‘Raced and Othered’: art students respond to CSULB museum controversy

A group show organized by Cal State Long Beach art students is showcasing works by self-identified students of color in a continued conversation regarding the university’s firing of its campus museum director days before the opening of an exhibit confronting police brutality against African-Americans.


Raced and Othered, which opened Sunday night at Cal State Long Beach’s School of Art campus, questions what it means to make art as a person of color “in this political moment of resurgent white supremacy and gilded liberal nihilism,” according to the exhibit statement.

Curators Álvaro D. Márquez and Alan Vidali, both MFA students at CSULB, organized the exhibition to give artists a space to show their work in what they feel is still a predominately white environment, despite trends to address a lack of diversity across art institutions.

On display are works from 11 artists in the fine arts and illustration departments, as well as works in sculpture, metals, ceramics and photography.

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Top left: installation by Shima TajBaksh; bottom left: linocut by Álvaro Daniel Márquez; right: weaving by Jillian Thompson. Photos courtesy of MFA student and curator Álvaro Daniel Márquez.  

Márquez, who is studying printmaking, is showing a linocut carving (pictured bottom left) about the displacement of those native to the Los Angeles basin. As one of the curators, he feels Raced and Othered is a way to engage the student community in discussions about creating space for experiences that are oftentimes overlooked.

Currently spurring those discussions is artist lauren woods’ exhibition, American MONUMENT, at the university’s art museum, a project examining the cultural circumstances under which police brutality, institutional violence and anti-blackness occur. She paused the project during the opening last Sunday in protest of the abrupt firing of former museum director Kimberli Meyer.

“lauren woods’ exhibit was such a necessary intervention into this institutional environment; one that pushes cultural institutions to act as stewards of ethical and politically engaged cultural practices,” Márquez said.

While woods—who prefers her name be lowercase—stated that the removal of a key collaborator just days before the launch showed a lack of understanding on the university’s part of the work involved, CSULB officials have stated that letting go of Meyer is unrelated to the contents of the exhibit.

“[…]in the current political context, woods’ exhibit serves as a reminder that art can, and perhaps should, serve to unsettle those who have the privilege to stand outside of issues like white supremacy and police violence,” Márquez said. “That her project was affected by the director’s firing shows poor administrative practices at best, and willful sabotage at worst.”

Raced and Othered will be open through Thursday, Sep. 27 in the Gatov Gallery at CSULB. Gallery hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. and on Wednesday from noon to 7 p.m. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here and CSULB School of Art website here.

Cal State Long Beach is located at 1250 Bellflower Blvd.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.