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Neil Chowdhury stands with his displayed images at M Street Graduate Art Studios on Thursday, Sep.1, 2016. (Yezmene Fullilove/The Collegian).

A hopeful Renaissance at Fresno State

The Fresno State Department of Art and Design presented “Faculty Works” at M Street Graduate Art Studios on Sept. 1.

“Faculty Works” is an art exhibit in which faculty and staff of Fresno State display their pieces to the public.

The event is held in conjunction with Fresno’s ArtHop held in Downtown Fresno and the Tower District.

In the M Street Graduate Art Studios building, 1419 M Street, you will find artwork of all kinds such as photography, paintings, multimedia rooms and sculptures.

Over the course of the night, students, faculty and staff mingled as they discussed artwork and what their artwork means to them.

Neil Chowdhury, assistant professor of photography at Fresno State, discussed his passion for artwork and the university’s department of art and design.

Chowdhury had on display a series of photographs he sought out for 13 years. He said the working title is “46 Lahiri Lane.”

“This is really important work for me because it’s a culmination of 13 years of visits to India, trying to learn more,” said Chowdhury.

The series is about his grandfather’s house in India where his father grew up.

“I never got to meet my father’s side of the family, so I had to go back once he died,” he said. “I’m doing a lot of research about where I came from.”

Chowdhury credits his drive to teach students to his own passion for art.

“If I wasn’t excited about making art, then the teaching part would be a drag. You’ve got to be into it,” Chowdhury said. “The energy carries through to my students.”

Due to the faculty and staff being on campus most often, he says this is a great way to introduce artwork to the community outside of the university.

Chowdhury says he likens “Faculty Works” to an art embassy, in regards to showcasing the university’s department of art and design talent in a localized setting.

Displaying artwork produced by Fresno State faculty and staff is also a way to attract future aspiring artists to seek an art and design degree from Fresno State.

“I feel like that message hasn’t gotten out that much. It’s been a long time since there’s been an active photography program and an art and design program,” Chowdhury said. “I feel like I’m coming into this ground where there isn’t a real tradition or track record, at least not in the recent past. We would like to revive that.”

One of the things Chowdhury would like to see is more students getting involved.

“We need to create a critical mass so that we have a dynamic environment… a little bit of competition so the students push each other and raise the bar,” he added. “I know the potential is there. I know the students are out there. They just need to have that sense that this is the place where you come and learn about photography.”

“The more students we have coming in, the more energy there is,” Chowdhury said.

  • Neil Chowdhury

    I am happy to see this story to help get the word out about some of what we are doing in Art and Design, but I feel that some of what I said here needs to be put into a larger context. We were talking about photography specifically so I didn’t get into the fact that Fresno State’s Art & Design Department has a very long and rich history of well known faculty and alumni doing significant art making, writing, and teaching. It’s the place of photography within that mix that’s been a little more “underdeveloped” in recent years. I’m working to create a more visible presence for photography at Fresno State, one successful student at a time, but what goes unsaid, and should have been highlighted, is that this would not be possible without the support of a terrific art and design program within the College of Arts and Humanities. The place of photo within a strong matrix of visual arts that’s already established builds a solid foundation for students wanting to study photography at Fresno State. Students will learn to become great photographers in my classes but the breadth of the education they receive at Fresno State helps them become well rounded artists who have a broad understanding of how their work functions within a cultural context, rather than just specializing narrowly in a single medium.