It Takes An Artist: A Show About Mentorship

As Gallery D’s debut art exhibition, It Takes An Artist: A Show About Mentorship connects 5 local, professional artists in the San Diego-Baja region and shares from each community they are cultivating as teaching artists. Exhibiting artists are Beliz Iristay, Bhavna Mehta, Lee Puffer, Rizzhel Javier, and Dia Bassett. Following the theme of mentorship, each local, professional artist is exhibiting work alongside the art of their selected students. Students from City Tree Christian School, the Oceanside Library, Rancho El Faro Orphanage, Palomar College, and MiraCosta College are exhibiting artwork.


This exhibition focuses especially on community, and how artists are conducive to building the valuable relationships that foster some of community’s vital elements—growth, and exchange. The artists in this show, for example, have taken workshops from one another, mentored each other, and taught students of diverse ages. The result is an inter-generational exhibition, with students ranging from kindergarten up to college level. Students from different neighborhoods and schools have the opportunity to meet one another as they see their artwork displayed beside that of their mentors. The intent is to model art-making as well as community-building for these students and for them to one day foster their own communities as teacher, leaders, and responsible citizens, using their creative-thinking skills.


The dynamic contemporary art in this exhibition varies in form, style, and subject matter. Ceramic, fiber, paper, and photograph appropriately describe the artistic mediums these artists employ. However, each of these artists also pushes the boundaries of her chosen medium to the edges of possibilities. Craft, medium, and style, are now fluid terms. These artists, though diverse, are connected aesthetically by their experimental use of traditional techniques.

Some of these artists, like Rizzhel Javier, often use and teach mixed media to satisfy their artistic inclinations. Lee Puffer, known for her controversial and humorous figurative sculptures, is currently exploring watercolor in combination with collage. Beliz Iristay has been employing ceramic in unexpected ways to explore the themes of feminism and questions of cultural tradition. Dia Bassett creates abstract sculpture with large, erratic renditions of traditional fiber techniques like crochet, while Bhavna Mehta explores contemporary narratives by interpreting imagery into impressive patterns in her paper-cutting techniques. 


We invite you to make the connections between teacher and student and amongst the artists in this group. The connections may be visible in bright or muted color palettes, line quality, figurative elements, material, or theme. Or, the connections may be more subtle and yet to be discovered. The discovery process is something that the artists in this exhibition encourage. It is something they witness every time they teach. And one of the more important aspects of teaching art is that the discovery process spills over to the other parts of life, outside of the classroom.