The Fullerton College Art Gallery’s online exhibition Language Games is based on the concept of a “language game,” a philosophical theory developed by Ludwig Wittgenstein.
His theory asserts that words acquire meaning through how they’re used and how their usage is connected to social practices, and the artists’ work reflects this. They all play this language game in a physical aspect, breathing life into words through art.
The first artist, Kenturah Davis, skillfully explores the fundamental role that language has in shaping human understanding.
She displays four pieces: Study for Latitudes, Memory, Sonder Light Box, and Sonder Light Box III.
Her first piece features excerpts from art history books she studied as an undergrad using everything that references black artists.
Her other pieces consist of stamp drawings on cotton gauze. The second piece features the word “memory” repeatedly while her third and fourth pieces feature a monologue about “sonder,” the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.
The second artist, Alberto Lule, is a UCLA undergraduate that began his community college career while incarcerated.
His work highlights the problems of immigration, mass incarceration, and the prison industrial complex in the United States.
He displays six pieces: DANGER: NO SPEAK ENGLISH, CAUTION: NO SPEAK ENGLISH, PELIGRO: ICE, Alien Vs. Prisoner #1, Am I Truly Free? (New Forms of Identification), and I Bang Tha Hood Like This Everyday.
He utilizes words with strong impressions and mediums like spray paint and barbed wire to great effect.
His arguably most striking work, “Am I Truly Free? (New Forms of Identification)” features his mugshots and a QR code to his criminal record.
The third artist, Gabriella Sanchez, uses art to spotlight those that don’t fit a Eurocentric, cis-gendered agenda.
Her pieces are titled: Any/Other/Name, Define, Fine, Refine, Down is Up, Matter of Truth and Fiction, Mere/More, and Same Same Amen.
She utilizes a plethora of vibrant colors using acrylic, oil stick, archival pigment prints, and more.
The exhibition states, “The paintings reframe visual cues, reconsidering how meaning is crafted, delivered and then received. By utilizing text in the work, the paintings may be perceived as proclamations, affirmations, or sly remarks. Playful or derisive, Sanchez treats the ambiguity of her marks as psychographics: revealing truths about the viewer themselves.”
The fourth artist, Eduardo Viramontes, includes aspects of his own life while using his own language of Letras Antiguas, or Ancient Letters, which is influenced by old-world languages like Sanskrit and Hieroglyphics.
He displays five pieces: Cuarentena I, Cuarentena II, Del Campo, Gotas de Agua, and Madre Luz.
Cuarentena I and Cuarentena II, “quarantine” in Spanish, convey Eduardo’s history, story, and daily surroundings. Both pieces feature items he gathered during quarantine, such as grocery mailers. Eduardo describes his pieces as, “an observation of the different formal languages and types that are also part of our daily lives and surroundings.”
Del Campo is a nostalgic look at grocery market verbiage he grew up with, language often found on mailers and market storefronts. He effectively creates that feeling of walking around a city and interacting with imagery that is often weathered by the elements.
This piece is also an ode to California farmworkers that features uva roja and fresas, two of the biggest California crops. He utilized an inkjet printer, a nod to his design background, as well as spray paint and stickers to recreate the organic feel of graffiti.
Both Gotas de Agua and Madre Luz are inspired by the ever-changing cityscape. His language of Letras Antiguas is used atop textures created out of paint and paper. This technique communicates the idea that there are usually things hidden beneath layers.
The Language Games online exhibition will be available until Tuesday, Feb. 2.
Proceeds from the sales of his print Del Campo will be donated to aid farmworkers and families affected by COVID-19, fires, and heatwaves.