Category Archives: Words from Wildcats

Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve: ‘Where Education Meets the Land’

By Zachary Phillips; photographs by Ernesto Rivera, editorial assistants—Public Affairs and Publications

Perspective Point overlooks the entirety of the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve.
Perspective Point overlooks the entirety of the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve.

By 10 a.m. on July 1what was supposed to be one of Chico’s hottest summer days —most people are shacked up inside an air-conditioned building or waist-deep in One Mile. Either of those seem like a distant reality, however, from where we’re standing—17 miles east of town in a workshop overlooking miles of creek and canyon, seconds away from sniffing an uncapped bottle of mountain lion urine. Continue reading Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve: ‘Where Education Meets the Land’

MFA Photography Alum Finds Beauty in the Ordinary

By Ernesto Rivera, Editorial Assistant—Public Affairs and Publications

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A photo from “Out of the Ordinary,” a series that comments on the spaces people occupy.

When Adria Davis was in high school, her uncle, a professional sports photographer, took her on assignment to the Women’s World Cup in Los Angeles in 1999. It was that moment, photographing superstar strikers like Mia Hamm, she told herself, “this is what I want to do.”

Years later, she joined the three-year masters of fine art program with a focus in photography at CSU, Chico. Davis was grateful to be able to completely focus and develop her art for three years, an opportunity she knows she may never have again.

A studio selfie of Davis.
A studio selfie of Davis.

“It was the first time in my entire academic career that I truly felt challenged,” she said. “You make art and it forces you to really think about why you’re making it or what’s the concept that you’re working with. It really develops your ideas.”

Davis, who graduated in the spring and also has a BA in art from CSU, Chico, spent much of the three years in the program developing her culminating exhibition, “Out of the Ordinary.”

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Davis’ series premiered at the University Art Gallery on March 23.

For her exhibit, Davis filled up her gas tank and drove all around Butte County to tell the stories of people’s homes and the spaces they occupy. Although no one appears in the series, the photographs are all about people and their personalities shown through their homes.

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“My photographic practice is reminiscent of when I was a child, looking out the backseat window, while my parents discussed different stucco choices, paint colors and architectural styles of homes,” Davis wrote in her artist’s statement. “These photographs are direct responses to my environment. I am fascinated by the interplay of where public space meets private space. At that point, you begin to see how these places become portraits of the people who inhabit them.”

While Davis’ influences such as Walker Evans, Robert Adams and Henry Wessel are prevalent in “Out of the Ordinary,” she also found guidance in photography professor Tom Patton, who guided her throughout MFA program and culminating exhibition with critiques and honest questions.

“I appreciated his guidance because it distanced me from it being a personal experience,” she said. “Instead of it being an emotional experience of me presenting my personal work, he would help me develop the idea and really asked me ‘why are you doing this?'”

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Every photo from “Out of the Ordinary” was taken in Butte County.

The guidance Patton gave her wasn’t just with her photography, he was instrumental in guiding Davis when she was  brought into the department to teach film and digital photography classes while she finished her degree, a unique opportunity for MFA students. While Davis loved teaching digital photography because of  the what-seems-endless options digital provides, Davis admires film photography because of its magic and history.

“It’s one thing to print off your piece from a printer but it’s so different when you’re in the darkroom and the very first time you print and see your image develop right in front of you is so amazing,” she said.

To view more of Davis’ photos, visit http://www.adriadavis.com/

Emmy Award-Winning Alum Talks Filmmaking, Storytelling, Bending Rules

By Zachary Phillips, Editorial Assistant—Public Affairs and Publications

Photo courtesy: Dan Bruns

Matt Ritenour started working with California State University, Chico’s Advanced Laboratory for Visual Anthropology (ALVA) as a student in 2012. Since graduating in 2013, he has continued working with the lab, filming and editing documentaries that cover a wide array of topics. His most recent project—and his first as a director—is Impact of the Frolic, which won a Northern California-area Emmy Award on June 6, 2015. The documentary is a work of both auditory and visual storytelling, taking viewers through forests, over oceans, and across continents. It retraces archaeologist Thomas Layton’s discovery and research of an opium clipper that wrecked off the shores of Mendocino, California, in 1850, creating global connections that would change California forever. Continue reading Emmy Award-Winning Alum Talks Filmmaking, Storytelling, Bending Rules

La Dolce Vita: Living, Learning, and Eating in Italy

By Quinn Western, senior journalism major

I’m a senior journalism student spending my last semester at Chico State in Viterbo, Italy. It’s a small, medieval town where few of the community members speak English and finding avocados is a struggle. The city center where I live, is enclosed by towering stone walls. My apartment building is thousands of years old (which explains why I have to pile on the blankets at night) and is said to have housed cardinals. Viterbo (about a two-hour train ride from Rome) was once an official home for the Pope as well. Continue reading La Dolce Vita: Living, Learning, and Eating in Italy

Tearing Down Walls

By Jeff Barron, social media and photography intern

What does it mean to study computer science at Chico State? Jennifer Decker explains that it goes far beyond math and programming—at heart, computer science is about using technology to solve problems.

Decker, a junior, is also the president of Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE), the computer science honor society, which offers TA and volunteer work for the computer science department. She has worked for major tech companies such as Hewlett Packard and Cyan Inc. We asked her to give us some insight on her experiences in the major:

Continue reading Tearing Down Walls

A Mission to Advocate

By Taylor Herren, graduate student, Associated Students President

As a grad student at Chico State and serving my second term as Associated Students (AS) president, it may seem that I have my plate full. But as a matter of fact, I couldn’t be any more grateful to be in a position to serve my peers and providing a voice for the student body is really what keeps me going.

Chico State is a big part of me, and my education here has been instrumental in my growth to becoming a student leader. Continue reading A Mission to Advocate