ESPM 50 Creative Projects

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  • For All, For No One

    A portrayal of the Klamath River ecosystem, with attention to important plants and animals to the Yurok tribe. The title addresses the different views of nature that have imparted on the same land in the form of property rights.Meaning, in the Yurok property rights system: all the richness of the ecosystem is for all to enjoy, but it is no one person's alone.
  • A Flower Among Weeds

    San Jose's horizon shows an amalgam of urban, suburban, and rural landscapes, which is representative of the various stages of San Jose's history. Described upon first sight as "The Valley of Heart's Desire," San Jose has started out as open mountains and fields. Over time the city was dominated by fruit orchards as canneries became a lucrative business rooted in San Jose. Soon, the majority of San Jose population settled in the center of the valley, what is known as downtown. At the center of San Jose rising tall buildings that make up its urban environment. However, the Mt Diablo mountain range still surrounds the center of this million-member city, while suburbs grow by the borders. San Jose stretches as far as the eye can see from some of its beautiful vista points. I painted this to display San Jose's dynamic landscape, which preserved its roots in nature even as the city grew and changed over time. Though its population grows at an increasing rate at the center of Silicon Valley, San Jose still possesses growing woods, clear mountains, hiking trails, and an abundance of wildlife.
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind

    I know who I am—a proud Asian American. But why was I so blind to the suffering of my own people who poured their blood, sweat, and tears into this land so I can proudly stand where I am today? Why is our past forgotten? Why is our presence erased by the media in the present? Why is our future so uncertain?
  • Hopi Coiled Basket Plague

    This is a coiled basket plague in the style of the Native American tribe Hopi. Basket weaving has been an important part of the Hopi culture for many centuries, and the coiling technique applied to make this basket was one of three main methods they used while weaving.
  • Panamint City: A Ghost Town Lost in Time

    Nestled in a valley in the Panamint Mountain Range, Panamint City was once a bustling town during the California Gold Rush. In 1876, a flash flood roared through the valley and washed out most of the town. Though numerous attempts have been made to reestablish mining operations, in 1983, another flash flood wiped away roads to the bedrock, making the city permanently inaccessible to vehicles. In spring 2018, I backpacked to the ghost town and cataloged its current condition. I hope that by viewing these pictures, people think about the fragility of human settlement classical conflict of "man versus nature".
  • environmental consonance

    This painting is based on interviews I conducted over the course of a week, with six people who grew up in Santa Ana, CA, and identify as children of Mexican immigrants. We discussed their environmental perspectives and practices in the context of their cultural backgrounds, identities, and experiences growing up in Orange County. From these testimonies I have noticed there is a significant disconnect in Santa Ana from the traditional Mexican ecological knowledge that was so prevalent only a few generations ago. I hope that with this painting I can illustrate what it means to grow up with the unique environmental worldview of a person who has experienced the dynamic process of cultural adaptation. This adaptation can be represented as nonlinear movement involving a cultural synthesis of immigration history with adaptation to mainstream ideology.
  • Bison Hunt

    The American Bison experienced a swift decline in population size in the late nineteenth century due to habitat loss by westward expansion and bison hunting parties. While the Native Americans relied on bison as a primary food source, non-indigenous people hunted the species for sport and simply left them dead on the prairies. This forced Native Americans to be more compliant in relocating to reservations because of their dependency on the US government for a new food source. Buffalo also served an important ecological role of cultivating the prairies which allowed the growth of a diverse range of native plants and the loss of such plants is thought to be a contributing factor to the dust bowl in the early twentieth century. Illustrated on the left is a grazing buffalo in a thriving prairie, and on the right is a hunted buffalo in a dry prairie with dust clouds forming in the back.
  • The Corn Mother

    In front of you is my portrayal of The Corn Mother— the central figure in a Native American myth that describes the origin of corn. One version of the myth describes the sprouting of corn from the places where a woman’s corpse, that of The Corn Mother’s, is dragged (by some accounts, She gave consent to be killed). Via Her death was She able to feed a hungry tribe.
  • Boom

    In 1881, Hercules was established as a company town for the Hercules Powder Company, a chemical and munitions manufacturing company that was known for its specially patented dynamite called Hercules, named after the greek mythological hero for being so powerful. Its remote location at the time as well as its proximity to the Central Pacific Railroad and San Pablo Bay led this city to be the company's ideal location for the production of explosives. A majority of those working under these dangerous conditions were Chinese laborers, who often faced discrimination from their white employers. The City of Hercules has greatly changed from what it once was; today the suburban commuter city is home to a ethnically diverse population of approximately 25,000.
  • California Water

