UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum To Reveal Works Featuring Historical Discord
UCSB’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum will reopen this Saturday to feature five new exhibitions that will take a look at social justice movements throughout the ages, spotlighting Santa Barbara-based events like the 1970 burning of the Bank of America building in Isla Vista.
The five exhibitions consist of “Freedom Now! Forgotten Photographs of the Civil Rights Struggle,” “Year of Rebellion: The 1970 Isla Vista Riots,” “Artist-in-Residence: Fran Siegel, Translocation and Overlay,” “Ambiguous Histories: Selected Work from the Exit Art Portfolios” and “Art and Its Discontents.” Featured works include city landscapes, local art and photographic images. The opening reception of all new exhibitions will take place on Oct. 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
According to Chris Marino, project archivist for the Architecture and Design Collection, the exhibitions are linked together by themes of protest and unrest.
“In the planning stages, they were put together intentionally. But the more exhibits were curated, the more we realized how interconnected they were, so we’re pretty excited,” Marino said.
The exhibition on the 1970 Isla Vista Riots, for example, documents a year during which I.V. residents protested the Vietnam War and relevant UCSB policies. In June 1969, anthropology professor Bill Allen was denied tenure, sparking a great deal of student debate. According to Marino, he was closely aligned with radical politics and had an unorthodox teaching style in which he would even invite students to his house, garnering him the love of students but not necessarily the love of administration. In January 1970, students attempted to take control of the administration building.
Also around that time, the Bank of America building in I.V. — which stood where Embarcadero Hall is currently located — was burned to the ground. The National Guard arrested nearly 300 students when they gathered after the 7:30 p.m. curfew in peaceful protest at what used to be known as Perfect Park, right behind Embarcadero Hall.
Photographs from the Isla Vista Riots exhibition were taken by Joe Melchione, the late award-winning photographer who was an undergraduate photo editor at the time for the UCSB student paper, then named El Gaucho. His photographs will be displayed alongside related issues of the El Gaucho newspaper and flyers created by students, according to Marino.
“I think it’s interesting to look at this in the context of now, and look at all the parallels,” Marino said. “Many of the issues — students grappling with large class sizes and representation in UC governments — are issues that still exist today, but the way they dealt with them back them was very different than now.”
Marino said he believes the “Year of Rebellion” exhibition will inspire students to think about the current situations within their university system.
“I think it might cause people to think about what change can be enacted,” Marino said. “These students were really upset for many different reasons, but in the end they did see changes and increased involvement in the UC government.”
Meanwhile, the “Artist-in-Residence: Fran Siegel, Translocation and Overlay” exhibition features a collection of 50 drawings influenced by geography, such as topography, rock distributions, population dispersals, migratory pathways and the location of swimming pools.
Siegel, the artist of the drawings, has been an artist-in-residence at galleries and other venues worldwide and is currently installing an exhibition in New York comprised of three studies featuring different cities, including Los Angeles, Genoa and Siena.
According to Siegel, the drawings in “Translocation and Overlay” are all the same size and made of translucent drafting mylar, a form of polyester resin used to create heat-resistant plastic films.
“They’re shown one way, but they can be reconfigured in a variety of different ways and reveal different patterns about infrastructure and about how people and landscape interact over time,” Siegel said.
Siegel said the exhibition is also accompanied by a timeline which “shows the chronology of how the history evolved,” although the included drawings are “not placed in that configuration at all.”
“They’re more about how history shapes the present-tense, deliberately taking the idea of time and distorting it and bringing it all up to the present,” Siegel said.
Siegel said she is interested in discovering how different places are organized and structured by the cultural groups who inhabit them, and she makes an effort to convey the element of movement as opposed to stillness. Such a view is given by observing one place from a wide variety of perspectives and angles, she said.
“I wasn’t so much interested in Santa Barbara per se, except I thought it was a really interesting microcosm, especially because the city is a kind of utopia,” Siegel said. “In all kinds of utopias, there’s a kind of failure, in a way, in its relationship to nature. Nature impinges itself on the city through earthquakes and landslides, and so I wanted to do drawings exploring that, but also how people interact with nature.”
Curator of Exhibitions Elyse Gonzales said she hopes students will enjoy recognizing familiar landmarks, while simultaneously learning about those they may have never seen.
“[The images] are beautiful to look at but are also fascinating little snippets of Santa Barbara,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said the exhibition also ties in with the theme of multi-department collaboration at UCSB.
“What I really like is it is very much an interdisciplinary project,” Gonzales said. “It relates to many sciences and history, as well as art.”
Another exhibit, “Freedom Now! Forgotten Photographs of the Civil Rights Struggle,” focuses on historical photographs of the Civil Rights Movement that are not commonly seen in mainstream media. “Ambiguous Histories: Selected Works from the Exit Art Portfolios” showcases works from Exit Art, an alternative art space which, although now closed, allowed multicultural and emerging artists to display art touching on social issues. Finally, “Art and its Discontents” contains work from over 12 artists that address discontent over issues including politics, identity, race and gender.
All exhibitions will be up until Dec. 13, with the exception of “Translocation and Overlay,” which will be displayed until April 19, 2014. The museum’s regular hours are from noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, and admission is free.
Photo courtesy of museum.ucsb.edu
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of Wednesday October 16th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.