Art Gallery adapts to pandemic restrictions with a drive-thru art exhibition

Art pieces line Mesa College's parking lot during this semester's outdoor art exhibition

SDCCD News Center

Art pieces line Mesa College’s parking lot during this semester’s outdoor art exhibition

Every semester, Mesa College’s Museum Studies students curate an exhibition to showcase not just art, but an ambition to share perspective and emotion with visitors who seek it. Curating is an artform, said by Yvette Roman, one of the Museum Studies students, and it has held its ground at Mesa in the midst of a cultural tempest.  

“Mesa Drive-In: A Drive-Thru Art Exhibition,” is exactly what the name implies. On the day of its reception, a line of cars inched their way around the edges of Parking Lot 1 heading in the direction of the art pieces that hung side by side on a fence. Before getting to see the art, visitors were met by Alessandra Moctezuma — the director of the Art Gallery and professor of the Museum Studies class — who gave out pamphlets to each passing car. Its description prepares the guests to witness “a visual time-capsule.”

Paintings, photographs, mixed media prints, and even hand-made flags are all capturing ideas of what the curators describe as the “new normal” in 2020. Gallery guests get to look at the pandemic and social unrest through the lens of the 36 artists. 

This would be “the most historically significant exhibition,” according to Moctezuma. The professor explained that this semester’s exhibition had a unique process of development. Considering the context that surrounds this project, the curators’ choice in selecting art pieces was bound by a fundamental theme that remained consistent through each one. 

“Some of them deal with social issues, others deal with, for example, women’s rights, others deal with the history of different groups,” said the professor. She said that these pieces should hit home with students in particular. “I do gravitate to artists that are not afraid to address current issues or issues that connect with students,” said Moctezuma. 

What was most unique about building the exhibition was the fact that it was done primarily online. According to Roman, the most difficult part about the entire process was “interaction and collaboration with teammates” which was obstructed by “the barrier of Zoom.” Despite the odds, every designated task — recruiting artists, writing the press release, creating a website, constructing a catalog with an audio tour, and installation — was accomplished, which highlighted the effort of the class according to Roman.   

Moctezuma’s passion to keep the artistic fire ablaze fueled Roman’s motivation through her main roles in installation and constructing the audio tour. She appreciated the professor’s “great job in bringing the class together,” however, Roman said that working with her installation team in person created a “cool bonding experience” that she couldn’t make with about “70%-80%” of her class.    

Yvette Roman’s “Barcelona Blues” expresses a theme of self-care, one of the many relevant topics explored in this exhibition. (Yvette Roman)

The student curator is also an accomplished artist who contributed the piece, “Barcelona Blues,” to the exhibition. It was a piece that captured the theme of self-care, which applies to “today’s situation when it’s important to check in with yourself,” said Roman. 

The Museum Studies student said the art behind creating an exhibition is making “everything that is on display fit into one concept and feel like it’s one whole thing — one living thing.” 

“Mesa Drive-In: A Drive-Thru Art Exhibition” is open until Dec. 9.