Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Indigenous Consciousness is theme for exhibition

When Art instructor Rebecca Guzak donated a 6’x9′ canvas to her Fundamentals of Painting and Painting for Art Majors students, she never guessed they would end up creating “some of the best work” she has seen from them.

“[The canvas] generated its own energy,” Guzak said.

A total of 11 students came together to create “Rain of Gold 2013: Indigenous Wisdom,” a large-scale, acrylic painting focusing on the rise of an indigenous consciousness.

The piece features images from cultures throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, fused together to celebrate each region’s indigenous roots.

“The choices [the students] made to weave it all together were fantastic,” Guzak said.

Sociology major Gabriela Ramos, who contributed to the piece, feels the images make a strong statement on their own.

“That’s why we didn’t add colors and only worked with brown, grey, and black.”

The young artist went on to comment on the collaborative aspect of the project.

“We fed off each other’s energy and learned from one another’s technique.”

The project began in February, when Guzak decided to donate the canvas she had built, for her own use as a college student, to her class as a means to challenge the more advanced students.

“I never really resolved this one, so I gessoed over it and let them use it fresh.”

After giving them a theme to work with, “The Human Condition: the Worldwide Struggle to Survive,” Guzak instructed her students to research images from books and magazines.

Art major Edson Martinez found inspiration through different means when he visited author Victor Villaseñor’s ranch with his Chicana/o Literature class and instructor Dr. Frank Gaik.

“It was what Ms. Guzak had been talking to us about,” Martinez said, relating Guzak’s instruction to Villaseñor’s message of the homecoming of an indigenous consciousness.

Based on Martinez’ influence, the class shifted its perspective for the project from one of struggle to one of celebration.

Students stopped flipping through pictures of oppression, and instead formed a collage of smiling faces and dancing women.

“At first it was about pain, what my work is about, but it changed to something positive,” Guzak said.

Rousaint Rosales, graphic design major, explained there is a strong female presence in the piece.

“The woman in the center [baring her torso] is pregnant and represents Mother Earth’s fertility, and the tiger represents power as well as femininity.”

Rosales became so invested in the piece that he took it home during the term’s break to finish as much as he could. 

The final touches were made back at school last Tuesday morning, just in time to submit the mural to the Student Art Exhibition, running from April 22 to May 13 at the Cerritos College Art Gallery.

The class is now working on extending an invitation to Villaseñor to attend the exhibition reception and award ceremony next Thursday from 5 to 8 pm.

“We didn’t have high hopes for this project—thank God for you,” Ramos said to Guzak, placing a hand on her instructor’s shoulder.


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Rebeca Vega, Staff Writer
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Indigenous Consciousness is theme for exhibition