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‘Artists Against Oppression’ discusses themes of oppression, brings together students and outside guests

Kaelah Serrano
Students look at artwork dedicated to reflect themes of oppression on Friday, April 19, 2024. Families, students and individuals gather on the second floor of the student center for the opening night of the exhibit.

Student Diversity and Inclusion partnered with Students for Justice in Palestine, Muslim Student Association and Student Organization Council for the opening night exhibit of “Artists Against Oppression,” an exhibit dedicated to “reflecting on experiences and observations of oppression.”

Over 30 registered attendees gathered on the second floor of the Student Center on April 19 for the opening night, to view their peers’ work while eating food catered from Cedars, a Palestinian-owned restaurant located in Hyde Park.

President of Students for Justice for Palestine Hedaya Hasan said that she loved seeing “everybody come together for the event.”

“It really made us feel connected to the campus because oftentimes, we do feel like we’re in a bubble,” Hasan said. 

The exhibit, described on its poster as “a call to action,” features 21 artists, some of which from other colleges and universities, including DePaul and Howard University.

Maya Abraham, a junior fine arts major, said the exhibition was curated very well and covered a wide range of topics in oppression.

“I love the diversity that we have here. Not only covers the conflict in Palestine in overall themes of oppression, but also themes of female oppression, everything like that,” Abraham said. “It’s really interesting to see the whole theme of the exhibition come to light.”

Hasan said it was important to include students from other schools because of how little Columbia students interact with students from surrounding colleges.

“We have strict rules about allowing non-Columbia guests on campus, so it’s nice to have this collaborative event where we’re highlighting marginalized voices at Columbia but also bringing outside guests into Columbia to say, ‘Hey, we are here we are part of this community as well’ and that Columbia is not just like the majority white face that it presents,” Hasan said.

The exhibit will be shown in the Student Center until Sept. 30, and features a variety of sculptures, films, written pieces and visual art entirely done by students “relating to their observations and experiences of oppression.”

Experimental artist, Clair Filipiak submitted an illustration titled “Free Palestine,” which details a hoopoe, bald eagle and a Palestine sunbird to symbolize each country in front of a black, green and red background. The piece is described as “the ongoing bombardment of Gaza and the Palestinian people by Israel, as well as America’s role in enabling Israel to commit genocide.”

Hasan said often artists who speak out about these topics “don’t get a place in the professional world.”

“We’re really happy with how it came together,” Hasan said. “We’re super proud that it is in a professional space for these artists to express themselves because often, artists from these identities, artists who speak out about these topics, don’t get a place.”

Hasan said SJP hopes to do the show again next year to keep creating physical spaces on campus where students can express themselves.

“It’s so important for this work to happen, but it’s also important that other people join in and it’s not just us, attempting to create a space of dialogue and communication,” Hasan said.

First-year acoustics major Mayah Asuncion came to support some of her friends from the Asian Student Organization and said that the art was “very moving.”

“I feel like this is very impactful for it to be placed in the school here for so many people to see because it really brings to light where we stand as students,” Asuncion said.

Asuncion hopes exhibits like this on campus help educate students and “unite people for the cause.”

Copy edited by Lily Thomas

This story has been updated 

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About the Contributors
Vivian Richey
Vivian Richey, Assistant Campus Editor
vrichey@columbiachronicle.com   Vivian Richey is a sophomore journalism major, who reports on the college's Faculty Senate, Columbia's COVID-19 protocols and campus art exhibitions. She joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Kaelah Serrano
Kaelah Serrano, Photojournalist
kserrano@columbiachronicle.com   Kaelah Serrano is a junior photojournalism major. She has covered music festivals, campus art exhibitions and metro parades and protests. Serrano joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: Chicago, Illinois