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Student-curated Art and Civic Engagement Exhibition Creates 'Space to Talk'

Photo of a print by Steve A. Prince titled "Rosa Sparks."

Steve A. Prince, Rosa Sparks, 2017.

Jacqueline Amezcua '19 presents art to spark meaningful conversation

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

The arts can inspire us to see the world differently—and to engage the world differently too. A new student-curated exhibition, opening Friday, Feb. 8, at The Trout Gallery, helps open up meaningful conversations by presenting current social and political issues through varied points of view.

The exhibition, Agency, Tolerance and Imagination: Art and Civic Engagement, showcases works by contemporary artists Ken Kitano, John E. Buck, Steve Prince, Manu Brabo, Sue Coe, Toshio Shibata, Yao Lu, Hung Liu and Lalla Essaydi, and includes a portrait of Dickinson founder Benjamin Rush, who emphasized the importance of civic engagement as part of his American liberal-arts model. All pieces in the exhibition were acquired through The Trout Gallery’s student-acquisition program and curated by Jacqueline Amezcua ’19. 

Amezcua is a double major in Spanish and Latin American, Latino & Caribbean studies and Posse scholar who’s been active on campus as a foreign-language tutor, co-leader of a letter-writing campaign in support of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and co-founder the college’s Latina Discussion Group. She’s also a Spanish-language student-coordinator at The Trout Gallery, and one of approximately 40 students who work with the gallery each year as interns or volunteers. 

Since her sophomore year, Amezcua has helped present educational arts programs to Dickinson language students and to local school groups, including Spanish-language programs accompanying the college’s 2016-17 José Guadalupe Posada exhibition. Now, as student-curator, she’s brought all of that experience to bear, researching the works included in the exhibition, writing the wall text and an accompanying educational brochure—a monthslong project that included several rounds of editing—and working closely with gallery staff to design and present the show. Each piece presents an avenue to open up discussion of complex issues, such as nationhood, animal rights and sustainability. John Buck’s Cannonball Creek, for example, depicts the Lakota people fighting to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

“The beauty of the art is that it doesn’t require an in-depth knowledge of current debates in order to facilitate conversations about the issues and experiences of various groups,” says Amezcua, who plans to continue to work on issues surrounding diversity in the arts after graduation. “I hope that through this exhibit we have created a space where the community can talk about and engage with current events from various points of view.”

The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be on display from Feb. 8 through April 6, with a free, public opening reception on Friday, Feb. 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. Gallery hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 

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Published February 5, 2019