Exhibit showcases the diversity and impact of Art department’s former faculty
November 18, 2022
A new exhibit in the University Library Gallery showcases the work of 25 former Sacramento State Art professors who have passed away, highlighting the diversity and impact of the department’s teaching staff over its nearly 75-year history.
“Recycle of Time,” curated by Professor of Art History Pat Chirapravati, features artwork from Wayne Thiebaud, Ruth Rippon, Esteban Villa, and many others whose legacies stretch far beyond University boundaries.
“Many of these artists are not just provincial artists,” Chirapravati said. “They’re not just California artists. They’re internationally known, and many of them became very influential.”
The Department of Art was created in 1948, just a year after Sacramento State’s founding. Tarmo Pasto, whose work is featured in the exhibit, was its first chair.
It became home to not only a high-caliber faculty but also a highly diverse one, Chirapravati said. The Royal Chicano Air Force art collective counted among its members Villa, Jose Montoya, and Ricardo Favela, all of whom are included in “Recycle of Time.” Jimi Suzuki supported and promoted Asian American art students. Frank LaPena and Sylvia Lark were members of Native American tribes. The work of Filipino artist Carlos Villa was recently featured at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.
“We have a lot of Filipino students on campus. How often do we see Filipino artwork? Not much,” Chirapravati said. “You can see how diverse faculty in the department is and was.”
Another featured artist, Masamichi Miyagi, was a close friend of Chirapravati’s, and the two worked together frequently while on the faculty. In 2016, their exhibit “Circle of Time,” in the Kadema Hall open courtyard, was destroyed by vandals. Miyagi died later that year.
“When he passed away I felt very sad because Meech collaborated in so many projects with me,” she said. “I wanted do an exhibition in his memory.”
The pandemic put those plans on hold. In the meantime, several other former faculty passed away, leading Chirapravati, who is retiring, to decide that her final Sac State exhibit would feature their work.
“This is going to be my last semester,” she said. “I’m doing a big project in memory of the time I spent here.”
The pieces in the exhibition come from the Sacramento State Art Collection, the Donald and Beverly Gerth Special Collections and University Archives, and private collections.
Students in Chirapravati’s Gallery Management class installed the artwork and wrote the accompanying exhibit labels.
As arranged in the gallery, many are in conversation with each other, fitting for artists who spent time in the same small but mighty department – often, according to Chirapravati, even sharing the same desks.
A sketch of birds sitting on a branch looks over a statue of the Madonna made out of wooden sticks, evoking a nest. Three separate paintings are arranged in a mini-vignette, depicting a couple in their youth, middle, and old ages.
Chirapravati, who specializes in Southeast Asian art history, said the name “Recycle of Time” evokes the Buddhist theory of reincarnation, which holds that people who die return to lead a new existence. The exhibit’s logo is based on the Buddhist symbol ensō, a circle that is drawn in one or two fluid strokes, which she chose to symbolize reuniting the former faculty. Retired art faculty member Brenda Louie painted the ensō.
“The recycle of time is that the time that has passed, and then we are bringing everybody back together again in this space, from the first founding member, Tarmo Pasto in 1948, and recycling that, all of them in one space together to showcase the beautiful artwork this team, these faculty members created,” Chirapravati said. “That means so much to me.”
“Recycle of Time” runs in the University Library Gallery through Dec. 10. A “Community Day of Remembrance,” during which members of the campus community will share memories, stories, and their appreciation for past and present Art faculty, will take place from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19.
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