Welcome to U-Nite 2021! For the 11th year, the Crocker Art Museum and California State University, Sacramento's College of Arts and Letters are teaming up to bring you this polyphonic, virtual showcase of nationally recognized faculty work. New content will be posted here daily and will remain posted for a month. The virtual festival culminates on Sunday, November 7 at 2 PM with a livestream showcase on YouTube. Performances, presentations, guest appearances from Crocker and Sacramento State staff, and artwork from the CSUS Faculty Exhibition, curated by Manuel Rios and on view in our Student and Community gallery, round out a high-octane, artistic spectacle.

This year’s event is curated into four sections, and the presentations have directly shaped the thematic approach:

Day 1 - History in the Expanded Field
Day 2 - Embodied Movement
Day 3 - Cultural Storytelling: Love, Dance, and Superheroes
Day 4 - Considering Now: Reflections on Equity and Isms, a Death, the After Life, and Airport Security

Concepts like storytelling, reflection, artistic response, access, human connection, and empathy anchor an event deeply affected by a society coming to terms with a devastating pandemic, socio-political upheaval, and a rapid increase in digital engagement.

Each theme explores how these concepts intersect to create a specific set of artistic conditions that inform projects that ultimately challenge viewers to see their world in different ways. Art History in the Expanded Field highlights how faculty are addressing access to information and content. Under Embodied Movement, feelings and ideas are made tangible and visible through various artistic modes. Cultural Storytelling exemplifies the myriad forms of narrative, and Considering Now meditates on work responding to and informed by the events of the last year.

Be sure to revisit this post over the weekend, and don’t forget to sign up for an admission ticket to visit the Faculty Show in person! Let’s connect (virtually!) to celebrate some of the most exciting arts and culture the City of Trees has to offer.

Enjoy the show!

DAY 1 – Art History in the Expanded Field

What do Wikipedia, audio guides, and music history have in common? They are all platforms part of an expanded field of cultural discourse that informs how we access information about an artwork or an artist. Why are there fewer entries on Wikipedia about women artists? What does an 18th century painting tell us about the musical culture of the time? How can an audio guide augment our experience of an artwork at the Crocker Art Museum? Art History in the Expanded Field considers these questions through connections between the past and present.

Using Wikipedia in the Art History Classroom

Rachel Miller, Assistant Professor of Art History, Art Department

Why are there more articles in Wikipedia about places in Antarctica than there are articles about places in the entire continent of Africa? Why are the entries on professional wrestlers more thorough edited than on female world leaders? Why is Wikipedia coverage of women artists so scant? In this presentation, Professor Rachel Miller will discuss what she is doing with students in the classroom to address these biases and content gaps in Wikipedia coverage.

Seeing and Hearing: Music Historians Look at Art
Beverly Wilcox, Lecturer Music History, Music Department

In this ten-minute work, retired UC Berkeley professor Daniel Heartz discusses a 1750s group portrait by Jacopo Amigoni that includes the famous castrato singer Faranelli; Sac State lecturer Beverly Wilcox explores sketch by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin of a Paris concert hall in the year Mozart visited it; and Sac State Jazz Studies student Isaac Davis muses over a 1947 black-and-white nightclub photo featuring saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Miles Davis.

Art Stories: Student Voices on the Crocker Collection
Mya Dosch, Assistant Professor of Art of the Americas, Art Department

"Students in my US and Caribbean Art: Race and Representation classes developed audio guides about artworks in the Crocker Art Museum collection by women, artists of color, and queer artists. Eighty students worked in teams to research their chosen artworks, with each member of the group giving their own spin on the topic. We are thrilled to debut the first of these multivocal audio guides at UNITE!"

Day 2 – Embodied Movement

To embody is to be an expression of, or give a tangible or visible form to, an idea, a quality, or a feeling. Each faculty presentation here embraces movement— whether digital or corporeal— as an embodiment of emotion, cultural experience, and human connection.

Mikko Lautamo, New Media Adjunct Professor, New Media Art Department

Cut, the work on display for U-Nite, uses the metaphor of a cut flower as a stand-in for possibilities unfulfilled due to the isolation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It tracks the motion of thoughts when confined: flitting, ephemeral, and following a constantly changing direction.