    California water history has been turbulent in the past century. While the abundance of this natural resource has enabled California to become the state it is today, its wealth has not always been distributed equally among everyone. I tried to create a visual timeline of key milestones, but in consideration of the space I had to work with, many of the landmarks are not explicitly written; you have to look a little. Observe the gradient of water, and how the water quality appears to decline with the passage of time. I tried to hide little easter eggs throughout (they might've been a too subtle though), so look for them!
  • Hamburger Tree

    Obviously hamburgers don't grow on trees and cannot be picked by someone to eat then and there. So where do hamburgers and many other foods that Americans eat come from? Who raises the meat, in what conditions and where and how is the cheese, bread, and lettuce created? Is it from a small local farm or a large corporation? This picture also shows that many American processed foods are easier and cheaper to access than unprocessed foods. How do these food prices in America and the origins of the food you eat impact the environment and social equality?
  • Wolves in Yellowstone

    My painting depicts the positive effects of reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone after they were hunted to extinction in the early 1900s. Wolves radically changed the entire ecosystem. I tried to depict more species on the right hand side, and a variety of plant growth.
  • Exotic Pets of California: True Meaning of Animal and Human Relationship

    People these days consider their pets as their "family" and show deep love towards them. However, one must question the origins of pets, and how pet industry began through captivating wild animals and forcing them to the human environment. This artwork was inspired by a recent ferret protest of California's ferret owners who supported the legalization of ferret owning in the state. They criticized the government for treating such innocent animals as criminals that disrupts California's ecosystem. They said they are doing this for their ferrets, but would a ferret want to live in the wild, or with "family"?
  • Life Within Nature

    My piece hopes to explore the effects and juxtaposition between nature as an open space with the Native Americans with the privatization from the colonists. Here, it shows the re-creation of the gentrification map shown in class with the Mississippi river and the areas around it bounded into the different plots of land that people can acquire which are then also separated into the various smaller plots for the different types of crops. For people viewing this piece, maybe they will draw the connection between industrialization for the betterment of producing agriculture but also see that it creates a divide between nature and humans. "Life Within Nature" expands on the idea of production by commodification and recognize that we are not at one with nature anymore, we are just living within the nature that we decided to divide.
  • Carbon Farming to Sustainable Wool to Garment

    This project aims to look at how the integration of carbon farming in small scale wool farms displays a shift in cultural values and how that shift in values went on to alter societal actions and our interaction with the natural world. The four colors of the sweater aim to represent the four elements of the carbon cycle; the blue representing water, rain, and the atmosphere, the concrete grey representing the human world, the dark forest green representing vegetation, and the light grey representing the natural wool produced from the cycle. The color mixing sections are meant to display the complex interconnections between the elements of the cycle and show how you may be able to distinguish between the different elements but you cannot separate one from another without deconstructing the entire cycle (or sweater). The cables down the sides are meant to display an additional level of connections within the cycle, how we may be able to see some complexities more easily than others, and how we have to act carefully with natural systems because there are often more complexities than we initially recognize.
  • The Man and Crock

    From the Gold Rush Era to now, Environment is like a vessel of humanity. Sometimes, environment, as if a crock, contains our shapeless humanity; and sometimes, environment, as if a meduim, takes us from one place to another.
  • Uprooted

    This piece is meant to convey the relationship between the environment and humanity. The red represents human arteries. The tattered ends symbolize the attempted detachment of humans from nature. By denying the inseparability of the two, we are destroying ourselves along with our surroundings.
  • A Skewed Perception

    Looking up at a truly dark night sky creates a sense of awe and reminds us that we are connected to this greater universe; however most of us have a skewed perception of the night sky as we live in heavily light polluted urban areas. While lights serve a useful purpose, the light pollution emitted physically separates us from the natural world by blocking our view of the night sky. This painting flips the typical scene of people stargazing and instead depicts a tree gazing at the city lights, similar to how we have flipped the natural night lighting of the earth.
  • Chasing the Beavers

    This drawing focus on the environmental changes due to the vast hunting of beavers during the fur trade period. The goal is to inform that any actions we take right now will affect not only human, but the whole ecosystem around us. This time we choose to do a drawing to show our topic on the impact of the historical fur trade on the ecosystem; because we think art will be more intuitive to show than tell in words.
  • From the Fire

