Creativity shines during virtual art exhibition, “Pandemical”

Erin Olds performing “Where Is Here” during the live stream.

Artists showcased their talents to kick off the Center for Creativity and the Arts (CCA) first virtual art exhibition, “PANDEMICAL,” on Thursday.

The focus of “PANDEMICAL” was isolation and community, illness and wellness, innovation and social advocacy. Several artists expressed the struggles they have gone through due to COVID-19 through spoken word, poetry, music, painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, video and animation.

“In spite of the setbacks, CCA wanted to find ways to keep the arts alive and thriving in our community,” Cindy Urrutia, director for the CCA, said.

Although the ceremony was held through zoom, “PANDEMICAL” was able to capture the creative works of the featured artists.

Starting off the performances was a music video of the song “Reset” from the band, “Sedan Delivery” 

Jim Connelly, a Fresno State graduate and the band’s drummer, said when the pandemic happened, it became clear the band would have to find a different way to record their songs. 

This is what created the song “Reset,” which Connelly describes as “a song created in isolation about being socially isolated.” They all created their parts of the song separately and through video messages.

“I tried to edit the music video all together so that while it was clear we were in different physical spaces, we shared common musical space,” Connelly said.

Following “Sedan Delivery” was a live spoken word performance by a new group Breakbox called, “I’m So Black, I’m Blue.”

“[This] is a piece about all the ways that blue shows up in black life,” said Jamillah Finley ‘Lila,’ the main speaker for Breakbox.

It was Breakbox’s first performance as a group and one of the works that led to them receiving first place in the “PANDEMICAL” exhibition. 

“When we first started this, we were just trying to find words for what we were experiencing in our bodies,” Finley said. “The trauma of one black body after another being killed.”

Finley said her oldest son was the one who wrote the songs for Breakbox.

Breakbox after hearing they won first place 

Second place was awarded to Endina Castañeda for both her photography, “Salón Vacío – Empty Classroom” and the poem, “You are the Teacher.”

“Salón Vacío – Empty Classroom” by Endina Castañeda

Third place was given to Steven Church for his lyrical essay, “Understanding the Fox,” while Edward Gillum and Jim Schmidt received honorable mentions.

To end off the award ceremony, a preference by Erin Olds was played called “Where Is Here.”

Olds said she was glad the song was chosen to be performed, but she herself does not like to hear it because it is very personal to her. It is about her feelings of being “alone and lost.”

“It’s about the kinds of feelings that you don’t really have while you’re distracted by going places and doing things,” Olds said. “It’s the feeling that sits with you when you’ve been sitting for months and not having the distractions of the world.”

“PANDEMICAL” was not only open to Fresno State students and faculty but also the local community.

“Yes, we are an institution of higher learning; yes, we are an institution of research, but we are also an apart of your community, and “PANDEMICAL” proved that,” Urrutia said. “We all came together as one.”

The “PANDEMICAL” virtual exhibition will be available from Oct. 1 to Nov. 20 on their website here.

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