SF State alumnus curates sci-fi exhibit on campus

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Colorful toy guns hung on the walls as bronze, animalistic masks stared at onlookers from across the room and detailed sculptures of futuristic planets dangled from the ceiling.  Eerie horror music rang in the background as viewers walked from piece to piece under red and blue lighting, admiring the diverse works of art.

The Fine Arts Gallery turned into a science fiction maven’s paradise Aug. 27 with its opening reception of “Colored Warnings” in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. The new art exhibit portrays three artists’ work that examine contemporary politics with a science fiction spin.  Artist Craig Campbell spearheaded the exhibit as the curator.  The show “captures an imagined future, which reflects on the war-torn landscape of the present,” according to the Associated Students, Inc. Art Gallery blog.

Fueled with a vision and a desire to engage with the local community, Campbell, an alumnus of SF State’s studio arts and sexuality departments, led the collaboration between the artists Lewis Klahr, Mike Rothfeld and Philip Gann.

Having previously seen the artists’ works at other shows, Campbell said he felt the theme was worth exploring and wanted Klahr, Rothfeld and Gann for his exhibit. Campbell, an avid fan of the genre, described his show as a “contemporary attempt at what has been done in the past with science fiction.”

“In the history of media, science fiction often depicts our fears and the way that the future is seen by people who live within that time,” Campbell said. “This show is my attempts to get a group of artists and a body of work that reflects what we see in our time and how we think our technology is going to work and how the future is going to work.”

Each artist individually showcased his interpretation of what the future will hold.

Rothfeld, a local artist who resides in Oakland and graduated from California College of the Arts, works primarily in sculpture and said he derives much of his imagery from science fiction and horror TV shows.

“The overall theme of the exhibit is to look at a current political climate through science fiction tropes,” Rothfeld said. “I think that most of the work stays true to what I take (Campbell’s) intent to be of looking at some very serious world issues, but not being afraid to bring some humor.”

Gann, an SF State alumnus who graduated with a major in fine art with a dual emphasis in studio art and art history, also lives in Oakland and has a studio in South San Francisco. He said he considers himself a sculpture artist who works with mixed media.

“I would like for my viewers to experience their own personal memory through just observing my work,” Gann said. “I’m trying to tap into people’s childhood memories because I feel like those are the strongest memories that we hold onto, and to make work that sort of uproots those memories in the viewer. I think that creates a moment I like.”

Members from all across the local community came to support the new show on campus. Sean Yore, who has lived in the area for roughly 40 years, said he found the art intriguing.

“It is evocative of past science fiction,” Yore said. “Yet, there is a continued take on modern society with guns and violence.”

Campbell said he hopes his work will provoke viewer’s ingenuity and inspire personal interpretation.

“As a part of that enjoyment, I want to challenge them in a way,” Campbell said. “I want people to experience this more than once in different ways.”

The gallery is student funded and student staffed, and the team’s main responsibility was to install the show, according to the ASI Art Gallery.  Art gallery manager and curator David de Rozas said this was the first time Campbell had collaborated with him on an exhibition.

“The show draws parallels between the past, the future and the present,” Campbell said.  “I hope it conveys that everything is kind of cyclical and one should investigate the past when they go into the future.”

“Colored Warnings” will run until Sept. 17, is free and open to the public. The exhibit will follow the current regular hours of the Cesar Chavez Student Center Art Gallery, and will be open Monday through Friday 11 a.m to 6 p.m.

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