Sac State art gallery ‘If Color Was Language’ showcases graffiti and symbolic emotions

Gallery will be open until Oct. 17


Bridget Duran

Sac State students observe the graffiti-themed artwork of Drew Ochwat, whose work is being showcased in the University Union. The gallery will be open until Oct. 17.

Bridget Duran

The Sacramento State University Union Gallery’s second exhibition, “If Color Was Language” by artist Drew Ochwat, held its opening reception Thursday.

The gallery showcases the relationship between street art and abstract expressionism in Sacramento. Students were able to meet the artist and ask questions about the art during the opening reception.

Ochwat said he wanted to showcase his paintings as a representation of his life struggles and his rebirth through art. Ochwat has been sober for six years following past struggles with addiction. 

Ochwat said his creativity has been his means of expression for as long as he can remember. 

Balance, contrast, and complexity have been common themes in Ochwat’s life, therefore they are represented within all of his art, along with bright colors and a sense of solitude. 

“I love contrasts and complex contradictions,” Ochwat said. “I sold drugs and was an addict for years, now I’m a teacher and artist. I’m happy and healthy.”

Beheshta Asdaq, third-year Sac State student with expressed interest in psychology, said she is minoring in art and loves to see fun, representative visuals. She enjoys visiting art galleries and was glad to know she can meet local artists on campus.

Bridget Duran
Featured artist Drew Ochwat speaks to Sac State students about his artwork at his “If Color Was Language” gallery in the University Union on Thursday, Sept. 26. The gallery will be open to the public until Oct. 17.

“The main reason I attend art galleries is for the inspiration for the work I do,”Asdaq said. 

Diana Perez, a sociology major, said she is interested in Ochwat’s way of expressing graffiti. Perez is from San Jose and said Ochwat’s artwork reminds her of home. 

“I’m intrigued by his work process and how it looks,” said Perez. “It’s very pretty.”

Many of Ochwat’s glass paintings are created by layering two paintings together to form one image. The paintings are created using watercolors, acrylics, spray paint and oil paint markers. 

Bridget Duran
Artist Drew Ochwat’s recent painting, Tahoe Summer, is an example of abstract expressionism. Tahoe Summer includes painted glass over painted paper.

Ochwat was born in the Philippines but is not Filipino. His mother is South Korean and his father is Polish and Czech. He moved to the United States when he was three and has lived within the Sacramento region ever since.  

Ochwat grew up being surrounded by different representations of art, ranging from clothing to canvases created by his uncle. Ochwat’s uncle was a significant inspiration for him and a major reason why he kept in touch with his artistic skills.

As a kid, Ochwat’s uncle sent art supplies to him and his brother. 

“I remember I would take every crayon and marker he sent us and try copying what he did,” Ochwat said. “He is a huge inspiration still, and the reason why I started painting glass.”

When Ochwat’s parents discovered his substance problem, they gave him the opportunity to redeem himself and change his life by offering to house him in one of their rental properties. 

The property had a basement which Ochwat converted into an art studio.

“I switched my addiction to art,” Ochwat said. 

For Ochwat, art helped him make a positive transformation. He became obsessed with bringing his feelings to life. 

“It really helped me internalize what I went through as part of my journey and who I am today,” Ochwat said.

Ochwat continues to create new paintings inspired by his life experiences and developing growth. His goal is to draw people with small details, movement and message behind every piece. 

His paintings are available for purchase in the University Union art gallery. 

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