Two UCSD Artists Featured in “25 and Under” Art Showcase at MCASD

Photos courtesy of Wendy Rodriguez (left) and Anika Ullah (right).

Two UC San Diego artists and graduating seniors, Wendy Rodriguez and Anika Ullah, were both featured in the annual “25 and Under” Art Showcase at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego (MCASD). Out of 25 finalists, Wendy took home the Curator’s Choice First Place award for her short animation “Photographs,” while Anika exhibited her documentary film “Impacts of the Border: Air Quality and Health in San Ysidro, CA.”

This is the seventh year of the contest and the 11th year of the museum’s sponsorship by the Qualcomm Foundation, which gives all visitors ages 25 years and younger free admission to the museum. Each year, out of a large pool of submissions, a panel of judges chooses 25 entries for the showcase. The theme this year was “Untold Stories,” which was left open to interpretation for each artist. Finalists’ works were on display May 24 through June 3, with the awards reception held on the afternoon of the last day of the showcase.

Like in previous years, there were four awards given out: First Place and Honorable Mention for Curator’s Choice, and First Place and Honorable Mention for People’s Choice. The Curator’s Choice awards are selected by a MCASD curator, while the People’s Choice awards are based on Facebook “likes” on the MCASD page and votes on site at the showcase. All winners receive a gift certificate to Blick Art Materials and a year-long MCASD membership, but the Curator’s Choice First Place winner also receives a curator-led tour of an exhibition of their choice.

The Triton was able to sit down with both artists to discuss their submissions for the “25 and Under” contest.

“Photographs” by Wendy Rodriguez

“There’s something about a moving picture…animation is different from film, where there’s a disconnect. Animating is you and your hand and what you’re drawing,” says Wendy Rodriguez.

A screen still of "Photographs," an award-winning animation by Wendy Rodriguez.

A screen still of “Photographs,” an award-winning animation by Wendy Rodriguez.

Her award-winning work “Photographs” actually began as a class project. Wendy was inspired by a physical book of “photographs” she possesses, which includes several hand-drawn moments of her life. She decided to animate three selected moments: one with her friend Cameron, who she says helped her “become more of [herself] through knowing him;” a memory of her grandma, who “loves [Wendy] more than anyone;” and lastly, one of her best friend Austin, who moved from San Diego back to Texas last year.

“You can only experience moments once, but you can go back and remember it,” Wendy says about “Photographs.

“Impacts of the Border” by Anika Ullah

Anika Ullah describes herself as a “multimedia artist.” Her submission to “25 and Under,” a 20-minute film titled “Impacts of the Border,” was actually her first time creating a documentary. The film details how security enforcement in the town of San Ysidro, California, which lies immediately north of the U.S.-Mexico border, has contributed to mounting problems of air pollution and respiratory illness.

When she started learning about how to create a documentary, Anika was equipped with nothing but Google—”the best way to learn is just to do it,” she says—and a resolve that she had to carry the story embedded in San Ysidro out to the world. At the museum exhibit, it was especially heartwarming for her to hear that she was indeed making an impact.

A screen still from "Impacts of the Border," Anika Ullah's documentary submission.

A screen still from “Impacts of the Border,” Anika Ullah’s documentary submission.

“A nine-year-old girl came up to me and said, ‘I really like your film. I liked that it was about a problem in my neighborhood,’” Anika recounts.

For an in-depth profile of each artist, including what influences their broader work and where they are planning to take their art next after graduation, read more about Wendy and Anika.

Isabelle Yan is the Managing Editor of The Triton.