“I’m glad you’re here/Intersections”
Lorelei Bayne, Professor, Theatre and Dance

Lorelei E. Bayne and collaborators present a short dance film honoring the humanity in all of us. I'm glad you're here/Intersections questions empathy and unity in times of crisis.

A Song for Day Dreamers
Nicole Limon, Lecturer, Theatre and Dance

A Song for Daydreamers, a filmed multidisciplinary solo performance, explores themes of mental health, resilience, and healing. The performance blends movement, indigenous song, imagery, and spoken word into a meditative and contemplative landscape of hope and connection.

Into Light
Nahn Ho, Lecturer, Theatre and Dance

Into Light explores the mother and daughter relationship and supporting roles played by community.

DAY 3 – Cultural Storytelling: Love, Dance and Superheroes

Exploring cultural heritage through three distinct forms— literary fiction, folkloric dance, and popular culture— the following presentations highlight the enduring influence of tradition and history. Will love prevail in Torsa Ghosal’s novel that follows a young couple from India to Europe and the US? In Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes!!!, Osvaldo Ramirez directs the Sacramento-based Ballet Folklorico Nube de Oro as they perform sones and jarabes to Mariachi music. And, Jeffrey Dym tells the story of the world’s first superhero. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t Superman!!!

Author Reading: Heartland
Torsa Ghosal, Assistant Professor, Department of English

Set in India and the U.S., Heartland dwells on how class, religion and migration shape human intimacies.

Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes!!! - Sones de Jalisco
Osvaldo Ramirez, Lecturer, Theatre and Dance

¡Ay, Jalisco no te rajes!

The World’s First Superhero?!?! Ōgon Batto
Jeffrey Dym, Professor of History, Department of History

During the 1930s and 1950s, kamishibai, or paper plays, were a very popular form of entertainment in Japan. One of the first kamishibai was Ōgon Batto, or the Golden Bat, considered by some to be the world’s first superhero. This short film opens with a brief history of Ōgon Batto and its place within Japanese cultural history, followed by a performance of the very first Ōgon Batto kamishibai.

DAY 4 – Considering Now: Reflections on Equity and Isms, a Death, the Afterlife, and Airport Security

Faculty work presented under the theme Considering Now address the spectrum of challenges and societal issues collectively experienced this past year. Architecture is interrogated for the way it reflects racial inequities. The human body is used to express the different -isms encountered daily and those embraced. An artist finds her creative voice amidst a pandemic and the loss of a parent. Questions arise as to the existence of an Afterlife and what happens when one chooses to leave it. (Can you?) And perhaps a dash of humor may be the essential ingredient to appreciating our experiences with airport security.

What Do You See?
Carolyn Gibbs, Professor, Interior Architecture; D. Sledge, Assistant Professor, Interior Architecture; Emily Potts, Assistant Professor, Interior Architecture; Department of Design

What do you see when you look around your community? Three architect-professors answer this question from their perspectives as professionals and faculty members in the Interior Architecture program at Sac State.

Isms An Excerpt of A Work of Works in Progress
Nicole Manker, Lecturer, Department of Theatre and Dance

ISMs is an excerpt from a larger work in progress that explores sexism, racism, ableism, specism, and more -isms.

Held Breaths
Summer Ventis, Assistant Professor of Printmaking, Art Department

In this Pecha Kucha presentation, I discuss the series of prints, objects, and installations entitled Held Breaths. This series imagines the act of physically holding a breath as a meditation on the times in which we find ourselves, a way of externalizing the tension and fear with which we live. It is both a manifestation of that tension and fear and a release of it: I offer my held breath to you; I offer to hold your breath for a moment so that you might find a better way to breathe.

Dan Janos, Assistant Professor of Film, Department of Communications

In this short narrative film, an aging writer prepares to quit the afterlife and invites her former mentee to carry the torch when she’s gone.

101 Pat Downs: An Undercover Look at Airport Security and the TSA
Shawna Malvini Redden, Associate Professor, Department of Communications

In this dramatic performance, Shawna Malvini Redden shares entertaining and informative stories about airport security, based upon her book 101 Pat-Downs: An Undercover Look at Airport Security and the TSA. The performance invites audience members to consider how they feel and communicate in airport security, whether they're pro travelers or newbies.

Virtual Showcase