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Davis, California

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Art on a budget

Ah, the budget cuts. Where else can we put all the pain and misery other than channeling it through a little artwork?

Next week, the Student Recruitment and Retention Center (SRRC) and the Teaching Resources Center (TRC) will be co-hosting Academic Inclusion: Undoing Marginalization, an art exhibit that attempts to portray the different ways the UC community has been affected by the budget cuts.

The art exhibit, held at the Memorial Union Art Lounge, will run from Jan. 11 to Feb. 9. It will feature poems, paintings, quotes and posters from protest events.

Sumer Seiki, a graduate student from the School of Education, is the head coordinator for this project. “I felt inspired after hearing people’s personal stories,” she said. “I wanted to contribute to the issue in a way that best represented me and my voice.”

“I want to send my kids to a UC someday, and I realize that with the fee hikes, I may not be able to afford it,” she said. “We need to think about why California has chosen not to invest in its students, and decide collectively if we think this is best for the next generation.”

The exhibit combines aural and visual stimuli to humanize the issues regarding the budget cuts on a more personal level.

“It’s important that we provide information on the mechanism by which it happened. It will help to tell a side of the story that is not heard,” Seiki said.

The featured artwork will also discuss topics such as why we need state money, whether or not privatization is the answer to making up for the loss of state funds, where we can receive funds and how we – as a community – can take action.

One major funder of this event is the SRRC, a student run center that focuses on political and cultural awareness among students.”

“Our main goal is to address educational equity,” said program consultant Mayra Llamas. “We thought it would be a great fit to address the budget cuts and how that affects educational access to under-represented students. The exhibit may be able to demonstrate the inequalities that these students face day to day

In order to be considered as a featured artist at the exhibit, there were no restrictions. Anybody who felt directly affected by the budget cuts was able to submit their work to be chosen.

Anthropology professor Karen Ann Watson-Gegeo is contributing her poetry to the exhibit. Her main goal is to encourage students to focus on how macro level policies affect us on a micro scale.

“The UC budget situation represents a critical moment in UC history,” Watson-Gegeo said. “It deeply impacts students’ ability to stay in school or begin school at UC Davis, due to higher tuition, program cuts and faculty cuts.”

She said that students need to be aware of what is occurring, and that there couldn’t have been a better way to explain it than through art itself.

“It’s important that these issues be expressed in different ways, so that the information can speak to each person visiting the exhibit. Art is powerful in reaching parts of human understanding that words and numbers alone cannot reach,” she said.

Academic Inclusion: Undoing Marginalization may make you laugh, cry or want to throw a rock at someone. But it will certainly leave you with a feeling of empowerment and greater insight. Just remember that budget cuts affect us all, so come and share the experiences – we’re here for you.

VANNA LE can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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