Fresno State students displayed their artwork about their study abroad experience in London during ArtHop last month inside the M Street Gallery in downtown Fresno.
“The exhibition brought into fruition all of our research and developed works that addresses art and culture in postcolonial London,” said graphic design student Sarah Muller.
These pieces were created with a variety of mediums including: acrylic, mixed media, digital, and photography. Each artwork was extremely unique and varied in their meaning.
Muller and Tony Xiong, another graphic design student, had the opportunity to travel to London last winter. They were both awarded the Edward O. Lund Foundation Scholarship, a scholarship designed to assist Art & Design students to study abroad, which paid most of their expenses for the trip.
While studying in their Art and Empire class, they focused on the art and culture of postcolonial London in relation to the British Empire. During their three week journey, they visited three museums a day, went to galleries, visited Stonehenge, attended plays, and even went to private collections. As part of the class requirements, they sketched out famous artworks and the things that inspired them.
As a reflection to his time in London, Xiong created a digital illustration in a movie style poster called “Art and Empire Class to London Winter 2022.”
This piece displayed portraits of all his classmates and professor who were there with him in London. I felt it was the people who joined him that impacted his experience in London the most because they felt like home.
“I believe I truly can make anywhere home as long as I feel a sense of belonging,” said Xiong.
One of Muller’s pieces was a reflection of London’s historical events during the Maritime trade and some of the darker details from this time. Her art piece was called “Through the Porthole” created with mixed media. It was a combination of digital, photography, acrylic, chalk and paper on canvas:
“A portal of the past and present. Inspired by looking through the portholes of the Cutty Sark, a British tea merchant ship built in 1869, and passing the Queen’s House in Greenwich on a boat along the Thames River. Much of the British Empire was built upon its wealth from the sugar and slave trade. This piece contemplates the darker history behind the idyllic symbols of the British monarchy.”
Xiong felt going to London taught him to aim high in life, to travel more, and that anything is possible. “I know it’s possible to do anything now, especially being around peers who push me to be myself and to pursue what I want.”
Muller felt that London taught her so many things. She learned about herself and what she is capable of navigating through a town without using her device for guidance. She opened herself up to being fully present in a new environment, culture, and society. She met locals and listened to their stories about life in London and their opinions about the United States.
“It taught me how resilient human beings [are] and their ability to assimilate and persevere from displacement, war, loss and poverty,” said Muller.
Attending this art gallery and seeing my fellow Fresno State peers’ work displayed was beautiful. It was a unique experience to be surrounded by art that represented an interpretation of London and its rich history.