New Kinships: Community Dialogues and Interdisciplinary Connections presents two distinct, yet interrelated projects: Wish You Were Here, which features multidisciplinary contributions of visual and text based work focused on placemaking, and Community Table, which utilizes printmaking and design to consider food insecurity in San José. With guidance and mentorship of faculty and staff members in Art, Design, English, Urban Studies, and Nutrition, for over a year students have been engaged in thoughtful exploration of concerns that are currently central in the lives of the San José community: the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing shelter in place orders, food insecurity, climate change and sustainability, cultural history, and intergenerational connection.

Wish You Were Here began in Fall 2020, emerging out of discussions between the Thompson Gallery and faculty in Art, Design, and English as a way to meaningfully connect themes from the San José Story Map Project through the production of small-scale “correspondence art.” Students from across disciplines were invited to attend a series of workshops that presented techniques that could be utilized to translate personal experiences of living, learning, and working in San José into visual form via a postcard format.  The produced postcards were entered into a competition which was later repeated in Spring 2021. Of the submissions, fifteen winners were selected for their creativity, visual aesthetics, and capability to address one or more of the key project themes: Sheltering in Place, Sustainability, Cultural History, Generational Connectivity, and Transformation. Winning submissions have been printed for distribution in the gallery exhibition and beyond and all submissions to the project are featured in the current exhibit. Under the mentorship of Design Professor Kohar Scott, students designed, prototyped and helped in the construction of an innovative, sustainable and environmentally conscious display and distribution kiosk which is featured in the Thompson Gallery.

Equally focused on sustainability, placemaking, and intergenerational connection, Community Table utilizes art and design to consider the availability of fresh and diverse food on the SJSU campus, foster a better understanding of food needs of SJSU students, and create resources for students and community members. It runs parallel to Taste of Home, a project by community partner Chopsticks Alley Art and Cynthia Cao, Creative Ambassador for the Office of Cultural Affairs, City of San José, which engaged San José communities in printmaking workshops to share food stories and inspire change in future food donations. Community Table builds bridges across disciplines and connects students in the art, design, and nutrition departments through curricula, visiting artist lectures, student presentations, and hands-on workshops. 

Through Community Table, participating faculty and students have worked to create creative art and design based solutions for more culturally diverse and enjoyable ways to access and utilize available on campus food resources. Students have had the invaluable experience of using art and design as tools of social change as they move forward as arts professionals operating in a civic sphere. 

Each of these innovative projects involved multidisciplinary groups of San José State faculty and staff who engaged students across the disciplines in hands-on projects of collaboration, placemaking, and innovation. Generative workshops hosted by SJSU faculty and invited speakers encouraged students to think about new materials and processes, to map physical and virtual spaces, create works of art using novel processes and materials, and utilize groundbreaking design strategies to reach community goals. Most importantly, both projects created spaces of shared conversation and collaboration: brainstorming beyond the bounds of discipline to consider how we can work together to sustain a university, a city, and beyond through meaningful thought, speech and action, in deep engagement with the community's needs and a desire to create change.

The resulting exhibition, New Kinships: Community Dialogues and Interdisciplinary Connections, presents work by SJSU students, alumni, and community members, and highlights the creativity and innovation that define our university across the disciplines. Moreover, the exhibition showcases new pairings and partnerships, such as those between printmaking and food science, design and poetry, photography and urban studies. Created through new modes of  engagement, conversation, and connection imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, the works showcased in this exhibition demonstrate the infinite possibilities for community growth and social change that can arise when creativity is encouraged and disciplinary lines are crossed. 

Alena Sauzade

Gallery Director and University Art Collection Manager


In-person celebration

Thursday, November 4, 2021 | 5 - 7:30pm

SJSU Art Building Room 127


Exhibition Dates

November 2, 2021 - January 28, 2022

Open by appointment only. Please email to schedule a visit.

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