Butte College Exhibition Thrives in Celebration of Diversity and Identity

The reception was a resounding success, with attendees expressing gratitude for the opportunity to see their own work displayed.

From 2-4 PM, the reception buzzed with excitement as attendees immersed themselves in a kaleidoscope of artworks, ranging from paintings to ceramics to multimedia installations. The atmosphere was further enlivened by captivating open mic music performances, including a special presentation by Ballet Folklorico de Chico, adding a vibrant cultural dimension to the occasion.

In a dazzling showcase of diversity and identity, Butte College recently hosted a dynamic exhibition titled “Thrive: Celebrating our Identifies.” The event, held on Wednesday, April 3, brought together students, faculty, staff and community members to celebrate the rich tapestry of artistic expression within the Butte College community.

“Sip on ‘Drink the Kool-Aid,” for example, is Robin Cox’s rebellious intaglio piece, etched with frustration and a craving for individuality. Cox’s defiance drips from every stroke, urging viewers to resist conformity.

Sip on ‘Drink the Kool-Aid by Robin Cox. (Leo O’Neill)

“Reconstruct” is a captivating mixed media artwork by Sophie Smith that invites viewers to delve into the essence of captured moments and eternal renewal.

“Reconstruct” by Sophie Smith. (Leo O’Neill).

Through a collage of photographs, sketches, and magazine whispers, Sophie unveils her self-portrait, blending personal narratives with hymns of faith. In this mosaic of memories and hopes, witness the interplay of shadows and light, echoing the eternal cycle of reconstruction and renewal.

Shifting Mentalities by Sophie Smith. (Leo O’Neill)

Another piece by Sophie Smith is more than a self-portrait—it’s a visual narrative of the daily battle with the mind’s tumultuous shifts. Through mixed media, Sophie captures the tension between purpose and uncertainty, inviting viewers to reflect on finding joy amid the storms of depression and anxiety. Despite the challenges, the artwork exudes an enduring spirit, reminding us that even in darkness, there’s always a path to light.

Red Heron, also by Sophie Smith, is more than a mixed media piece—it’s a journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.

Red Heron: Spiritual Dimension by Sophie Smith. (Leo O’Neill

Dedicated efforts since November 2021 have shaped this work, reflecting moments of confusion, chaos, and evolving understanding. At its core, the heron symbolizes Jesus, surrounded by dream-like spaces that weave narratives of time and themes of compassion and forgiveness.

Curating such a diverse range of artworks presented its challenges, as Sara Smallhouse, the exhibition’s curator, explained. Balancing cohesion while allowing each piece to shine required careful consideration, alongside practical concerns such as logistics and artwork safety.

Despite these challenges, the reception was a resounding success, with attendees expressing gratitude for the opportunity to see their own work displayed. Sara observed the palpable excitement among attendees from various backgrounds, including those beyond the arts, who brought their families to witness the exhibition. This enthusiasm underscored the importance of creating a positive outcome for participants who courageously shared their stories and identities through their artwork.

The exhibition serves as just one facet of Butte College’s broader Decolonize Week activities, aimed at fostering inclusivity and understanding. Decolonize! was a four-day event featuring workshops and activities geared towards enhancing a culture of inclusiveness on campus. Through sessions led by local, regional, and national experts, attendees gain insight into diversity, equity, and inclusion, empowering them to become leaders both on campus and in the wider community.

Gallery hours extend from Monday to Thursday, 9 AM to 3 PM, providing ample opportunity for further engagement with the diverse range of artworks on display. Additionally, event organizers have ensured ADA compliance, with accommodations available for those in need.

As the celebration continues, the Butte College community eagerly anticipates further exploration of the artworks and the stories they tell, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diverse voices within their midst.

Stainglass by Lisa Gunn. Butte College Art Gallery, April 3, 2024, Leo O’Neill (Leo O’Neill)
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