“The residency gave me space to be creative again,” said Art Division student Juan Bautista, who works under the name of Nauj Leunam, as they surveyed the Art Division gallery where their newest prints were on display along with cyanotypes by Ry Essi, also an Art Division student.
Soy Bellisima, DIVX, and Cosas del Amor, Juan’s black-and-white linoleum prints on paper, interrogate visions of femininity and gender with their portrayals of powerful divas. Glimmering Seeds features highlights from Ry’s journals. The works, cyanotypes on wood, silk, and cotton using found collected foliage and negatives, have an underwater, otherworldly feel, with hands, body parts, sea life and handwriting, all floating as if in a dream.
Ry and Juan were chosen to participate in Art Division’s first Artist-in-Residence Program, which began in March 2023. The program provides selected Art Division students with the time, financial assistance, facilities and creative space to experiment with techniques new to them and impress deeper meaning into their art practices.
“In the gentlest and most generative ways, the residency made me refocus,” Juan said. “It gave me space and time and energy to put ideas into practice and workshop them.”
Ry agreed. “My experience with the residency pushed me past my creative limits into unknown terrain that led to whole worlds of possibility,” they said. “Receiving this opportunity allowed me to grapple with what it takes to make a cohesive show and how to install it. Certain plants that were once musing seeds became key players in weaving all of the pieces together.”
The residency was conceived and run by Art Division Special Programs Coordinator Luis Motta in order to offer advanced students the opportunity to push their work to a new level. The residents were given studio space, a stipend for expenses, critiques from visiting artists and assistance with hanging the final installation.
“What’s rewarding is being able to give students access to this kind of support,” Luis said. “Having space and a gallery show at the end is really motivating.”
Juan agreed. “The print shop here was pivotal,” they said. They particularly appreciated the support of Printmaking instructors Javier Carillo and Victor Reyes. “Getting that validation was key,” Juan said. “I studied printmaking in college and I’ve been trying to find my way back in. And this is right in my backyard.”
“Edge of Yearning” will run through August 26, 2023 in the Art Division gallery.
On Saturday, July 24, over mocktails and charcuterie platters, Art Division’s 2022-23 Scholarship recipients raised a glass to celebrate their triumphs this past year: time management, juggling work with classes, pushing their artistic boundaries, staying strong during high-pressure deadlines and even weight loss. For each of them, there were times when they weren’t sure they could get through the year–but all of them persisted, completing the academic year with excellent grades and glad for the way the scholarship fund eased their financial burden. “I’m super-glad that I could be stress-free about my financial situation,” said Leslie Martinez, currently studying for a BA in Studio Art at CSU Long Beach, to general agreement.
They bonded over the shared experience of being transfer students, often having taken time off after community college and being a bit older than their peers. In addition, at prestigious 4-year colleges, they were often surrounded by classmates who came from more privileged backgrounds and did not understand the obstacles they had overcome. “I felt the community support from Art Division, and it helped me thrive as a first-generation student,” said Shanine Jaimes, who is currently studying for her Master’s in Social Work at CSU Los Angeles.
Though Art Division’s classes are free, many of our students also attend college, often while financially supporting themselves and even family members. Almost all of our students will be in the first generation in their families to achieve this goal. With tuition skyrocketing everywhere, even full financial aid doesn’t cover the cost, especially at UC’s or private colleges.
On top of tuition, our students often face other expenses: rent, food, metro passes or gas and parking, computers, books, art supplies. Some of our students are helping to support family members. These expenses can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Sometimes, these expenses may force students to drop out.
“The financial support from the scholarship helped me through rough moments and really provided a sense of stability for me,” said Kata Garcia de la Rosa, who just completed her first year as an undergraduate transfer student at UC Santa Cruz in Cinema and Digital Media studies.
Since 2021, Art Division has been able to give scholarship funds to support our students who are in college and make sure they can graduate. In 2021-22 we awarded 11 scholarships and 2022-23 we awarded 13, ranging from $500 to $5,000 depending on need. In 2022-23, we gave a total of $50,000 to our scholarship recipients.
Scholarship students also talk regularly to Art Division College and Career Counselor Ellie Herman, who checks in at least once a month to make sure they have everything they need, celebrate successes and brainstorm ways to overcome challenges: homesickness, a dreaded math requirement, an apparently impossible assignment, a TA strike on campus.
“It was extremely helpful to check in with Ellie every month. The meetings helped me process the stress I felt at various moments throughout the semester,” said Bryson Nihipali, who just completed his junior year at USC, where he is majoring in Communications.
For 2023-24, with many of our scholarship students headed for graduation and a new group of students just beginning, Art Division Artistic Director Dan McCleary and artist John Nava held a one-day fundraiser at the gallery, selling hand-colored prints to raise funds. The event was so successful that they were able to raise all the money needed for the fall semester.
If you’re interested in contributing to our scholarship fund for Spring 2024, please contact Dan McCleary at email@example.com.