Citrus art celebrates La Verne’s past

Adrianna Santiago’s “Peeling Back Layers,” which can be seen at the Tall Wall Space in the Art and Communications Building, combines photography and sculpture. The floral imagery was created by using a historic photographic process developed by scientists to document biological specimens. Santiago cites Anna Atkins, the first person to create a book entirely of photographs, as an influence. The exhibit runs until May 31. / photo by Nancy Dyleuth
Adrianna Santiago’s “Peeling Back Layers,” which can be seen at the Tall Wall Space in the Art and Communications Building, combines photography and sculpture. The floral imagery was created by using a historic photographic process developed by scientists to document biological specimens. Santiago cites Anna Atkins, the first person to create a book entirely of photographs, as an influence. The exhibit runs until May 31. / photo by Nancy Dyleuth

University of Colorado graduate Adrianna Santiago, 24, exhibited her artwork “Peeling Back Layers,” at the Tall Wall Space beginning on Feb 23.

The gallery previously served as the home for citrus packaging for the city of La Verne, which once brought to life the citrus blossoms and became fruit for the people who tilled the soil and tended the trees. This led Santiago to create the exhibit that represented the life of La Verne, which was once citrus.

“‘Peeling Back Layers’ was inspired by the history of the citrus packing plant of the Tall Wall Space, as well as the history of the citrus industry in Southern California,” Santiago said.

Santiago’s love for the fine arts began in kindergarten, where she experimented with many different types of art, such as pastels, acrylics and even directing kindergarten film productions. While studying in Lorenzo de Medici, in Florence, Italy, Santiago’s interest in alternative process sparked. Santiago, who has lived in Colorado for the past 11 years, completed her bachelor’s degree in photography during the spring of 2004 and is currently the cultural arts director for the William E. Cope Branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver.

Christina Dobszewicz, a sophomore art history major with a minor in photography, said she is currently taking Art 390 tutorial and exhibition process and understands how much work has to be done to put together a piece like “Peeling Back Layers.”

“I think this piece is very interesting because if you look at it from above, it looks completely different than looking at it from below,” Dobszewicz said.

Santiago, who currently uses a variety of historical and alternative processes to create images, is known to interweave photography and the three-dimensional element of sculpture. This combination supports the exploration of the multifaceted relationship between physical and spiritual human characteristics of the cycle of life.

Senior Julie Sanchez-Alvarez, a communications major with an emphasis in multimedia, said she felt the exhibit really brightened the building.

“When the exhibit was first displayed, it took a few glances at it before I understood exactly what the piece was about,” Sanchez-Alvarez said. “I really love how it gave a new feeling and change of scenery in the building.”

Santiago has also worked on other pieces such as “Tapestry of Life,” which was created during her undergraduate thesis work as well as “Kindred Spirit,” which was her thesis and an installation piece.

She also has an outdoor community art installation called “Hope and Harmony” at Westcott Bay Art Institute’s Sculpture Park on San Juan Island. In addition, she collaborated on a piece with her husband Joshua Pass to create “Passage,” which leads into the “Hope of Harmony” installation and is also displayed at the Bay Institute.

Art Department Manager Dion Johnson helped Santiago build the exhibit. Professor of Photography Gary Colby shared Santiago’s work with him, and through e-mailing images and an exchange of dialog about the proposal and preparations, everything ran smoothly.

“I think this installation poses questions about how we view the intersection of natural and synthetic structures in our everyday experiences,” Johnson said. “With this work specifically, she is addressing architecture, history and simulacra.”

Santiago’s future plans include attending graduate school to earn a master’s degree in photography and to continue working in the community with non-profit organizations that benefit children. She said it was a rewarding and positive experience working at ULV.

“I really appreciated returning to an academic environment,” she said. “The feedback from the staff and students throughout the whole process was very motivating, and I am especially grateful to Dion Johnson, Gary Colby and Ruth Trotter for making this exhibit possible. Working with them was a wonderful opportunity and experience.”

Gabby De La Cruz can be reached at gdelacruz@ulv.edu.

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