The University Union Gallery is putting an emphasis on the contrast between life and death for its current art exhibition entitled “Sweet Souls Remembered.”
This new exhibition features colorful sugar skull sculptures by local artist Rob-O and paintings by San Francisco-based artist Francisco Franco.
The collaboration allows its audience to experience Dia de los Muertos through vibrant art pieces and enriches them with pop-culture references.
Both artists’ works are also inspired by their past personal experiences.
For Franco, it was the passing of his mother when he was 10 in addition to witnessing the World Trade Centers tumbling down on 9/11 when he was in New York City for graduate school at New York Academy of Art.
“This show is for people to find ways to turn negative feelings and emotions and try to find a way to turn them into beautiful things,” Franco said. “It is the idea of taking something from nothing and turn them into something positive.”
According to “the Artist Statement” provided by the Union Gallery, Rob-O began his sculpting career after his mother’s death. It was, for him, a way to celebrate her life and give others a vehicle to honor their loved ones and heal.
“[Sweet Souls Remembered] is a celebration of life because you can never forget them,” Rob-O said. “It is the sweet of death. I wanted to [convey] the idea of taking off the reality that we all have to deal with one way or another by sweetening it through the sugar skull, through colors and lights or humors.”
Rob-O tends to never name his shows but was asked to collaborate with Franco to come up with one for this particular exhibition by Rebecca Voorhees, the Design, Identify and Studio manager of the University Union.
“These pieces are generated by my mom passing away, and these are souls,” Rob-O said. “These are sweet souls to remember. From Francisco Franco’s art of [singer Selena Quintanilla] to Marilyn Monroe to my pieces.”
Rob-O also said that when people come to the show, they should be able to relate to his and Franco’s art pieces and be reminded of their own personal lives.
For him, it is all about the connection the audience can make with each art piece in the exhibition.
A reception for “Sweet Souls Remembered” was held on Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Union Gallery with the presence of friends, students, staff, faculty and other art-goers.
Selena Rodriguez, freshman biology major, said every piece in the show was nice and pretty.
“I didn’t really know how they made [those sugar skulls] until I read [the description] on the side,” Rodriguez said. “I never knew how much work went into making these.”
For 2008 Sacramento State alumni couple Andres and Yadira Alvarez, it was their huge interest in art that drew them to the show.
“It was just the techniques of the work and it was just the way the colors stand out,” Andres Alvarez said. “But then it also it plays on how each person depicted died. We have [singer Selena Quintanilla] dead of gunshot wounds, and [Rob-O] created bullets surrounding her. So that immediately stood out for me.”
“Sweet Souls Remembered” is open to the public until Thursday, March 17.