In September 2019, Arts Connection hosted an open countywide community exhibition to populate the walls of the Clara & Allen Gresham Art Gallery of San Bernardino Valley College with the words and images of what life looks and feels like across San Bernardino County. “From photographs of the view from your window or a portrait of your family to a short poem or a collage of people and images, these walls represent the vivid, textured layers of our lives that we can never see in one pass on a map.”
A map only contains the layers of information we decide to include and the lens we choose to put on. When you look at a map of San Bernardino County, it is a vast space containing over 20,000 square miles, where 75% of the population lives on just 2.5% of the land. But this data doesn’t convey the rich experiences each of you have with the land you love, steward and share with those closest to you.
This is a gallery sized portrait of those selves and those places that populate the largest county in the lower 48. Those 24 cities, 27 census designated places, 77 unincorporated communities, 5 reservations, and 3 ghost towns.
We received 33 submissions from across the county, with artists from each of the distinct bioregions. Sculptural gourd lamps, interactive, decorative books, family portraits, creative self-portraiture, paintings, photography, pastels, drawings and collage make this exhibition is as diverse and varied as the terrain and people that comprise the county.
The works were arranged geographically according to the subject matter of the work. San Bernardino County is designated by 5 districts, or regions, so the work was organized in sections that mirror this map feature. Biographies of the artists were laid out on pedestals according to the numbered region they represented. As you walked around the gallery you might even have been able to imagine how vast this space is and how many voices and places were not present in this show. Does this inspire you to explore the County’s rich cultural history in some new way?
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