Redefining Artistic Expression

Fine Arts Gallery introduces new exhibit, “The School for Endurance Work”.

The Fine Arts Gallery is bringing in the spring semester with a new exhibition. From now until Feb. 21, the 2,800 square-foot space is a school within a school, showcasing the work of community professionals–poets, painters, sculptors, designers, videographers-–to question norms and fight institutionalized knowledge.

Dubbed “The School for Endurance Work” by curator and art professor Carole Frances Lung, the exhibit features everything from haunting body performance art to footage of the Take a Stand Marching Band’s work at demonstrations across Los Angeles.

“To me, this is some of the most interesting work happening in Los Angeles, from my curatorial standpoint,” said Lung. “I was thinking, too, about all the mediums I want students to see and all the ways I want the students to see what art is or what it can be.”

Lung’s concept stems from a ongoing mission to discover a new model of learning, one that could faithfully execute a Deweyan “hands-on” approach.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how we’re still teaching people how to be artists from the Bauhaus model, which is a hundred years old, and that maybe it’s time for a new model,” said Lung.

This gallery could very well be it. Many of Lung’s students are featured in collaboration with professional artists, learning through practice. Art student Gregory Lewis has his team’s fashion design for The Mooniform on display: a political pop culture uniform that uses reusable materials.

“We thought that instead of using already established materials, since we have a lot of trash, our uniform would be made out of those materials, with an abundance of those,” said Lewis.

However, the exhibit also invites gallery visitors to partake in the art itself. In one of the more provocative demonstrations, visual artist Artemisa Clark lies unclothed on the floor, save for some gold spray paint, inviting participants to lay beside her. Drawing attention to the female Chicanx form and the violence inflicted against it, she flirts with death while avoiding performativity of subjecthood. In other words, she resists through stillness.

“The School for Endurance Work” attempts to fill in a void within the Art Department at Cal State LA, one widened by the scarcity of indigenous and experimental art. Lung noted that she doesn’t yet see the sort of visual/performative historical critique she had hoped for at Cal State LA.

“I don’t think every art department can cover everything, but there’s time it kind of fluctuates,” said art professor Mika Cho. “There’s time we have enough, sometimes we lack it, but at the moment, we lack contemporary art and contemporary theories.”

Cho, who runs the Fine Arts Gallery, has seen it evolve over the years and also expand its operations. No longer a mere hub for student work (e.g. College of Arts and Letters Showcase), it now serves as a venue for community artists.

“We’ve been really changing a lot, this gallery, these last two years because first of all, this became the University Gallery and then we still accommodate student work because that’s the most important thing,” she said.