Art shows seniors' pandemic escapes

Cal Lutheran exhibit explores outlets for isolation

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"Escapism" includes "Rohan" by Jiarong Bi, who drew inspiration from music, film and expressionism for her paintings and sketches.

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — March 31, 2021) The pandemic prompted California Lutheran University’s graduating art majors to delve deeper into their creative sides, and the results will be on display in a virtual exhibit opening April 12.

“Escapism,” which explores the outlets the students sought to escape their isolation under the pandemic, will run through Sept. 30. The featured students will discuss and answer questions about their work during a webinar at 2 p.m. Friday, April 23. 

The art reflects the students’ pandemic lives and the reprieves they sought. 

“I found myself turning to movies, books and tabletop games to transport to other worlds during a time where I hardly even left my house,” said mixed-media artist Lauren Graf of Carpinteria. “I realized just how much these stories were sustaining me and helping me cope with everything going on. I then started making art to dive deeper into these stories I cherished, drawing my favorite characters from Shakespeare or creating imaginary book covers to use my art as a tool of escapism.”

Inspired by sci-fi and fantasy, Nicholas Hayes of Los Angeles combined elements of beauty and horror in his sculptures, looking for interesting ways to abstract the human form and breathe life into the bizarre beings of his imagination.

Jasmine Alexandra O. of Thousand Oaks explored imaginative realism in her multimedia pieces, striving to create a world populated by people and animals in which the impossible exists, from magic to beautiful long-lost cities.

Often starting with a photo from her camera roll, Nicole Ishii of Hawaii created mixed media works that framed memories of love and happiness in ways that authentically represent Hawaiian culture and people.

Jiarong Bi of Oak Park drew inspiration from music, film and expressionism for her paintings and sketches.

“Making art was honestly a true escape from experiencing the pandemic and really helped me to not only hone in on something to pass the time but make it enjoyable and therapeutic,” Bi said. “During such a confusing and uncertain time, art was the one constant that really reassured me and helped me get through life and school.” 

Cal Lutheran’s Art Department and Rolland Gallery are sponsoring the free exhibit, which can be found at To attend the April 23 Artist Talks, go to

For more information, contact curator Rachel Schmid at or 805-493-3697 or