murals painted by alumni in duke hallway

As I walked through the Duke and Darling buildings on West Campus on my way to a class last semester, an interesting sight stopped me in my tracks. Across the typically blank walls were multiple images I had never seen before—vibrant depictions of outer space, ancient Greece, and the ocean to name a few. Beside each picture was a QR code containing the link to a unique song that stirred the artist, Riley Sumaquial’s ’24, vision. I appreciate gleaning insight from Sumquial’s immensely talented synesthetic mind.

Art requires slowness, a pause in the rapidly moving nature of our days packed to the brim with to-do lists and places to be. Appreciating art, especially that of the students we interact with every single day, is vital to deepening our connections with each other and uplifting the talents God has gifted us with. 

While art galleries at Azusa Pacific University are installed at different times throughout each semester, students are bound to witness an eye-catching, riveting display in at least one of the five exhibition locations on West Campus: Duke Gallery, Heritage Gallery, Darling Gallery, EXIT gallery, l Gallery and the Alumni Art Hallway. Stephen Childs, MFA, exhibitions director, carries a devout passion for teaching students about the many steps it takes to curate an exhibition through his gallery design class. “We go on many field trips to art galleries and museums around Los Angeles so students can capture the similarities and differences between each one,” he said. 

Seniors earning a BFA in Art, and who have taken the required courses, produce a senior show through the Exhibition Capstone class, however, all students are welcome to submit a show proposal by fulfilling prerequisites. Curators get to experience what it’s like to make creative decisions, from the accepted pieces of art, to the placement and lighting, and deinstallation. “My hope through the gallery design class and experience is that BFA students feel prepared for their solo senior show, which is a unique aspect about being at APU,” Childs said. “Universities rarely allow senior art students to have a gallery to themselves—solo exhibitions.” 

As for the theme of each senior show, like many of the decisions that go into curation, the choice is up to the student curators. “The goal is for students to develop their style and interest in whichever medium they’re most drawn to, along with deciphering what they hope to convey with the artwork they choose,” Childs added. Some semesters there is an open call, depending on whether spaces are available. Students can find submission information for this through posters on campus, the Department of Art email newsletter, and @art_apu on instagram. 

Along with the beautiful student artwork on display, many of the galleries on campus showcase LA artists. “We feature local artists to allow students to have an intimate connection with them,” Childs said. For example, David Flores, a prominent street artist, painted the Shakespeare mural outside the Black Box Theater on West Campus, and featured his exhibition in the Duke Gallery. Similarly, the Department of Art often invites alumni to contribute to the murals in the Duke Hallway. Childs has even more hopes and aspirations for future projects, dependent on funding to allow more students’ dreams to come to life. If interested in donating, here is APU’s giving page where you can select to designate your gift to the Department of Art.

Art draws community together. Whether you submit original artwork to an open call, or compliment an artist on their magnificent work, appreciating art is vital to making others feel seen. The next time you’re on your way to class or strolling through West Campus with friends, take a look around, and get lost in the beauty of our talented artists’ minds.