Aug 05, 2020

Art with a message

Consuelo Underwood works on her art piece as student
interns work on a mural behind her.
Esteban Cortez / The Collegian

Politics and art are two subjects that are often discussed amongst people. Some artists choose to use politics as a means to find inspiration. By using art, they convey the importance of political issues. One such artist, Consuelo Underwood, uses art to discuss an important political issue: immigration.

Julia Bradshaw, from the department art and design at Fresno State, made the proposal to bring Consuelo’s work to Fresno. Julia explained that the gallery is used primarily for exhibiting students’ work.

The gallery committee, chaired by professor Nick Potter, tries to bring professional artists at the beginning of each semester.

One reason Bradshaw suggested Consuelo was because she was looking for an artist who had strong views on both immigration and labor.

“Because Conseulo was born in Sacramento, but is of Chicano and Huichol Indian descent, she approaches the topic of labor and immigration from the standpoint of three cultures,” Bradshaw said.

Another factor was that students will be able to experience an artist whose work comes from political and spiritual places.

“Answering the question ‘why we make art’ is sometimes the hardest part of the art making process. Consuelo embodies one approach to that question,” Bradshaw said.

Consuelo uses an approach that is described as “fiber art.” This is done by using textile materials. Needle, thread, wire, safety pins, and rocks are just some of the materials used in her art.

“The more humbler, the more beautiful they are and the more important they are to me,” Underwood said.

Showing her work at a college campus is important to Consuelo. She likes the idea of young college students seeing and, hopefully, being impacted by her work.

“It’s the young folk. Those are metaphors for flowers. I get to affect the young folk that will be leaders of the nation hopefully down the line,” Underwood said.

The series that will be showcased at the Conley Art Gallery, “Undocumented Borderlands,” will consist of four major pieces and 15 minor pieces. This will be the first time Consuelo has been to Fresno. She always wanted to come, but in the past plans fell through for whatever reason.

Two graduate students, Eliana Saucedo and Isabel Barraza, were available to help Consuelo and Bradshaw setup the gallery in anticipation for the event.

Both were excited to help. One of the tasks was to create a mural for the show. The mural was previously done in night colors. For the show, the mural would be redone in day colors.

Saucedo and Barraza hope those attending will take something away from Consuelo’s work.

Barraza sees the topic of immigration as an unspoken one.

“I want people to come in with an open mind,” Barraza said.

Saucedo hopes that the audience will relate to the subject matter. She wants the viewers to develop an personal connection. She wants them to see immigration from a different perspective than on television and the news.
When asked if Consuelo had any advice, she simply responded, “Life is short, make it count.”

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