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UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum exhibitions examine art and politics
Unknown photographer, Woman Resisting Arrest, Birmingham, Alabama, April 14, 1963, courtesy of Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images, Los Angeles, California.

SANTA BARBARA, CA.- Four fall exhibitions, each exploring the intersection of art and politics, opened today at UC Santa Barbara's Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

"Freedom Now!" showcases photographs rarely seen in mainstream media, which depict the power wielded by black men, women and children in remaking United States society through their activism. The exhibition has been curated by Martin Berger, professor of history of art and visual culture at UC Santa Cruz.

The exhibition "Year of Rebellion" documents a tumultuous 12 months in Isla Vista, when activists and protesters demonstrated against the Vietnam War and UCSB policies. The violent and nonviolent confrontations of 1970 resulted in the burning of the Bank of America, one death, hundreds of arrests and increased student involvement in UC governance.

Joseph S. Melchione, then the undergraduate photo editor of El Gaucho, the student newspaper at the time, documented these large-scale student movements with his first camera. The exhibition features Melchione's suite of photographs accompanied by issues of the newspaper in which they first appeared and flyers produced by student organizations, presenting the year of rebellion through a student lens. This exhibition has been curated by Chris Marino, project archivist for the museum's Architecture and Design Collection.

The exhibition "Art and Its Discontents" employs playful, serious and innovative means of addressing artists' discontent with issues surrounding political figures and politics, identity, gender and race. Drawn largely from the museum's permanent collection, the exhibition focuses on the vital role art continues to play in highlighting and combating abuses of power, stereotypes, inequality and suppression. This exhibition has been curated by Elyse A. Gonzales, the museum's curator of exhibitions.

Among the artists represented are Laylah Ali, Dotty Attie, Gretchen Bender, Nancy Dwyer, Lyle Ashton Harris, Hung Liu, Rachel Lachowicz, Gordon Matta-Clark, Raymond Pettibon, Lari Pittman, Ellen Rothenberg, Ben Sakoguchi, Ilene Segalove, Paul Shambroom, Travis Somerville, Fred Wilson and David Wojnarowicz.

"Ambiguous Histories: Selected Works from the Exit Art Portfolios" explores contemporary artists' use of history through their references to traditional artistic processes and canonical works of art and architecture. Curated by UCSB alumna Anna Muriello ('13), the exhibition highlights a recent gift of works from Exit Art, a now-closed alternative art space that provided a platform for multicultural or emerging artist to respond to critical and controversial contemporary issues.

The four exhibitions continue through Dec. 13.

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