Social problems recognized through artwork

Melissa Gasia
Staff Writer

The Pomona College Museum of Art is showcasing its exhibitions “Petrochemical America,” “Allied Against AIDS” and “Project Series 49: Sam Falls” on social issues through Dec. 19.

The art exhibition is a resource not just for the Pomona College campus but also for the public.

“Students come and have fun, but we want the museum to be an accessible place,” museum coordinator Justine Bae said. “Sometimes people might look at a museum as very academically stiff, or non-accessible in terms of content and culture, but we are open to the public.”

“Petrochemical America: Project Room” is a collaboration between photographer Richard Misrach and landscape architect Kate Orff. The works address environmental consequences of petrochemicals.

Their joint forces unravel the industrialized scenery of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans – a section that became known as “Cancer Alley” due to its extreme chemical production and continuous environmental abuse that caused high reports of cancer and other diseases in the region.

“The overall tone (of the Petrochemical America exhibit) was real sad to see,” La Puente resident Gabrielle Magallanes said.

Allied Against AIDS presents Sue Coe’s 10 etchings of AIDS patients in the 1990s who were in their last stages of life. The drawings go with texts and quotations by some of the patients from the drawings to focus more on their personal experiences.

Back then, AIDS was misguided as a “gay disease” and created societal fear. Coe was part of the activist movement to fight the assumptions about AIDS and show the other side of AIDS that the public is not used to seeing.

“Project Series 49” displays Sam Fall’s latest work that includes his paintings and a pickup truck which is seen outside the museum as an outdoor sculpture full of succulents.

Instead of using a paintbrush or a camera, Falls used organic materials and natural resources such as the sun and rain to create his works with applied pigmentations. Large artistic silhouette images with layers of colors were created and can be seen as part of his exhibition.

The Pomona College Museum of Art likes to mix it up to encourage more people to come by. Art After Hours is every Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. after the museum closes. Each event varies with live music, artist talks, workshops, performances and many more activities.

“General museums usually don’t have user-friendly hours,” said security officer Cynthia Madrigal. “They’re open during normal times that a person is at work.”

The museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays to Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Falls’ artist talk is on Sept. 9 and Coe’s lecture is on Oct. 23.

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Melissa Gasia can be reached at

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