Artist: Dalia Bañuelos, Daniel Bonilla-Vera
Gallery: Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
Media: Photography, sculpture, fabric
Instagram: @daliaeffects, @dvbqp
Dalia Bañuelos and Daniel Bonilla-Vera are both undergraduate students at California State University, Long Beach. Dalia Bañuelos is currently a Studio Art major who transferred from the Los Angeles Valley College, while Daniel Bonilla-Vera is a Photography major who transferred from the College of the Sequoias in the San Joaquin Valley. Both artists are looking towards graduating this upcoming year. During their free time, Dalia also does martial arts while Daniel does other types of art, like carving and sculpting. Dalia and Daniel met around two years ago and have one striking similarity between them—both were rejected from the BFA program in Photography. Unlike Daniel who has another chance at getting admitted to the program, Dalia, unfortunately, cannot apply again. According to Dalia, an art student only gets two tries at getting into the program.
This exhibition, titled “Infraction” caught my attention when I saw it was covered by a black curtain. Curiosity got the best of me, and I decided that I wanted to see what was hiding behind the curtains. Once I managed to enter the gallery, I was surprised at how intricate the setting looked. I saw what looked like paint splattered onto a paper almost dangling off the wall, while another photograph on the wall was barely holding on as well. Besides that, the end of the gallery had photographs attached to a black string of yarn. This photographs hanging by the string were also placed in an intricate manner. Below the photographs, there were two mannequins that were in a scrunched position on the floor, almost as if both represented people who had gone through a traumatic experience––like getting rejected from something you had worked so hard for. Beside the entrance, I also saw a trashcan full of what seemed to be photographs.
There is a reason this gallery was arranged this way; with an complex interior. As explained by Daniel, an infraction is the violation of a law, or a set of rules. In order for an artist to be able to hold an exhibition at the galleries, their artwork must be displayed in a certain arrangement. Considering the fact that both Dalia and Daniel have been rejected into the BFA program, their exhibition was a way to make a statement. Dalia explained that this their own “rejection” of those rules. Interestingly, all the pieces of artwork in this gallery were rejected by their professors. Their gallery was also held by one large string of yarn, just one. If this string were to be cut in any way, the photographs and paintings being held by it would be affected by it. Adding onto the analysis of this gallery, the mannequins laying on the floor also represent them. Like stated before, the position they were in made it seem like they had gone through something devastating––which did happen to both artists. Although this is something that can discourage an art student from continuing their studies, Dalia and Daniel decided to make a gallery that would make a statement against those who decided to deny them. Getting together for this collaboration was not easy for Dalia, considering she had asked other students before meeting Daniel to join her. She states that those students were also devastated that they were not admitted into the program, but still refused to take part in this sort of response. Daniel has another chance of getting into the program and is currently waiting for an admission, or the final rejection.
I understand how nerve-wracking this can be, wanting something so desperately, working so hard for it, putting your absolute best effort, and still not managing to obtain your goal. Of course, I cannot say I’ve been through something as overwhelming as this, but I can understand why they have decided to respond to this experience in this way. I support them not conforming to the unfortunate ideas of professors considering a student’s art “awful” or “unworthy,” for an artist takes pride in their artwork. I am glad to know that Dalia is still continuing her studies and I wish her the best in future admissions to other programs she may be considering. I also wish Daniel the best of luck in getting an admission into the program. Overall, I really loved this exhibition.