ASU West Campus exhibits art celebrating cultural diversity

The works were created by more than 900 high school students and local artists, many of who come from minority backgrounds

High school students and local artists gathered Feb. 10 on the ASU West Campus to display their artwork celebrating cultural diversity.

"How Traditions Inspire Today's Artists" opened last Friday and features artwork from students in the South Mountain High School Magnet Arts Program, as well as other local artists. The Fletcher Library at the West Campus will be displaying artwork from the high school students and local artists for the next six weeks.

More than 900 students participated in the collection with various artwork. The central idea focused on the artist’s cultural significance, issues or inspirations. South Mountain teachers and ASU staff collaborated together long before the exhibition opening.

Jeff Kunes, a ceramic art teacher at South Mountain, and Erik Erspamer, a visual arts teacher, began planning since February 2016. The teachers are an essential source of help for the students when creating their ideas. 

“A lot of them have never been in an art show and thought their art would be in a public setting,” Kunes said.

Judy Hillman-Butzine, the curator exhibit, said the exhibition will last six weeks.

Margaret Rodriguez, an administrative associate at the Fletcher Library, said she and other staff helped coordinate the exhibit and will be introducing upcoming exhibits with the local Washington Elementary District in March and Glendale High School in April.

Fletcher Library also participates in the purchase of the student’s artwork and have it displayed in the library. This year Selene Corrales, 17, won the coveted prize for her painting The Great Divide. The win wasn’t much of a surprise for her, “I knew it would eventually be in a gallery somewhere,” Corrales said.

Future ASU English major 18-year-old Frieda Avila created pottery that is part of the exhibit. Avila said her vase was inspired both by tribal art and Harry Potter. She said she was excited for her art to be viewed. 

“I felt a little bit proud because this is the first time my art will displayed,” Avila said.

Many high school students are from minority and foreign backgrounds, such as local Persian artist Mitra Kamali

Kamali painted three paintings based on Persian women poets, using the theme of unity. Her reason for including her paintings at Fletcher Library is to bring attention to the poets and educate her audience. 

“This is better than studying in a classroom," Kamali said.

Kamali’s message was for the youth to notice and be informed of greater topics.

“The spirit of the human is the same, this is what I want them to remember,” Kamali said. 

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