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Grad student Alexandra Duron designed the award-winning "Querer es Poder: 50 Examples" photo exhibit. Photo by Kelly Lacefield

Art as Inspiration

Student Designer of Award-Winning Photo Exhibition Motivates Others

June 30, 2009

By Mimi Ko Cruz

Alexandra Duron

Age: 27

Major: MFA degree in art, expected in 2010 from Cal State Fullerton

Undergraduate degree: B.A. in English from UC Berkeley, 2004

Residence: Orange

Favorite pastimes: Yoga, dance, swimming, combing through vintage and antique stores

Favorite book: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Favorite films: Wes Anderson and Hayao Miyazaki films

Favorite quote: "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive."— Dalai Lama

Alexandra Duron wants to promote cultural understanding through art. As the designer of "Querer es Poder: 50 Examples," a photo exhibition of 50 of Cal State Fullerton's successful Latino alumni, she helped do just that. Querer es Poder is Spanish for "if you have the desire, you can achieve."

The exhibit, which debuted at Santa Ana City Hall in March, 2008, then traveled to Irvine City Hall and Fullerton City Hall, now is on permanent display at the university's Pollak Library. It has won won a gold medal in the 2009 Council for Advancement and Support of Education Circle of Excellence Awards Program. The aim of the exhibit is to motivate young people to attain a college education.

Q: What do you think about the exhibit?

I think "Querer es Poder: 50 Examples" is so inspirational for the Latino community and for anyone who aspires to achieve great things in life. I am still in awe of what these 50 people have accomplished. One of my favorite parts of this experience has been to watch the public interact with the exhibit, especially parents with their children. I hope visitors take the experience of what they read about these people and the positive visual examples they see, and encourage the people in their own lives to pursue their goals. I hope the exhibit motivates students to continue the legacy of excellence that these alumni have established.

Q: What are your goals?

I am keeping my mind open to different possibilities as far as career plans, but I would definitely like to be involved in curating exhibitions, working with a museum's collections and perhaps opening my own gallery someday.

Q: How do you see yourself contributing to the world?

I plan to take what I'm learning as an exhibition design student at Cal State Fullerton and apply it to exhibitions that encourage an understanding of different cultures. I hope to organize exhibits in the future that teach people or awaken them to new ideas.

Q: Why?

I think it's important for people to be introduced to cultures outside of their own and ideologies they might not be familiar with, in order to better understand and respect the world around them. Art exhibitions provide a firsthand experience for people, enabling them to become acquainted with cultures that are geographically distant, while also introducing them to ideas that differ from their own. People often have preconceived ideas about unfamiliar cultures, and art exhibitions can open their minds to a new way of thinking about them.

Q: Who inspires you and why?

My parents, sister, extended family and boyfriend. They're all very hard-working people with unique talents, goals and life experiences. We're all very close and we all support each other. My parents have always encouraged me in all my endeavors, educational and otherwise.

Q: What turned you on to art?

I've always loved art. Since I was a little girl, my parents always took me to museums. I've traveled to Europe twice, once to London as a student in a study-abroad program when I took art classes and I went to all the different museums. The classes I took were taught in the museums and the paintings were our textbooks. I remember one of my first visits to the Getty with my mom. We were looking at Van Gogh's "Irises" and I was inspired by his paintings.

Q: Who are your favorite artists?

Two of my favorite artists are Mexican photographers Lola Alvarez Bravo and Graciela Iturbide. They have such powerful voices through their photography that shows in their choices of subject matter and in their treatments of their subjects. They are very strong women and I admire that. I also am fascinated by artists who reference Art Nouveau and who combine traditional and digital media in unique ways.

Q: What are you working on now?

I'm curating, with Sarah Strozza, "Redefining the Line: Art Nouveau & the Female Figure," which opens Aug. 29 at the Cal State Fullerton Main Art Gallery, It features design, illustration and installation work of international contemporary artists Pomme Chan, Deanne Cheuk, Naja Conrad-Hansen, Aya Kato, Pandarosa, Marguerite Sauvage, Alberto Seveso, Sonya Suhariyan, Yoshi Tajima and Eveline Tarunadjaja.

The exhibit investigates the influence of historical Art Nouveau on contemporary artists and displays work by artists who use traditional and digital media. Today, about 100 years since its development, artists continue to reference Art Nouveau in terms of the female image, the decadent curvilinear embellishments, and the influence of Japanese woodblock prints. Contemporary artists interpret these ideas by incorporating the stylistic and symbolic notions of “the line” in a way that reflects the values and style of the 21st century. "Redefining the Line" demonstrates the impact designers and illustrators have made on our visual culture. These artists successfully merge the fine art and commercial art worlds, applying fine art techniques and art historical ideas to commercial avenues geared toward fashion, music and popular culture.

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