Humanities, Research

At BAM/PFA, 'Envisioning Human Rights' begins with student art

By Public Public Affairs


UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014, got some help this week from the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and 14 student artists from four UC campuses, whose human rights-themed work is being showcased at the museum.

“Hoi An 2,” photograph by Emily Gibson, a student in UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism

The show, titled “Envisioning Human Rights: The Next Generation,” features photographs, paintings and sculpture selected by Lucinda Barnes, chief curator and director of programs for BAM/PFA, and the show’s co-curator, artist Pamela Blotner. The student works are being exhibited alongside a selection of paintings by Fernando Botero from his Abu Ghraib series, which the Colombian artist donated to BAM/PFA in recognition of Berkeley’s historic role in advancing human rights.

At a reception on Tuesday evening — attended by most of the 14 student artists, Human Rights Center executive director Alexis Koenig and faculty director Eric Stover and BAM/PFA director Lawrence Rinder — Barnes explained how Koenig had invited the museum to participate in the center’s 20th-anniversary celebration. That led to a decision to invite students from throughout the state to take part in a juried competition, with the cream of the crop now on display.

“Hebron Protest,” photograph by Berkeley journalism student Mateo Hoke

The student works, said Koenig, “powerfully represent the Human Rights Center’s longstanding commitment to cultivate the next generation of human-rights advocates, shed light on the conditions of people more vulnerable than ourselves and effectuate change.”

The exhibit is a precursor to a larger one set to open in July, titled simply “Envisioning Human Rights.” That show will feature work from such renowned photographers as Gilles Peress, Susan Meiselas, Sebastiao Salgado and the Graduate School of Journalism’s Ken Light, as well as images from books and publications produced by the Human Rights Center. Barnes also promised an auction of works donated by artists included in the show.

“Throughout history, artists have responded to conditions and circumstances of their own time, place and memory,” Barnes said. “At BAM/PFA we believe works of art and film can offer profound aesthetic and intellectual experiences, and that these experiences and social exchanges can change our perspective and worldview.”