Art and science are woven together in “Transgenerational,” the newest installation of the Window Dressing series at the Cerritos College Art Gallery.
The opening reception took place on April 8 from 5-7 p.m., where students were welcomed to enjoy free Little Caesar’s pizza and a variety of snacks, all while they admired the work with the artist themselves: Dawn Ertl.
Ertl’s “Transgenerational” consists of three separate blocks of cotton and wool that represent people being affected by their environments, and how that trauma carries into the genetic code of the generations after them.
A change in the fabric is meant to represent the manipulation of a gene, which is why the last block is filled with lots of color and change.
“One is like the base, and then it becomes more distorted and more mutated as it goes along,” explained Ertl.
She expressed her hope that the piece creates conversation about how the consequences of one’s actions go past their immediate space and how it affects everyone around them.
During the reception, she explained this to the students of Cerritos College and provided the example that events like 9/11 affected generations before in such a way that it carried into our genetics now.
“That’s what art is for,” expressed Gordon Winiemko, a long-time friend of Ertl. “When it gets you talking about things that affect lives.”
However, the most important message that the artist wanted the students to leave with, was to learn to be mindful and know how to interact with the world.
“Treat others the way you want to be treated,” Ertl said. “You’re not just affecting the immediate people around you.”
As a biology major on campus, Joshua Sanchez appreciated the artistic way of demonstrating genetics rather than it always being shown on diagrams.
“It’s interesting how she related your genetic code to your environment,” he stated. “It makes you think about how you change as your environment changes and vice versa.”
Sanchez also suggested that all students take a chance to look at the artwork, because it’d be beneficial.
“It’s like any artwork,” he explained, “You don’t have to see it, but you’re missing out.”
Julio Cesar Ramirez Jr., film major, agreed that the artwork does capture the attention and that the more the audience looks at the artwork, the more interesting it becomes.
“It reminds me of something,” Ramirez stated, “But I’m still trying to figure it out.”
As for the free food, Ramirez admitted it was a good way to convince the students to check out the installation.
The artwork was selected by James MacDevitt, director of the Cerritos Art Gallery and the curator of the Window Dressing series.
To him, the theme of the artwork is very important because a lot of people still tend to think that genes are hardwired and that this is something they cannot change.
“To a certain extent, that’s true,” he admits, “But, recent studies have demonstrated we are still a product of our environment.”
“Not only that, but the environment has an impact beyond just us. It impacts our genetic code and therefore impacts our descendants.”
MacDevitt explained he is very interested in the intersection between art, science and technology and that Cerritos College is the only community college in the state to offer a class teaching the subject altogether.
He chose an artist like Ertl, because they are one that proves art is the “undisciplined discipline” that explores questions that other disciplines tend to overlook and ignore.
“Transgenerational” is the final installation of the Spring 2019 Window Dressing series and is available for viewing until April 19. After that, the windows will be used to showcase student work.
However, Window Dressing is a series that will continue every Spring semester. In that cycle, MacDevitt will continue to engage with new ideas and artists to further inspire the students of Cerritos College.