Sac State art students respond to pandemic through printmaking

A virtual campus in artform


Marin Perego, Mercy Sosa

Posters from the Royal Chicano Air Force art collective hang in the Collections & Collaborations exhibit on Sept. 30, 2021. Art history and printmaking students referenced the posters from the university’s archives to create works based on their own ephemera. Photo of the posters taken by Marin Perego. Graphic created in Canva.

Marin Perego

A packet of tea, an invitation to an aptly-named block party and an image of a phone screen with the notification, “Cleared until 11:59 p.m.” 

All are works by Sacramento State art students for the “Collections & Collaborations” printmaking exhibition on display in the University Union Gallery.

The exhibition demonstrates the significance of attending a mostly virtual campus, according to Print Club President and studio art major Genesis “the Mayor” Torres.

To create “Ephemera of a Virtual Campus,” art students reflected on their identities in an era of online learning, drawing inspiration from the school’s archives of posters from the Royal Chicano Air Force artistic collective.

Ephemera as an art form, according to Torres, is a way of creating something that refers to an event or encapsulates a specific moment in time.

Torres’s “Block Party” print represents reuniting the community of printmakers despite being physically distant and sits on display at the Collections & Collaborations exhibit on Sept. 30, 2021. Scanning the QR code takes the viewer to a recording of the previously held event. (Photo by Marin Perego)

Torres’ “Block Party” print is an invitation to a virtual event from the spring semester that united print enthusiasts via Zoom, fostering reconnection within the printmaking community.

Scanning the QR code on the print will take the viewer to a recording of the event, which Torres says is another ephemeral element.

Torres said the inspiration behind “Block Party” was to capture the moment students are  living in through online learning and interactions. 

“The future may know this time as a different narrative, but I wanted to encapsulate this time of zoom bombing, zoom fatigue, and connecting through distance through the use of Zoom,” Torres said.

Cecilia Lopez’ “Cleared but not Really,” featured as promotional material for Collections & Collaborations, sits in the exhibit on Sept. 30, 2021. The print represents being cleared to attend campus but not cleared from the pandemic. (Photo by Marin Perego)

Cecilia López, a senior double-majoring in graphic design and art studio methods with an emphasis in printmaking said her print “Cleared But Not Really” captures the uncertainties of returning from a virtual campus.

López’ piece focuses on Sac State’s pandemic safety protocols, specifically the daily health self-screening surveys that students have had to take to visit campus. 

López’ print features a hand holding a phone bearing the notification, “Cleared until 11:59 p.m.” A disposable mask hangs from one finger. 

“We all hope that it will one day, hopefully soon, the pandemic will just be a part of the past,” López said. “But until then we aren’t really cleared.”

“Tea Date” by Elizabeth Kellogg was made using linocut, graphite and mixed media sits in the Collections & Collaborations exhibit on Sept. 30, 2021. Kellogg’s print invites the viewer to foster a loving relationship with themselves, starting with a tea date for one. (Photo by Marin Perego)

“Tea Date” by Elizabeth Kellogg features a packaged blend of oatstraw, tulsi and chamomile, herbs that Kellogg said promote a sense of uplifting calmness.

The feeling of isolation brought on by the pandemic made Kellogg realize how much society has been conditioned to believe that love from others is essential to one’s well-being.

“This time of isolation made me realize how much our media conditions us to believe that we need others to feel love and the sense of peace and balance it brings into our lives,” Kellogg said. 

The piece encourages viewers to challenge that belief and find those feelings of love and peace within themselves, according to Kellogg, “Starting with a date with themselves and a cup of tea.”

The print includes a single serving of tea with brewing instructions enclosed, making it ephemeral because the print, once opened, will no longer be tied to its purpose, according to Kellogg.

“Hopefully my piece of ephemera can mark the beginning of a process where people begin to build a deeper personal relationship, learning how to provide themselves the acts of kindness and love we’ve been conditioned to believe can only come from others.”

Collections & Collaborations runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 21 in the University Union Gallery.