Imperial Valley College Journalism

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Young Imperial Valley Artists Offer an ‘Obscured Eye’

By Luis Flores
CALEXICO, Calif.– Imperial Valley College art student, Kimberly Alcazar, squinted as she tried to visually connect photographs in a multi-dimensional exhibit during the opening of a local art exhibition.

Alcazar was among dozens of students, teachers, friends, and art fans that gathered at Calexico’s Steppling Art Gallery on Wednesday, October 7, for the opening of the “Obscured Eye” art exhibition.  The opening started at 6:30pm and featured four artists, Alexandra Balestrieri, Jennifer Cuellar, Elizabeth Lopez, and curator Kyle Herrera. The “Obscured Eye” exhibition comprehensively explored “perception, cognition, and the obstacles imposed on them,” through the media of photography, painting, drawing, and interactive mixed media. (Story continued below slideshow.)

“I think [spectators] are allowed to take whatever they want from it,” said Herrera, curator and photography exhibitor, “just as long as they come with an open mind and are willing to be inquisitive.”

Lopez, a former Imperial Valley College student, exhibited five paintings and an installation, an exhibit painted on-site. Lopez explored the themes of globalization, immigration, and Mexican identity using the “sombrero” as a symbol.

“The theme was the obscured eye because each artist has their subjective reality, a lens that they see the world through,” said Lopez about the theme of the exhibit.

The exhibition at San Diego State University’s Imperial Valley Campus was organized by Herrera and his former SDSU professor and current gallery director, Sheila Dollente. It took six months of planning for the exhibit that Herrera hopes broadens the themes of art in the valley.

“I think [the exhibit] has been received very well. I’m very satisfied with the volume of people we’ve received tonight,” said Herrera.

The exhibition will be open Wednesdays, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., through October 25, 2009.

Imperial Valley College art professor Thomas Gilbertson was among the attendees at the exhibit opening. Cuellar and Lopez both took art courses from Gilbertson five years ago.

“I enjoyed it,” said Gilbertson about the exhibition. “It’s really exciting to see them doing really professional work.

Alejandro Cabrera, a 25-year-old IVC art student, said more exhibitions like the “Obscured Eye,” should be held in the Imperial Valley. He says that to gain exposure, artists often need to join exhibitions in Mexico.

Lopez expressed that the lack of interest in the valley that pushes artists to Mexico also introduces cultural tensions. “In Mexican culture, there are a lot of patriarchal traditions here in the valley. It’s been just really frustrating to really see it and really feel it, that yes you’re an artist, but you’re a female,” Lopez said.

Gilbertson plans to offer a course where students will curate IVC’s soon-to-be-built art gallery which burned down a few years ago. The gallery, scheduled to be built by fall 2010, would provide a platform on which to gain exposure, something local young artists are starving for.

“There aren’t really places for students to show their art,” said Cabrera. “Which actually really sucks!”

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