Diego Rivera’s mural, “Pan American Unity,” highlights not just the interdependence of the northern and southern hemispheres, but the alliance of science, the arts, labor, and liberation struggle in the pursuit of progress. In that same spirit, my work attempts to illustrate the concept of “intersectionality:” Groups working to further their own specific goals while forming alliances that allow them to share those they hold in common, united in the broader movement for justice. I believe that Diego Rivera would have encouraged us to pursue this strategy today.
I enrolled in the City College of San Francisco’s studio art program in Winter 2019. As a senior, I attended non-credit courses in studio art and life drawing at CCSF’s Fort Mason campus. It was a wonderful opportunity to enhance my skills and develop new techniques in the company of many other enthusiastic, committed students. Unfortunately, the course had to be terminated as a result of budget cuts and, of course, the pandemic. All of us were deeply disappointed to lose this extraordinary enrichment experience and hope that the program will soon be restored.
In 1967, I met a man who rode with the freedom riders. 7 years later, I worked briefly with Bernard Zakheim, Diego Rivera’s onetime assistant. These events are not as far apart as you might think. Zakheim was an activist through his art. I’ve spent the years after that as a muralist, crazy fine artist, and small potatoes activist. In the meantime, I had the privilege of attending classes at City College, involved in 40 + murals, 50 + exhibits.
This work is called “Syria / Paris” or “Their Stories Must be Told,” two drawings on Arches paper, each approximately 10” x 15”. They are a dyptych, intended to be maquettes for a mural.
Of course, these drawings are not just about Syria, and not just about Paris. It’s about experiencing crisis. Few people I know here have been bombed, or have even been shot at. May art continue to reflect the wisdom of Diego Rivera, and Zakheim.
Rivera’s Pan American Unity Mural shows the possibilities if we unite and work for the common good. The following drawings are from City College’s Figure Drawing Class that shows the diversity of the school and San Francisco.
The school is an invaluable resource for San Franciscans; almost every native San Franciscan has used CCSF or knows someone who has attended the school. It provides valuable training and education for the entire city – the essential workers who can’t afford school, immigrants, college bound students, minorities, older adults, and re-entry students.
City College is a great place to explore and develop yourself and meet like-minded people. At CCSF, I recently completed a Multimedia Content Creation for the Internet Certificate of Achievement, learning video and audio production, website development, social media, and graphic design. I have been studying art, creative writing, poetry, acting, and digital multimedia content. The CCSF’s Literary and Art magazine, Forum, has accepted my artwork, a big change from my old job, software engineering.
Following college, I taught in Mexico for five years, took a break from teaching, only to return to it at age 54, all the while continuing my own artistic development along the lines of Georgia O’Keefe, Wolf Khan, Romare Bearden, and Matisse. My art is a summary of my life’s travels.
My series of churches from Oaxaca relates to the Diego mural as they are symbols of Spanish oppression of Indigenous people throughout Mexico. I purposely included the distance mountains containing the precious metals that provided the wealth for the Spanish monarchy.
City College San Francisco has been my mentor, and now that I am retired from San Francisco Unified School District, my Country Club. The superb teachers in all departments have enriched my life by sharing their knowledge, passions, and skills. I have returned to learning French, I have had a chance to study Fashion – a passion of mine since a teenager, I have conquered a fear of Photoshop, and I have relearned how to draw the human body. During the Pandemic with Zoom classes it kept me going, the homework assignments focused my life and attention, and for that I am thankful.
Instructor in the Theatre Arts Department since 1987. Laid off after 33 years in 2020. Favorite class taught was Acting for the Camera and she directed the big spring musicals. Mamma Mia! was the last in 2019.
A native San Franciscan, Deborah attended the University of San Francisco for her undergrad work and received her Master’s and Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University. She still lives close to the campus and will treasure her time at CCSF.
Pencil drawing of Actress Paulette Goddard in a 1953 American film noir crime film, Vice Squad. The film is also known as The Girl in Room 17. Paulette Goddard starred opposite Edward G. Robinson as escort agency madam, Mona Ross.
It was George Gershwin who gave her a passion for Mexico and who introduced her to Diego Rivera. Diego Rivera credits Ms. Goddard for saving his life with a phone call warning him that police were coming to arrest him for suspected involvement in the assassination attempt on Leon Trotsky’s life. He managed to hide and eventually flee the country.