Recently, I visited William Rolland Gallery to see the exhibit “Pathos Along a Contemporary Frontier: Border Paintings.” I witnessed profound paintings depicting different forms of violence present along the United States and Mexico border.
The artwork was created by the Mexican artist Rigoberto Alonso Gonzalez, but the exhibit at California Lutheran University was curated by Bravo Fine Art consultant, Joseph Bravo.
Although the topic was violence, the paintings were anything but gory. Instead, they encouraged one’s imagination to wander.
Surprised and pleased that Cal Lutheran had an exhibit addressing an important social topic, I began to wonder how many other students have had the opportunity to view the exhibit.
I asked about 50 students about the exhibit. The majority said they had not heard of it and a couple of students were surprised to hear that we even had a gallery in the William Rolland stadium.
Curator of Collection and Exhibitions Rachel Schmid said previous exhibits that dealt with lighter topics such as chemistry or map-making were more regularly visited.
Immigration is a subject that comes with varying opinions, especially in this political climate, but it is of great importance.
Border violence is often overlooked by the media not only in the United States but in other countries. Without calling attention to subjects like this, it’s difficult for people to truly understand the bigger picture in terms of immigration and why people decide to migrate.
The Center for Equality and Justice and the Center of Cultural Engagement and Inclusion offer incredible programs covering a wide variety of subjects like immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Latinx heritage, intersecting identities, the LGBTQ community and more.
I asked the same students whether they had attended previous social justice or cultural events put on by either the CEJ or the Cultural Engagement and Inclusion center. Once again, the majority of students said they had not attended any events put on by either center.
Being involved on campus and discussing taboo matters is a way for students to widen their perspectives and to be well informed.
“There are things that are happening locally, nationally, globally that students need to care about and be aware at minimum,” said Jonathan Gonzales, senior coordinator for the Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion.
Gonzales said the mission as a university is to, “create leaders for global society.” Therefore, program planning is focused on how to prepare students as inclusive leaders that can have hard discussions about race, sexual orientation and gender identity.
“I want everybody on this campus, faculty and staff included to want to do better. So I think by attending the types of programs that we’re doing, we’re challenging people to grow and do better in different areas,” Gonzales said.
Discussions on topics such as these allow students to not only share their opinions and beliefs but it also allows underrepresented students to find a place where they can see themselves represented.
Director of the Center for Equality and Justice, Cynthia Duarte said that through the center there are opportunities arising to take a hands-on approach to some social justice issues.
She said that through the CEJ there is an internship called the Immigrant Empowerment Advocacy program which allows students to work over the summer with different nonprofit organizations that’s tailored to immigration.
“I think there’s a good segment of students who want to be socially aware and I know there’s a good segment of students who want to know how to be involved,” Duarte said.
As students, we should not only care about social justice and cultural issues but get involved. Doing so will help us be well-educated, and will foster change for a future that is more equal and diverse in thought.