Street and in our country.”
The exhibit will be displayed for the remainder of the Spring 2012 semester and will be moved to the art department in the fall.
Once the project has outlived its exhibition, Pistolesi said she and her students will burn it to the ground in “Burning Man” fashion. Pistolesi said security detail and precautions for the burning ceremony will be made, but a location has yet to be determined.
“I’m incredibly proud of what these students have accomplished,” Pistolesi said. “We are the 99 percent and I hope this art project inspires them to want to make a difference.”