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Feb 18, 2019
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Darlene Wendels / The Collegian Attendees of the fifth annual Artist Invitational Exhibition “Water in Crisis” talk amongst themselves on Thursday. The exhibition is held in the Conley Art Gallery on campus and features four artists’ artworks through prints, video installations, photographs illustrating the drought in California.

‘Water in Crisis’ exhibition illustrates California drought

Darlene Wendels / The Collegian Attendees of the fifth annual Artist Invitational Exhibition “Water in Crisis” talk amongst themselves on Thursday. The exhibition is held in the Conley Art Gallery on campus and features four artists’ artworks through prints, video installations, photographs illustrating the drought in California.

Darlene Wendels / The Collegian
Attendees of the fifth annual Artist Invitational Exhibition “Water in Crisis” talk amongst themselves on Thursday. The exhibition is held in the Conley Art Gallery on campus and features four artists’ artworks through prints, video installations, photographs illustrating the drought in California.

The current record-breaking drought in California has affected many, from Central Valley farmers to Sacramento politicians – it has also caught the attention of four artists who dedicate their time to raising awareness of the water issue, among other environmental issues through their artwork.

The Center for Creativity and the Arts and the department of art and design brought Isabelle Hayeur, Robert Dawson and Helen and Newton Harrison’s art pieces to campus for the fifth annual Artist Invitational Exhibition, “Water in Crisis.”

On Wednesday, Isabelle Hayeur and Robert Dawson spoke on campus to discuss the exhibition and how it ties into their past and current work. Hayeur said her goal is to get people to be aware of the environmental issues occurring around the world through her artwork.

“I want to show what goes unnoticed,” Hayeur said.

Hayeur started off her lecture by mentioning a water issue she noticed when she was a small child. As a child she and a couple of neighborhood children would swim in a river near her home, a river she said was later polluted by the construction of new homes, an event that inspired her to create one of her photo series depicting homes taken over by the effects of nature.

“They have no relationship with the landscape,” Hayeur said when describing her photo series.

Hayeur is a photographer and a video artist. Her work consists of photos mixed with digital art. She makes collages out of the photos she takes to create her images, mainly of landscapes from all over the world.

Photographer Robert Dawson also spoke on his early beginnings showcasing water crises. His work includes pictures he shot during the drought in the Western United States in the late 1980s. His subjects included dry lands and crops as well as affected people, such as ranchers.

“We need to think about how we get our water,” Dawson said.

His recent work includes a photo series of public libraries in the United States. Libraries, he said, are institutions in which all Americans can find a common ground. Other recent photography by Dawson focuses on the issues that the city of Stockton faces including illiteracy, violence, agriculture, education and poverty.

“My work tends to bring up more questions than answering them,” Dawson said.

Fresno State art professors Dan Nadaner and Nick Potter talked about the process of getting these particular artists to come and present their work.

“The main reason I asked Isabelle [Hayeur] to come is because her work is wonderful, and it goes with the theme of the show,” Nadaner said.

Nadaner and Potter wanted artists whose work brought relevance to what the Central Valley community is going through with the drought. Potter said that the original theme chosen was food and water, but said that the water theme alone brought more relevance to Fresno.

“The water theme seemed important,” Potter said.

“Water in Crisis” will be on display in the Conley Art Gallery until Feb. 27.

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