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Cal State Fullerton’s Begovich Gallery hosts visual arts lectures in 2021

"Distress," 2019, by Mark Steven Greenfield
“Distress,” 2019, by Mark Steven Greenfield, one of the pieces considered in Cal State Fullerton’s Begovich Gallery’s visual arts lecture series.
(Courtesy of CSUF)

Cal State Fullerton’s Begovich Gallery’s visual arts lecture series for spring 2021 kicks off on Friday afternoon with visual artist Mark Steven Greenfield.

The series, open to the public, is meant to introduce students and the community to a range of artists, educators and filmmakers. The gallery organized the lectures in partnership with faculty members in the visual arts department.

Jennifer Frias, director and curator of the Begovich Gallery, stated via email, “We wanted to invite a range of creative interdisciplinary practitioners whose work fosters greater understanding of contemporary art touching on topics from studio process ... to practices that respond to current social issues.”

Greenfield’s work, for example, is concerned with the African American experience and often critiques an American culture that he said is still grappling with the consequences of slavery and racial injustice.

His work relating to the history of blackface and minstrelsy was presented in a 2014 retrospective at the California African American Museum. His most recent work, shown at the William Turner Gallery in Santa Monica in 2020, focused on depictions of the Black Madonna, the Virgin Mary icon with dark skin that began appearing in the 13th and 14th centuries throughout Europe.

“I was taking those classical paintings by Bellini and Raphael and Da Vinci, and I was Black-ifying them,” said the artist last year to the Los Angeles Times. “When I was taking art history as an undergrad, we used to have to dissect these works, but this was liberating because I could just play with it.”

"Candyman," 2016, by Leonard Suryajaya, .
“Candyman,” 2016, by Leonard Suryajaya, part of a lecture series presented by Cal State Fullerton.
(Courtesy of CSUF)

The next lecture on March 15 features Leonard Suryajaya, a CSU Fullerton alumnus. Suryajaya was one of the artists in the exclusively online 2020 exhibition “Within Global Isolation: Asian Artists in America.” The show responded to the uptick in racially motivated incidents toward people of Asian descent reportedly brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

In “Candyman,” Suryajaya takes a photo of a family in a single room wearing face masks. The photo was taken in 2016 during Zika virus outbreaks.

“At the time when I made the photograph, the face masks didn’t do anything to protect you against the mosquitos that carry the Zika virus,” Suryajaya said in the interview accompanying the exhibit. “However, it visually represents a heightened and alarmed state. It also represents the commonness amongst my Asian family in wearing masks. It is a device of safety and comfort when they go out or when they choose to. You can call it a fashion statement.”

Artists Angela Washko, Miwa Matreyek, Pascual Sisto, Valerie Green and Sandy Rodriguez are scheduled as guest speakers throughout March and April. The 2021 schedule and Zoom links are available online with no registration required.

Last year’s lectures, which were also held online, featured William Carmago and Paul Mpagi Sepuya with about 160 attendees.

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