No Right Angles: UC Berkeley’s 2010 MFA Exhibition

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Throughout the spring and early summer of 2010, students from Metas at Contra Costa College collaborated with me (Amanda Eicher) as a part of my thesis research in UC Berkeley’s Art Practice Department.

Cuauhtemoc and friends at Metas

Cuauhtemoc and friends at Metas

Works ready to be installed at Berkeley Art Museum

Artworks ready to be installed at Berkeley Art Museum

For the graduate exhibition, we showed evidence of the conversations we’ve been having all semester – talks about home, safety, violence, mentorship, finding one’s voice, and how to confront the biggest issues teens are facing right now. These talks were designed to stretch from Richmond, California to Colima, El Salvador via text messaging – however, much of the work of discovering what we had to say took place in the classroom and, ultimately, in the museum.

Notes from Colima to Metas participants

Chat request from Colima, El Salvador

Finding out that one of the shared issues between Richmond and Colima – gangs – was having a particularly harsh effect in a neighborhood in Colima where houses had no real doors, we decided to use the sculptural medium of doors to document conversation with – and our messages for – participating teens in El Salvador. Ten donated doors from Ohmega Salvage were fitted to doorways in Colima houses, embossed with words from our conversations, and finished for exhibition in the museum. We also decided to show writings from El Salvador and Richmond in the museum, along with the large templates of doorway openings complete with notes on family’s individual needs.

Graphic designs from the conversations and writings…

were translated by parents and friends, then embossed on the wooden doors (writing by Allen Pablo)…

Embossed text on wooden doors

which were then painted and installed in the museum.

Letters embossed on white door

Detail of Cruz Sanchez’ door

Morena Batres and Noemy Sanchez' front door

Morena Batres and Noemy Sanchez’ front door as installed at Berkeley Art Museum

Paper documents from MetaPuentes conversations

Installation view of chat invitations between Richmond and Colima participants; door template for Morena Batres and Noemy Sanchez’ house (Photograph courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum; copyright Sibila Savage)

Installation view of doors and documentation, Berkeley Art Museum

Installation view of doors, documentation at Berkeley Art Museum (Photograph courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum; copyright Sibila Savage)

The installation went well with the help of Berkeley Art Museum and fellow grads from the MFA program! However, the students at Metas were right in the middle of finals and graduation, so they didn’t install during the school days; instead they came for the artist talks and the openings, to present their observations live.

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