The community joined with Fullerton College and representatives from Morelia, Mexico, for a celebration of art at the school’s Student Art Exhibition on Thursday. In addition to the annual awards given to Fullerton students for their artwork, the school unveiled its new mural in the 1000 building, dedicated to Fullerton’s sister city in Mexico.

The mural was created to honor the city’s participation in the US/Mexico Sister City Association and featured images from throughout Morelia’s landmarks, including the Universidad Michoacána de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, founded in 1540 as a training center for priests and missionaries.

The mural also features dozens of monarch butterflies, which make their home in Morelia before beginning a journey that will last three generations as they migrate up the continent during the summer.

“What is a butterfly, and what is art?” asked Jaime Perez, art history instructor. “It is about a journey. It is about hard work and creativity. And ultimately, it is about transformation.”

The mural was painted by Roberto Rivera Novoa in collaboration with his brother Ernesto and the FC Art Department. Planning for the piece took nearly a year, most of which was spent figuring out what would be in the painting. Novoa said it took him three months to complete the painting of the mural.

“The composition wasn’t my own, per se, the art department was involved and reached a consensus on the overall composition,” Novoa said. “Sometimes Mr. [Bob] Jensen and I couldn’t concur on some things, but that is how it happens.”

Representatives from Morelia were on hand for the dedication ceremony and unveiling, which were followed by the Student Art Exhibition. The annual exhibition features work from Fullerton students made during the school year. Awards and cash prizes were given to the top pieces in each of the different media that the school teaches.

Taking the top prize of Best of Show was a piece by Mary Rose titled “Welcome to the Family.” The painting was modeled after an old photograph featuring Rose’s aunts, but wearing masks that she added.

“I have always loved that picture of them, their clothing especially,” Rose said.

The exhibition gives students, many of whom are still beginning their education in art, a chance they may not have had yet to display their work. Jenny Cho, whose piece “A Triforce of Color” took home the prize for Excellence in Color, expressed that she had not always had the confidence to create work on her own.

“I had always been a spectator,” Cho said. “I had admired art, but never thought that I could make art.”

TC MacDonald, who began her college career at FC in 1987, was grateful the school provided an opportunity for her return after many years to learn new talents.

“Overall, I think it’s a really good program,” she said. “They are very instructional in the art history classes.”

MacDonald’s stained glass work was awarded an honorable mention in the Sculpture Category.

In past years, the award ceremony took place in the 1000 Building’s Art Gallery, and usually was a crowded event with artists, teachers, families and supporters crammed inside. This year, the event moved outside the building, where a stage, tables and chairs were set up. Guests were welcomed with food and water and the musical stylings of the Freddie Navas Ensemble.

More than 1,400 people attended the event and Jim Dowdalls, FC art and design instructor, expressed that it is one of the best student shows that the department has had. A big part of that was due to the movement of the award ceremony out of the gallery, something that he wants to continue next year.

Stephen Tith, the newly elected Student Trustee, commented on his admiration for how much talent Fullerton College has had to offer throughout its history. He thinks that the school’s new mural will become part of the art department’s legacy.

Tith said, “The school is celebrating its centennial right now, and it is possible that this mural is here 100 years from now.”

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