Making Their Mark

Shahazia Sikander, Orbit, 2012, Print Collection, University of San Diego, PC2013.04


Walking through the Honors Program suite is an artistic journey for University of San Diego senior Juliana Guerra. A finance major pursuing minors in French and art history, Guerra was part of the inaugural Art Illuminated project, a year-long collaboration between the University Galleries and the Honors Program. The first-of-its-kind partnership was a student-led curatorial endeavor, with three students tasked with creating an art exhibit for the Honors Program suite.

“As an art history student, I’m really interested in the curatorial process that goes on in museums,” says Guerra. “I thought this would be a really amazing opportunity to get firsthand experience working in a curatorial role and the decisions that go into selecting artwork.”

Guerra, along with fellow students Marielle Krivit ’21 and Jacqueline Crane ’21, chose works from four BIPOC artists — Fred Wilson, Shahazia Sikander, Khalil-Jibade Huffman and Leonardo Drew — with the goal of showcasing contemporary works that create an “intentional, inclusive and thought-provoking exhibition.”

“It was very important to us to support the artists who are still active in their careers, who are actively responding to socialconcerns,” says Guerra.

Beginning in October 2020, the three students worked with Derrick Cartwright, PhD, associate professor of art history and director of University Galleries, and Susannah Stern, PhD, professor of communication studies and director of the Honors Program, to identify the artists for the exhibit. Guerra, who served as a Spring 2021 intern with the University Galleries Print Room, found herself immersed in the curator role, spending time researching art and reviewing prints in the USD collection.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve loved creating art, I’ve loved looking at art,” says Guerra. “It speaks to me on a deeper level to see all the different forms of human creativity. It’s really exciting to see how people are interpreting their emotions and their feelings and translating them onto paper.”

In Fall 2021, the exhibition was officially installed. As students take in the art showcased on the Honors Program walls, Guerra is aware of the unique opportunity she had.

“I don’t think this is a project that would have taken place at a larger university,” says Guerra. “One of the things I love about being a USD student is having such close relationships with professors and other students, and being able to have these opportunities to really make your mark on the school and really feel like part of the community.” — Allyson Meyer

Art Credit: Shahazia Sikander, Orbit, 2012, Print Collection, University of San Diego, PC2013.04

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