A whitewashed, stripped-down room in the Claire Trevor School of Arts bustled with students, artists, and many others last Thursday evening for an art exhibit called “Infinite Boundaries” organized by the UCI Art History Undergraduate Association (AHUA).
The room served as a blank canvas for the student board members of AHUA, who curated art submitted by students of diverse backgrounds, professors, alumni and members of the organization Friends of Art History (FOAH).
The theme and name of the exhibit were inspired by the size and diversity of the UC Irvine student body. The individual pieces of art from 13 different artists were wildly different: there were digital images on canvas; acrylic paintings; drypoint etching and photos from Burma, New York, and Kenya by three different photographers. All were appropriately curated under the theme “Infinite Boundaries.”
Walking from one piece to another created the feeling of looking through different pairs of eyes. Viewers could take in the experience of visiting Honduras by looking at pictures taken by third-year art history and international studies double major Cynthia Romero, who displayed two photographs titled “El Grito Maya,” a weathered Mayan monument; and “Frutas Frescas,” a neat fruit cart with color that displayed the precision of Romero’s perspective.
Next to these artworks hung photographs representing different perspectives of New York City. Bryan Munoz, a fourth-year criminology, law and society major, took these pictures during a trip to New York City to visit law schools. In an act of getting away, he took a day off for himself and went up to Rockefeller Center to capture the essence of what NYC meant to him. Munoz wants to be a lawyer by profession and a photographer by hobby. He displayed seven photographs from his trip, five of which were in black-and-white. The titles he assigned accentuated the photos: a photo titled “See It Through My Eyes” showed another photographer on a rooftop with a camera to his face overlooking the NYC skyline. Another, “Argentine Love” captured a visiting couple’s affection for both the city and each other.
Some of the other highlights of the exhibit were two large paintings titled “Home” and “Let it Go,” which were created by studio art major Lynette Zheng. “Let it Go” was inspired by the Disney film “Frozen” and featured a white, snowy mountain range against a purple background. Zheng painted the mountain range with so much white pigment that it began to crack, giving the painting a realistic appearance of a mountain range. However, the lines of the mountain were very straight and did not resemble actual curves of a mountain range. Zheng juxtaposed these two different styles to give the viewer a taste of reality versus unrealistic representation.
Artists stood near their pieces and were willing to discuss their work with anyone interested. The exhibit fostered a complementary relationship between artists and students, both of whom were glad to be in a room where they could appreciate each other.
“We wanted to bring an art-loving community together, and foster an art community that existed outside of the art school,” Franny Acosta, AHUA president and fourth year art history major, said. Students from any major or background were allowed to submit pieces for the show, which created an inclusive environment: art is accessible and can be enjoyed by everyone.
The AHUA student board members admitted to being sleep-deprived to put on this modest, yet wildly successful event. The engaging conversations between artists and students in the room proved that the AHUA members had given up sleep for a great cause. Members also gave due credit to the faculty support they received — Art History professor Cecile Whiting was in attendance; she advised club members and supported them throughout the process of putting this event together.
The AHUA exhibit was a grassroots attempt to make art accessible. The event did not receive any funding; the AHUA members organized the show as a testament to student will power and faculty support. It was only up for a day, but the enthusiasm in the room made that day worthwhile for everyone in attendance.