Art has a lot to say these days, and from November 13th to December 9th, 36 California artists will be adding their voices to the mix to memorialize the
dramatic events of the past eight months in the socially distanced Mesa College Drive-In: An Outdoor Art Exhibition (open Monday-Friday from 8am-4pm, excluding school holidays). This free, unique exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to reflect on artwork
from the safety of their cars as they drive through the outdoor display located in
Lot 1 on Mesa College’s campus. Curated by the San Diego Mesa College Museum Studies
class, the art pieces capture the turmoil of the 2020 “new normal,” and provide commentary
on the effects of global illness, social unrest, and destructive wildfires.
Visitors can expect to see various artwork that addresses the radical restructuring
of public and private space due to Covid-19. In Animated Couple, Bhavna Mehta depicts an incongruous relationship, serving as a relatable metaphor for anyone sharing
a living space throughout this pandemic. Also capturing the surreal moment, Remi Dalton’s Hysterical and Ghosted grant a campy view into dystopian isolation through her vivid, high-contrast Victorian
interior paintings that play with the themes of loneliness and delirium in a half-virtual,
half-physical world. Emoji ghosts and conversation hearts create an irony in Dalton’s
fanciful furnished space, ultimately inquiring into what may be lost when we replace
the physical world with the digital.
This exhibit also includes pieces directly related to Covid-19, its spread, and the
toll of forced quarantine. Victor Angelo’s digital work uses a patterned design that mimics the cellular structure of the
virus, while Michelle Montjoy’s free-standing sculpture, Sneeze, directly represents Covid-19 and its spread. Created with fabric, thread, galvanized
pipe, and concrete, Sneeze shows the progression of the illness, beginning with a sneeze’s particles spreading
through the air as rendered through embroidery.
The effects of climate change, seen profoundly in California’s recent series of ravaging
wildfires are also poignantly handled. The fretted linework of Christopher Tucker’s Smoking City plays like the acrid violin of a tragic drama, where a puppet-like woman is suspended
in disbelief as a city’s structures burn behind her. The symbol of the noxious city
is also interpreted by Johanna Poethig’s ULTIMATE TRUTH, where a bright-orange sky is seen to cast a strange glow over the sinister and strange
reality of smoke-born San Francisco.
While much of this exhibition reflects a transformation of society’s public and private
worlds, other pieces highlight political and social outcry as a form of reclaiming
power. Elizabeth Salaam’s Pleasure Seeker is a photomontage that celebrates personal expression and the self-destruction it
inevitably creates, using the body of a black nude woman as a crumbling monument.
The World on Fire painting by Katie Carrion depicts an empowered hero set amidst a burning hillside enjoying a smoke while a
police car burns. Also engaging with the current civil rights movement against police
brutality, Scott Gengelbach’s Shot in the Back co-opts 90’s nostalgia for a call to action.
Capturing the perspectives of our community’s diverse artists, the Mesa College Drive-In: An Outdoor Art Exhibition presents the opportunity to engage with the many difficulties we continue to grapple
with in our current moment. The event itself, serves as a powerful testament to the
resilience and innovation of California’s art community as we reimagine the possibilities
of human connection and empowerment during a time of crisis.
Join us for the free Mesa College Drive-In: An Outdoor Art Exhibition from November 13-December 9, 2020, Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm. Closed weekends and school
holidays. For directions and a full list of the participating artisits, visit the
Mesa College Art Gallery Webpage.
Tags: COVID-19, Drive-Thru Art Exhibit, Art Exhibition, Museum Studies