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Students meander through gallery of identity art

Senior Jasmine Escalante talks to those visiting the Meandering gallery. // Photo by Michaela Vue
Senior Jasmine Escalante talks to those visiting the Meandering gallery. // Photo by Michaela Vue

Students meandered through the halls of the B Gallery from Jan. 25 to Jan. 29 to study the pieces made to reflect the identity and personal stories from fine arts students Jasmine Escalante and Hugh Rountry.

The project was titled Meandering and featured pieces such as the “Monologue” video and the “Sampaguita” screen-print. Rountry’s art included three screen-prints of figures modeled after his family and friends. Both pieces used installation art to further its main theme of identity.

Installation art is used to create a sense of space by being more than just a flat picture on a wall, Escalante said.

“Thinking about how these figures are changed by each other and the environments they’re in … it’s a metaphor for how we think about and see ourselves,” Rountry said.

In the center of the gallery, Escalante’s art played a video monologue which told the story about how her family dealt with her father’s deportation in 2010.

The video was shown through transparent chiffon tapestry onto a wall screen-printed with the Philippine’s national flower, the sampaguita. The yellow tapestry also displayed these sampaguita flowers.

Senior Jasmine Escalante's video monologue tells the story of her father's deportation. // Photo by Michaela Vue
Senior Jasmine Escalante’s video monologue tells the story of her father’s deportation. // Photo by Michaela Vue

“It’s going back to my heritage and empowering that part of me,” Escalante said.

Working on the monologue allowed Escalante to reflect on her father’s absence and how she viewed herself, she said. Escalante only recently started showing her personal family story through her art, she said.

“I was really ashamed about it at first, but the more I talk about it, the more I understand my situation and how it has affected me,” she said.

The art allowed her to overcome her desire to not talk about it, Escalante said.

“I didn’t want to see myself as the type of artist who made their art about personal things— it seemed, in a way, activist-esque,” she said.

Language barriers, time and distance have made Escalante more used to not having her father around, she said.

“He calls a lot and we talk on the phone, but it’s nothing more than how are you and how are you doing,” she said.

There are still many things about her father’s deportation that she does not understand and wishes her family situation was handled differently, Escalante said. The monologue has allowed her to reflect about her identity and how she wants to help other families affected by deportation.

Escalante said she wants people to realize that deportation and immigration happens and that it can leave many emotions for families to deal with in its aftermath.

“I just want it to matter. I want people to acknowledge it and do something about helping these families out,” she said.

Her art’s message reached her manager, Nathan Vrabel, who attended the gallery.

“It does seem more real,” Vrabel said. “From now on if I hear about story my mind will go back to Jasmine, who I know went through something like that.”

Vrabel said he knows Jasmine to be a kind and happy person. Her art portrayed her personality shining through even in adversity, Vrabel said.  

The purpose of the art is not to stand as a political statement but to bring light to the issue and help those who might relate, Escalante said. Those who have a story are not alone and Escalante said she hopes that the duo’s work was a testament to that.
For Rountry, at the end of the day, it’s about having a positive self image.

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