SDSU art alumni collaborate for new exhibit

by Damir Cato, Staff Writer

The San Diego State Downtown Gallery will host a new exhibit from Sept. 15 to Nov. 6 that may prove once and for all that one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure.

Graduates of the SDSU School of Art + Design from the last five years will be featured in the gallery.

The exhibit, “With Abandon: Works by SDSU Alumni 2011-2016,” explores themes of decay and rediscovery by showcasing pieces created with everyday objects.

An old mattress, repurposed and twisted into a surreal knot, was given a new life in the hands of artist Kaiya Rainbolt, who graduated from SDSU with a master’s degree in jewelry and metalsmithing in spring 2016.

Rainbolt uses her work to examine complex social issues like sexual abuse.

“By bringing the emotions of this particular human struggle into the realm of the tangible, I hope to create an occasion for dialogue and empathy,” Rainbolt said.

The exhibit is free and will bring together a variety of artists and styles, from the metallic leanings of Rainbolt to woodworkers like Adam Manley.

Manley graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s in furniture and woodworking. After working at the Maine College of Art for a year, he has returned to San Diego to further his career.

Manley’s featured piece, a sculpture called “Itinerant Landmarks,” is a series of arrow-shaped weathervanes mounted atop tripods that, because of wind movement, always point in opposite directions.

“It’s kind of about intentional vagueness, kind of just drifting around and being aimless,” Manley said.

Manley thinks a feeling of aimlessness is common for students who are making the transition from college to the working world. He wants art students attending the show to know that being a working artist is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Manley, who has also curated his own art shows, and has lectured on art, points to “With Abandon” as proof of the viability of art for students interested in the major.

“I know it seems like an impossibility to go out there and continue to make art, but it’s not impossible,” Manley said.

“With Abandon” will be guest-curated by Ginger Porcella, executive director of the San Diego Art Institute.

“Much of the work is highly conceptual and technically skilled,” Porcella said. “A lot of these pieces take common materials and use them in an unexpected way, and these themes emerged when organizing the exhibition.”

The exhibit’s opening reception will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15. Light refreshments will be served to guests, and many of the artists featured will be available to discuss their work.

A second event, part of the SDSU Downtown Gallery’s “Downtown at Sundown” will also take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20. The ongoing collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art will feature live music in addition to all of the artwork displayed, with specific musicians still to be announced.

Porcella said she thought that visitors to the gallery will enjoy the works as much as she enjoyed putting the show together.

“I think that visitors will be very inspired,” Porcella said. “It’s some of the best work that I’ve seen in San Diego and I work with a lot of artists here.”