UCR Arts: A deep dive into the museum’s intricate exhibitions

Courtesy of CHASS@UCR

Before UCR Arts emerged in downtown Riverside in 2010, it was initially composed of three separate museums: The Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery (1963), the California Museum of Photography (1973) and the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts (2010). Now known as UCR Arts, the museum offers various exhibitions from UCR professors to deliver unique experiences for the public. 

This week, I had the opportunity to interview third-year art major, Ester Yoon, and this is what she had to say: “I wanted to go into an entry-level, career-related field for personal and work experience. I wanted to work here because UCR Arts seemed like an inspiring place to gain professional experience and also seemed like a refreshing work environment. After working here for several months, I feel more confident with my knowledge of exhibition management, visual arts and art history.” 

Many students majoring in art history could also follow Yoon’s footsteps to explore the various opportunities their major has to offer. UCR Arts is certainly a great step towards a future within art history. 

Upon walking inside the museum, patrons will immediately see the elaborate presentation of labor and production created by UCR Arts Studio Professor, Lynne Marsh. Marsh’s exhibition “Who Raised It Up So Many Times?” is presented in the medium of television presentations and sound speakers to evoke how manual labor is represented in the cinema industry. Marsh uses various mediums such as a German TV news station, an English opera house and more to showcase the different cultural workers that work behind the scenes to create sounds and images for cinema. According to Yoon, Marsh’s work reminds her of contemporary dance combined with labor production. It is certainly a unique exhibition that offers an inside look into the people who work tirelessly to create great cinematic experiences. 

Moving through the first and second floors, UCR Arts professor Brandon Lattu presents his very interactional exhibit. “Empirical, Textual, Contextual” offers a variety of works from small photographic prints, animated slide shows, to an interactive light installation. This light installation also happens to be a fan favorite; it is a giant light bulb in the middle of an empty room that you can move in front of, allowing the light to follow your movement as it reflects off the walls. According to the UCR Arts website, Lattu is presenting his exhibition with different thematic elements to push ideas of photography to animate this medium in sensory and material forms. As an interactive exhibition, it can enlighten patrons’ perspectives about the photography world while also showing them a fun time. 

One of the newly added exhibitions is by Edward Chang who presents “Pachappa Camp.” Chang wanted to represent the first Koreatown in the United States, founded in 1905 by Dosan Ahn Chang. With printed archival photographs and newspaper articles depicting the founding, the exhibition shows the process of how Korean culture emerged in the states, particularly in the Riverside area. Chang makes sure to tell Dosan’s journey in a memorable way to honor his efforts in supporting the Korean American community. Unlike the other exhibitions that have English and Spanish options, Chang only uses English and Korean to represent the history of Pachappa Camp on the exhibition’s walls. “Pachappa Camp” is not only an interesting exhibit to view, but it is also a great way to celebrate history and highlight how Korean culture has shaped modern America. 

Located on the basement level, Anna Wittenberg presents “The Ruminant.” As a former UCR alum, Wittenberg references the class Mammalia in her piece. “The Ruminant” is presented as a floor-bound sculpture made of a tree trunk, recycled products and other disparate materials. The most interesting aspect is the sculpture’s feet which are meant to function like cud. Cud is food brought back into the mouth from a ruminating animal for it to be chewed up again. Ruminating animals are essentially hoofed creatures that are able to ferment their plant-based food in a specialized stomach known as the rumen. In this case, the ruminating animal is the goat that is being represented in Wittenberg’s exhibition. The exhibition also provides a sensory experience through the sound of goats hitting their hooves together. Wittenberg also provides a slide show where images are heavily focused on mammal body parts, specifically the irises of a goat. “The Ruminant” is a complex exhibition that can make many scratch their heads, but it is one worth viewing for a look into ruminating animals. 

UCR Arts also offers a collection of historic photographs by Bruce Davidson. “Lift Your Head: Bruce Davidson and the Evolution of Seeing” highlights the social justice movements that took place during the 1960s. Davidson captured the intimate realities of racism as riots were at the peak of history where freedom was desired. These photographs are able to tell a story without any words needed; they speak for themselves. Davidson produced these photos because of his curiosity towards human connection. Whatever way these photographs are interpreted, each one delivers a deep meaning about the world and how much we have evolved within the social justice realm. 

UCR Arts is currently open from Thursday’s to Sunday’s where free admission is given to anyone, from anywhere. Visit the museum today to venture around the intricate exhibitions where thoughtful perspectives are showcased. 

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