Arts & Life, Features, Fine & Performing Arts

‘Nine’ — more than just a number

Nine Bachelor of Fine Art students came together with a culmination of different artworks and ideas in their group exhibition, “Nine” in the School of Art Galleries. The name of the exhibit, while it represents the number of artists involved, is a tribute to the number nine and its many symbols, such as representing the completion of a cycle in numerology and the number of an inward voyage in tarot cards. As written in the group’s exhibit description, the meanings of “Nine” represent these ideas as the students are soon to embark on a new journey after completing their BFA degrees. Videos, photos, books and more are displayed throughout “Nine,” all ranging in different subjects from culture and sexuality to veteran PTSD therapy and other topics.

The Daily 49er sat down with three of the nine artists of the exhibit to gain more insight on the creative process and artistic inspirations of the project.


Andrew Fischer, senior, BFA in photography

Fischer created the video “Operation Raw Hide.” His eight minute video features surfing as an alternative therapy to “heal the mind” of veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

After you graduate, what kind of things are you planning to do with art?

I work with the school already as the photographer and videographer for [Long Beach State University’s] sports program so I’m just going to try to stick with that. I’m more commercial with a lot of my work. This [“Operation Raw Hide”] is a lot more fine art than my previous work so I’m kind of banking on going more of a commercial route as far as photography goes. I definitely want to continue this and I’ll probably push this work a little more.

How long does it take to make a video like you created?

It’s about an eight minute video and we did about two or three different interview days just so I could build a higher level of comfort with [Sergeant Jefferson Frame, the veteran featured in his video]. As far as different surf days of filming and editing, it took maybe a week.

How did you get into making videos?

That’s a tough one. Especially since I started out with photo[s] … a photograph can tell a lot, you know? They say a photograph can tell 1,000 words but I just felt like it wasn’t telling enough almost, so in many ways video allows you that extra layer and length of time to get your message across. I think there’s a lot that can be said to have the actual person tell you something from themselves and their perspective rather than me put up an image about them and my interpretation of what they’re going through or what they saw.


Soledad Villa, senior, BFA in photography

Villa’s multi-book series titled “handmedowns” is based on Operation Wetback, which was one of the biggest mass deportations during World War II.

What is the overarching idea or goal of your artwork?

For me, it’s just like opening conversations of our histories. I think that it’s important that we emphasize things that are wrong. For a long time as a child I believed that the things that happened were because it was important for our history and we don’t argue against it.

When did you realize that you wanted to become an artist?

Honestly I’ve been saying that I wanted to be an artist since I was a little girl but for me, art meant good drawings and other stuff. But it became more prevalent that I wanted to be more into fine art when I started becoming self-aware, aware of my surroundings and what I meant to myself. I had to mentally prepare myself for becoming an artist and the reality of what that pertains to, whether financially or emotionally.

Did you cover the idea of talking about cultural history in the past and how has it expanded through this exhibit?

I would like to think more globally. It would be nice to think more about everyone else besides myself. I think that’s where this practice came from — like instead of actually taking the photos myself or being the photographer I was researching more, and the archives themselves became more important. Those books [in the exhibit] were abandoned books and I would purchase them and they’re all like U.S. history books. The research itself has become very important to me, it has become more important than making the work itself for some strange reason.


Bethany Pangilinan, senior, BFA in photography

Pangilinan displayed three side-by-side portraits called “Coconut” in the group exhibit “Nine.” These portraits of her family showcase one photo with her family members in Filipino dress and another photo with them wearing Americanized clothing.

What inspired you to these create side-by-side portraits?

When I started here I was more of a commercial photographer, but being in class with these people made me think more about how their work is so based in who they are and their culture and their pride for their culture. And I never really understood that for me. I never did any kind of work that was based around who I was. It was never personal work. It made me question who I was and why I never felt that kind of pride and so that’s kind of what inspired me.

Growing up I moved around a lot. I’m a first-generation college student, my parents immigrated here from the Philippians. My dad was in the military and so we moved around a lot. And so that added to the idea that I never really understood who I was or where I was from. Like when people ask me where I’m from I’m just like, ‘Um, I don’t really know.’

Are you planning to continue this theme of culturally-based photography in the future?

Definitely, I feel like a lot of my work is identity-based. It’s so much easier for us to make something that we know and especially in this point in my life where I’m still trying to figure out who I am, it’s easier to talk about and figure out through making art.

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