    In the wake of the October fires that devastated my community in the North Bay, I wanted to create a piece that symbolized hope and rebirth in a time of tragedy. I drew upon readings from my ESPM 50 class that recalled the fire management techniques that Native Americans used; we learned how their fires revitalized the soil with essential nutrients and eventually created lush meadows. I can only hope that the same spirit of rejuvenation will make the North Bay even stronger in the tough years to come, as people try to reassemble their lives after the most devastating urban wildfire California has ever seen.
  • More than Just a Dumb Fish

    Growing up in the Central Valley, I constantly heard about the Delta Smelt. With these four images, I hope to display some of the arguments in this controversy and point the ridiculous nature of some.
  • Gentrification in Oakland

    In my art, I decided to illustrate and use the symbol of yin and yang to demonstrate how gentrification is affecting Oakland. I wanted to create a visual representation of the "good" and the "bad" side side of gentrification and who is getting affected and benefiting from this. I wanted to illustrate this through a series of drawing and illustrations without many words being involved. I decided to illustrate this be creating like each side in the case of how people of color are being affected on the left side and how white people are benefiting on the right side.
  • Water Crisis Incarnate

    Our art project is on the topic of Flint Water Crisis. The project will portray three different perspectives surrounding the crisis by highlighting key figures that were involved in this public health crisis, namely the guilty parties, affected parties and activists. We created three portraits with various photoshop technique applied, and the artistic objective of this artwork is to show the correlation between social and environmental aspect of the Flint water crisis and the magnitude to which the crisis impacted people of Flint. Through this we are addressing for environmental justice.
  • The harvest

    The painting depicts the agricultural system of some Native American tribes. There's an illustration of Mother Corn granting the essential food to the natives, which consists of the Three Sisters (corn, bean, squash).
  • Archaic but Displaced

    Gentrification in the Mission District of San Francisco is an ongoing process. However, the social clashes it creates is as blatant as the striking differences one sees of the infrastructure on the streets. Yoga classes held next to a family-owned grocery store. Nicely-dressed "hipster" tourists passing by the run-down barber shop. These juxtapositions represent the struggles that native residents face as their neighborhood disappears before their eyes due to skyrocketing rent prices, decreasing wage labor, and increasing evictions.
  • The [Built] Environment

    This series was inspired by the aesthetic similarities between natural environments and manmade structures. The photographs were paired to emphasize the analogous forms, lighting, and spatial qualities between nature and architecture, illustrating the way in which architecture mimics nature. This idea of the natural world acting as a precedent for architecture begs the question of why we place such a low monetary value on preserving our national parks, monuments, and other natural sites.
  • Cultural Integration

    Geographical surrounding pose significant influence on cultural formation and my roots in Northeastern China have shaped me deeply. This is compounded when I attempt to integrate into culture of Bay Area, where has totally different geography and social landscape from my hometown. I expressed this internal cultural confrontation by exploring the geographical influences imposed by places that I once lived and am currently living. The Hukou Waterfall on the left side is the largest waterfall on the Yellow River, China. The combination of two different colors of water represents the integration of eastern and western cultures.
  • Reclamation

    “Reclamation” depicts a post-human cityscape in the process of being consumed by plant life. This piece explores the opposing forces of nature and society through an abstract representation of human neglect of the environment resulting in the decline of the human race and unrestricted growth of nature. It serves as a reminder of both human impact on the world and nature’s inability to be suppressed.
  • Into the Ditch: Fleeing a Third World

    My mother was a child refugee during the Viet Nam War; as her family escaped Laos and headed into Thailand, her father yelled, “Quick, into the ditch!” to avoid the bombs the United States released onto our motherland. The trauma of fleeing war has left my mother in a state of displacement, making navigating life in America difficult. Many Southeast Asian communities are still trying to assimilate to a country that does not want them, a country that does not welcome refugees. Even now, many Southeast Asian communities still live in poverty and face environmental injustices—like food insecurity and poor living conditions—because the US Government fails to acknowledge and aid the communities it pushed out of their own motherland. At the center is the ditch my mother would curl up in to avoid the bombs, but it still resides within her and passed down unto her children where we remain in the ditch and are continuing the struggle of getting out.
  • Tales from the Gold Mountain

    "Tales from the Gold Mountain" depicts Chinese transcontinental railroad workers travelling through the Sierra Nevada mountains. The piece is done in a traditional Chinese watercolor style to depict the idealization of California in the late 1800s. The upper left corner depicts an old Chinese poem describing the sojourner experience. It reads: Dispirited by life in my village home, I make a journey specially to the United States of America. Separated by mountains and passes, I feel an extreme anxiety and grief; Rushing about east and west does me no good. Turning in all directions— An ideal opportunity has yet to come. If fate is indeed Heaven's will, what more can I say? 'Tis a disgrace to a man's pride and dignity.
  • Water Management in California

    I am a MCB and Math double major who appreciates art in all forms. Since I have started college I have not had a chance to practice art so I took advantage of this opportunity and made this piece for my final project. This piece is a timeline for all of the important events, policies, and infrastructures that are related to water management in California. The timeline starts from 1848 and it goes until 2010. My goal is that people can picture and understand these events better, after having a visual representation.
  • Mosaic Landscape

    This piece integrates different gathered and found materials to explore the following questions. How do we see ourselves in relation to the natural world? How does this perspective change over time, and how does this change impact the physical landscapes we inhabit? How can we use different types of mapping and artistic representation to explore these concepts?
  • Legacy

    Our generation leaves the scene on the left, looking forward to bright futures. But, we leave destruction in our wake; from fires to drought to pollutions, the Earth is left ravaged and dying. The future generations walk in, entering the mess we've left behind. Will they be able to live in this dying world?
  • The Ashes of Our Past/Alone

    San Francisco's Embarcadero is an essential part of the City, but when we walk along it's famous piers, we have to wonder how much we have altered the picturesque view before us. "The Ashes of Our Past" shows these drastic alterations in such a way to evoke a feeling of loss by burning the top layer of the drawing; indeed, there is a loss of the romantic vision of a perfect, pristine landscape today. "Alone", the companion piece to "The Ashes of Our Past," is a more personal take on a burned photograph that hopefully many can relate to.
  • Station Aloha

    Ocean acidification is the process in which high concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide are deposited into oceans, altering the water's chemical makeup. Carbonic acid, free hydrogen ions, and bicarbonate molecules are direct byproducts which offset and degrade the health of ocean climates. Second degree effects include increased water temperatures, calcification impedance, and coral degradation. While these are universal products, they significantly affect coastal cities such as Honolulu, which heavily depend on marine habitats for economic, social, and environmental stability. Each art piece accompanies a concept associated with ocean acidification and perpetuates the notion that awareness and action must be generated - Hope you enjoy!
  • Generations

    Our project focuses on the contrasting serendipities of time and unfortunate hardships that shaped the Japanese immigrant experience, from their entrance into the agricultural sector starting 1884, through Japanese internment during World War 2, to their present-day experience in California. The painted backdrop reflects their emotional circumstances throughout this reverse timeline of Japanese generations. We incorporated mixed media as symbolic imagery of their culture with emphasis on Japanese impacts on the environment.
  • The more we place importance on greed, the less future we have

    The recent proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan was the inspiration for this muralesque painting. With the repeal, it is extremely likely there will be an increase in the CO2 emissions as regulations will be minimized, promoting continued use of coal power plants. While California is making its own clean power regulations, the CO2 emissions increasing in the future for the majority of the United States will still have effects in California. Not only does the increase in air pollution cause health issues as well as expedite aging, the continuing decline of snow in the California Sierra Nevada mountains will also minimize the water resources in California.
  • Japanese Americans and the Environment during Internment

    My grandparents were interned during World War II at Poston and Heart Mountain, so this was a very personal and informative experience for me. I talked to my grandma about creating these pieces, so I hope that the art conveys her memories and her feelings about internment. I wanted to focus on how the harsh, barren environment was both a form of oppression but also a tool for resistance and survival. Despite their grim circumstances and forced removal, Japanese Americans were resilient and found a sense of purpose by transforming the landscape, whether by farming, planting gardens, digging canals, or exploring the outdoors. I used very muted and faded out watercolor to parallel the Japanese American's removed and oppressed lives in camp alongside bolder colors to symbolically represent the prisoners' spirit and perseverance.
  • Looking to the Future from the Past - The California Condor

    The mixed media piece depicts the human factors which contributed to the extinction in the wild of the California Condor. From the bullet shards in the nest and the DDT bottle in the cave to the gold on the mountains and chains surrounding the bird, the piece is full of symbolism. "Looking to the future" is in the title of the piece because the purpose is not to dwell on past problems, but rather to get people thinking about how the past will influence the California condor species, now that it has been reintroduced into the wild.