Big, bold canvases depicting various events in Asian-American history line the walls of the Clovis Community College lobby. From afar, the paintings by local artist Edwin Macaraeg are clear, but as the viewer steps closer, the subjects become intangible — replaced by a series of layered brush strokes.
“The Disambiguation of Asian-American History” will be on display on campus through March 4. Macaraeg teaches art at Madera Center Community College. His works are being shown at Clovis Community College along with a Smithsonian traveling exhibit: “IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas.”
“Since we are highlighting little-known relationships in American history with the IndiVisible exhibition, we thought highlighting Asian-American history would be a good fit to share as well, especially since the Central Valley has such a talented local artist in Mr. Macaraeg’s art,” said Clovis Community College spokeswoman Stephanie Babb.
IndiVisible focuses on the seldom-viewed history and complex lives of people of dual African American and Native American ancestry.
Rock legend Jimi Hendrix, who spoke of his Cherokee grandmother, is highlighted in the exhibit along with families from blended tribes.
On large banners displayed in the open computer lab in the Academic Center One (AC1) building on campus, 10309 N. Willow Ave., the Smithsonian traveling exhibit tells stories of cultural integration and diffusion as well as the struggle to define and preserve identity.
The banners tell of pre-colonial times, when Native and African peoples intermarried and shared traditions, and moves on through history when racially motivated laws oppressed and excluded them.
“The topic of African-Native Americans is one that touches a great number of individuals through family histories, tribal histories and personal identities,” said Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian, which helped produce the exhibit. “We find commonalities in our shared past of genocide, alienation from our ancestral homelands, and the exhibition acknowledges the strength and resilience we recognize in one another today.”
A 10-minute video highlights interviews with African-Native Americans from across North America who share their perspectives on their dual heritage. The video can be viewed on computers set up near the exhibit banners.
“We are proud to have contributed to this important and thoughtful exhibition,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which also collaborated on the exhibit. “African American oral tradition is full of stories about ‘Black Indians,’ with many black families claiming Indian blood.”
Both art exhibits are available for free viewing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m Friday on campus. Parking is $1; passes can be purchased at parking permit dispensers in each lot.
Those who can’t make it over to Clovis Community College can see the Smithsonian’s virtual exhibit at http://www.americanindian.si.edu/static/exhibitions/indivisible.
Additional exhibits will be available throughout the year:
▪ March 7 - May 13
“Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942-1964” from Smithsonian American Art Museum in the open computer lab
▪ March 7 - May 6
Bracero Paintings by Eliana Soto in the lobby gallery
▪ May 9 - Sept. 30
Student Artwork in the lobby gallery
The exhibits will be part of the Fresno Arts Council ArtHop from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18 and April 21. Parking will be free on those days, and attendees can enjoy free refreshments and music.