By Claudia Gonzalez
This is the story of how art museums became the place where I go to recharge my creative mind. I imagine others at UC Santa Barbara, who are creatively inclined, also gain inspiration by observing the artistry of others.
When I arrived at UCSB as a freshman in 2014, I wanted my experience on campus and in the city to revolve around the arts. The stars seemed to align with this goal when I was assigned to live on the Creative and Performing Arts Floor in the San Miguel dorms. I was surrounded by incredibly talented people who played instruments such as bassoon, trumpet and saxophone — people who were striving to be actors or who sang like birds.
For me it was very easy to feel intimidated by the talent that walked the same halls as I did. I wasn’t confident about my own artistry. Sure, I was there because I was a creative writer, amateur artist and a film major. But I felt that maybe my creative worth was all an illusion. Looking back, I now believe I just felt insecure.
As a film major, I figured that college was the time when I would venture into production and learn about directing, cinematography and sound. But something happened. I wrote and co-directed a short film and realized I wasn’t very good at it. Perhaps I needed more practice. Afterall, I couldn’t expect to walk in on my first day and suddenly become Wes Anderson. But I noticed I simply didn’t enjoy production. I still wanted to be a film major because I loved writing, so now I saw myself as a screenwriter.
In my second year, I was still unsure of how I would find my artistry. But at the beginning of my third year I was accepted into an internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara where I really began to see where my art and writing was headed.
The first exhibition that I was luckily enough to work on was an unusual installation called assume vivid astro focus: avalanc
hes volcanoes asteroids floods (AVAF), created by Eli Sudbrack and Christophe Hamaide-Pierson. My internship required that I have meaningful conversations with visitors and it was unlike anything I had ever seen or done before. Stepping into the space was immersing oneself in the art and becoming part of it. Four color-filled mural walls surrounding the viewer. On the floor were 49 colorful carpets that explored the female body, or featured boys kissing boys, phallic icons, the pride flag and the use of the term “trannie” by the artists, as a way to take back a word that had been used as a slur in the transphobic circles.
The exhibit pulled me in and threw me into a creative loop. I began to paint self portraits a lot more, I wrote very colorful pieces, including a multimedia feature, The Unconventional, in which I talked about the importance of a museum featuring an exhibition like AVAF in our political climate. I even began to write a script featuring a female protagonist whose life parallels the life of Frida Kahlo.
I learned more about myself as a writer and artist through this internship at the art museum than I had in my classes. The Santa Barbara art museum’s mission statement promises to advance creativity and inspire critical thinking through meaningful engagement with the art of our time — and that is exactly the effect that it had on me.
My route to finding my artistic voice may have been unconventional. But there’s a beauty in the abnormal. We often go through life yearning to be like others, to be accepted, but there is something very special about forgetting about the rules of assimilation.
Now in my fourth year at UCSB, I have yet to heavily involve myself in film production, and I learned that there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with taking the unexpected path towards one’s career. It can be frightening to venture off into a world that is foreign to your senses. But it can also be exciting and full of wonder and possibilities. And an internship off campus just might be where you find that.
Claudia Gonzalez is a Senior in Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara.