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Student art is key to unified campus identity

Josiah+Ihem%2C+23%2C+a+fine+arts+major%2C+paints+a+mural+on+the+wall+facing+Alumni+Park+on+Oct.+22.+He+is+one+of+a+few+students+who+have+created+art+around+campus.+The+mural+represents+various+majors+to+show+how+they+interact+with+each+other.%0APhoto+by+Diana+Olivares%2FThe+Runner
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Student art is key to unified campus identity

Josiah Ihem, 23, a fine arts major, paints a mural on the wall facing Alumni Park on Oct. 22. He is one of a few students who have created art around campus. The mural represents various majors to show how they interact with each other.
Photo by Diana Olivares/The Runner

Josiah Ihem, 23, a fine arts major, paints a mural on the wall facing Alumni Park on Oct. 22. He is one of a few students who have created art around campus. The mural represents various majors to show how they interact with each other. Photo by Diana Olivares/The Runner

Josiah Ihem, 23, a fine arts major, paints a mural on the wall facing Alumni Park on Oct. 22. He is one of a few students who have created art around campus. The mural represents various majors to show how they interact with each other. Photo by Diana Olivares/The Runner

Josiah Ihem, 23, a fine arts major, paints a mural on the wall facing Alumni Park on Oct. 22. He is one of a few students who have created art around campus. The mural represents various majors to show how they interact with each other. Photo by Diana Olivares/The Runner


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Josiah Ihem paints a mural on the wall facing Alumni Park on Oct. 22.          Diana Olivares/ The Runner

By Runner Staff

Just as each university has a distinctive academic specialty that differentiates itself from other colleges, we believe each school also has a unique campus identity. This leads us to the following question: What is California State University, Bakersfield’s campus identity?

At first glance, CSUB appears to be more of an amalgamation of different elements than a school with a unified aesthetic. We have sprawling turf fields, but they are largely scattered on the periphery of campus.

We have a koi pond, but the surrounding greenery and its location – the pond is situated just east of the Walter Stiern Library, where foot-traffic is modest at best – obscure the area from the view of the general student body.

As our university and enrollment continue to grow, we believe CSUB will need a unique aesthetic that inspires campus pride and unifies our diverse student body.

Our desire: Endorse more student-created campus art.

Both curated and non-curated art have an extensive history at CSUB.

For over 30 years, the Todd Madigan Gallery has exhibited creations from artists including, but not limited to, Henri Matisse, Gustavo Godoy, George Ketterl and Adriá Juliá. The gallery also exhibits works from CSUB students through their senior seminar presentations.

In 2012, CSUB welcomed international sculptor Jems Robert Koko Bi to campus through the Visiting Sculptor Program. Positioned near the Walter Stiern Library’s western staircase, Koko Bi crafted a larger-than-life wooden likeness of Martin Luther King Jr.

Whereas the creations of the Visiting Sculptor Program are generally on loan to the university, with the work still owned by the artists, King Jr.’s likeness is still there to this day.

And, most recently, two murals were completed on two walls just north of the Runner Café. Featuring a dazzling array of greens, reds, blues, yellows and grays, the murals are a definitive upgrade from the macaroni-and-cheese color that previously coated the walls.

These various creations, whether through their striking colors, dramatic action or the form itself, engage our collective humanity; they appeal to our creative faculties, which, in the drudgery of class, studying and work, may otherwise lie dormant.

The same cannot be said of our turf fields that serve primarily as a more comfo
rtable alternative to walking on pavement.
In wake of a CSU system mandate to reduce water consumption by 20 percent by 2020, CSUB should not rely on its various fields and trees to adorn our campus, for our greenery will inevitably yellow and wither.
Similarly, we cannot rely on a secluded pond, no matter how beautiful, to unify our student body.

Let us instead place our campus aesthetic in the hands of our student body, whose discussions, creative ideas and presence already provide the lifeblood of our university.

Whatever the aesthetic may be, allow our students to reimagine and redesign the blank walls of university buildings as we did with our two new murals.

Provide us with the funding and materials to adorn various spaces with sculptures of historical figures, as Koko Bi did in 2012.

Students already are the force behind a vibrant campus life. To better combat against sagging school spirit and student apathy, let us also be the force behind our campus identity.

As university president Horace Mitchell and his cabinet often remind us, CSUB is our university; therefore, let us adorn it as we please.

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Student art is key to unified campus identity