By Natalia Bogdanov
Rise to Resilience by artist Lauren Van Duren, a former City College instructor, ran from January 13th through February 4th at City College’s Sunset Center, explored themes of anxiety and perseverance in the face of volatile change at the college and in the world.
For this specific exhibit, Lauren pulled her inspirations from a wide range of things and her varied materials remained somewhat implausible. “I love to push a material beyond what it was intended for,” Van Duren said.
The “resilience” in Rise to Resilience is exemplified in the materials she bends and manipulates. As she works, molds, and bends these materials there is an uncertainty within how the outcome will surface.
“Using a sewing machine as a drawing tool and inspiration from an antiquated medical textbook, I create bodies of vinyl that are filled with glycerin soap,” Van Duren said. “Once the soap is poured into the forms, it can be twisted and pinched into positions that appear to be under pressure and flowing in a deceptive liquid state.”
Dealing with the uncertainty in her artwork aids her in dealing with feelings of anxiety when it comes to this rapid and unpredictable world.
Van Duren was born in Pittsburgh, PA and she completed her Bachelor of Arts with a Focus on Drawing at Carnegie Mellon University. “I started drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil. I drew on anything and with any tool I could get my hands on,” Van Duren said. “Drawing became a place I could escape to and have a positive identity, so it was a natural progression for me to embrace the arts.”
Van Duren finished her schooling with a Masters Degree in Sculpture at San Francisco State University in 2017 and began teaching classes at City College in the Fall term of 2018. She taught Beginning Drawing and two semesters of Sculpture. Both of her classes were cut this current semester, Spring 2020.
The Beginning Drawing course was completely full “so it was not done because of low enrollment as Rocha claimed,” Van Duren said. “Many of the classes were ruthlessly cut even after the schedule was printed, which did not give teachers like me a chance to find other positions.”
She further explained that with the financial reduction along with losing her other teaching job at Diablo Valley College, “because a prior faculty member returned and he had seniority over my class.,” she would have to leave the Bay Area to find a full time teaching position.
“Being an adjunct professor is a fairly unstable job,” Van Duren said.
Besides this, Van Duren loves teaching and her students and stated that teaching brings her such a unique sense of joy.
Not only did the class cuts affect teachers like Van Duren, it also has a massive impact on the students. Van Duren explained that most of her students had such a hard time attempting to rearrange their work schedules and other priorities with the limited classes. Some students debated—and some followed through with—quitting school all together. This is because there are so few resources currently available at City College now.