City College art gallery reopens after facing pandemic challenges

New student art exhibition running through Oct. 28

Professor Wayne Hulgin showing art to students.

Professor Wayne Hulgin shows the complexities of an art piece created by Sarah Ruse to students in side the Fines Arts Gallery located on campus. Picture by Christopher Tapanes/City Times Media

Christopher Tapanes, Multimedia Journalist

Back in March 2019 when COVID-19 closed San Diego City College, the campus art gallery had just opened a student exhibition.

It ran for a week before the art department was mandated to close the gallery doors to the public, effectively shutting down the show.

During the height of the pandemic, all classes shifted to online and students had to show their works of art digitally.

Nineteen months later, City’s Fine Arts Gallery has reopened its doors for viewing once again.

The student art exhibition runs through Oct. 28 with stringent safety protocols in place. A reception for the artists will be on Oct. 27 from 4-7 p.m.

Only eight persons are allowed inside at a time and they must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving. 

Some parts of City College have reopened for in-person classroom instruction this fall. Among the few teaching on campus are art faculty Wayne Hulgin, Anna Delgado, and Terri Hughes-Oelrich.

The three professors are also part of the committee that oversees the success of the gallery with Hulgin being the overall curator and facilitator.

Among Hulgin’s students featured in the exhibition is Studio Art major Dustin Carroll, who has two art pieces on display. One is a colorful collage and the other is inspired by a dime with the words “in God we trust” on it.

Carroll said he was inspired to make a political statement about the words.

“The way that we look at money and the symbology that’s on it with the words ‘in God we trust,’ with liberty and all that stuff, I think it’s those things that drew me to it and the political debate over it,” he said.

In Hulgin’s class, Carroll produced his other work, which is a large abstract expressionist painting/collage. The materials for it were gathered from online and National Geographic magazines.

“I wanted to go with these strong themes of Biblical art and part historical, so I used some Egyptian influence in there and a face with a profile that looks like Jesus or something,” Carroll said, “I also used some other aspects with feminine qualities with breasts attached and for me, it was all intuitive.”

Carroll said achieving commercial success was not his motive in doing his art but to produce work he is proud of and that others can enjoy. 

Hulgin said seeing the art in person as opposed to being online is night and day.

“You have to see it in person,” said Hulgin, a professor who has been instructing at City College for the past 25 years. “It’s art, a visual you have to see. It’s like going to a museum. You look at a book and it doesn’t do the same justice as seeing it in person.”

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