Monday, January 30, 2017 10:21 AM
CLEVELAND, Tenn. – As a child, CSCC student Bianca Dedicatoria was bullied, and after working on her recent art exhibition, she realized she wasn’t alone. After interviewing 40 students and faculty members, Dedicatoria discovered that almost all of those interviewed had experienced some form of discrimination because of their ethnicity.
Her collection of artwork titled “Cultural Diversity in America, 2016” renders an understanding of the cultural diversity in the U.S. Each photograph in the body of work includes a photograph that represents the cultural diversity as well as an inscription of the individual’s social, cultural and political views and experiences.
“I have always been intrigued by how culturally different people are and yet they survive interacting with one another for a long period of time,” stated Dedicatoria.
Each interview took anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to complete and through the interviews, Dedicatoria was able to get to know each individual’s character, the relationship with his or her family and how their cultural background has impacted their lives here in the United States. She also learned of various discrimination experiences encountered, and during the course of the interviews, each individual really opened up to her about these experiences.
“I thought it would be interesting to feature other people’s perspectives and experiences,” stated Dedicatoria. “They all had some sort of story, and I wanted to tell it. I wanted them to know that I truly cared.”
And she did care because she had experienced discrimination at a young age herself. Growing up, Dedicatoria’s family traveled a lot, so she had to learn several different languages. Originally from the Phillipines, she moved to Indonesia when she was 12 years old. She was enrolled in an international school, but the other children made fun of her and felt that she was unfit to be there.
“Through this, I learned to be independent and do the best that I could so people would accept me…many of my friends were also bullied, and even now they still think about it. It really impacted them. They still feel uncomfortable about it, and that’s why they don’t like to talk about it. They still feel the hurt.”
Although she has had other exhibitions as a student at CSCC, this was Dedicatoria’s first solo art exhibition, which made it special for her. Through this exhibition, Dedicatoria said she learned a lot.
“I learned that whether a person is Asian, Latino, Hispanic, European or African-American, all had likely experienced various kinds of racism and criticism from people who are also culturally diverse…racism still exists no matter what your ethnicity.”
Mark McLeod, Associate Professor of Art, said, “The project was part of an individual problems course where students are allowed to explore their own interests in the pursuit of a body of work. Bianca expressed a desire to research various cultures on campus and document that experience through numerous interviews and photographs. I was impressed with the project and the diversity of Cleveland State’s student body.”
Dedicatoria said she really enjoys the art program at CSCC. “I like the fact that it is very diverse; we don’t just focus on one area. We have drawing, sculpting, painting, photography—you name it. Last year, I went to New York City for spring break with the art program, and it was such a great experience. We went to different museums, and I was able to see famous art work that I had wanted to see since I was young.”
Dedicatoria will graduate from Cleveland State in May with an Associate Degree in Art. She plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the fall where she plans to continue her education in Art.