On prospective students day, I distinctly remember spending fifteen minutes looking at the art, trying to figure out what it meant, why it was there, and what Pitzer had to do with it. A few months later, the same thing happened. It took me a long time to connect the dots behind the blue and white “AINFORFILAC” signs around campus. Initially, I was incredibly confused; why were the signs so modern, why were the words on the bottom different, and why were they here at Pitzer? After lots of thinking, I was reminded of the power art can have.
Edgar Heap of Birds’ exhibit forces us to confront multiple complex issues in America’s history. Pitzer is built on land that was taken from the Tongva people mirroring the widespread theft of America from the Native Americans. In that process, the world of the Tongva community was turned backwards, much like the California print on the sign. Till this day, Pitzer students are “hosts” on Tongva land. The signs are created with a modern aesthetic to comment on Pitzer as a modern institution.
It’s important to be mindful of the origins of the land comprising Pitzer College as we continually engage with it as a school that’s grounded in values like intercultural understanding, social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and interdisciplinary learning. Edgar Heap of Birds’ exhibit is significant; it reminds us to be critical of our surroundings and that art can be powerful in creating socio-cultural change.