The Global Arts Initiative features the work of outstanding contemporary artists who are committed to social, cultural, and political engagement. The initiative celebrates art's capacity for social change, connecting our community to artists who provide a firsthand perspective on the global issues of our times.
Each year visitors are invited to view the art of the Global Artist of Distinction at the Vita Art Center. First hand connections are made with artist talks and projects with our many community partners including organizations, schools, and colleges. While in Ventura the artist is commissioned by the GAI to create a public art piece we gift to the city of Ventura.
Founding Directors: Sue Pollack and Mary Perez
Sponsored by Buena Tile + Stone and other generous tax deductible donations.
SONG BYEOK, North Korea
2018 Global Artist
Former North Korean propaganda artist Song Byeok, recipient of Ventura's 2018 Global Artist of distinction, escaped his home country in 2002 after enduring brutal torture at the hands of the regime he once worked for, he is now dedicated to promoting freedom through his art that satirize oppressive regimes world-wide. Song went from a propaganda painter for the regime to a political prisoner to, now, a dissident artist. He now resides in Seoul, South Korea and Frankfurt, Germany, where he makes art everyday.
SHAMSIA HASSANI, Afghanistan
2017 Global Artist
Shamsia Hassani, one of Afghanistan's first female street artists, makes vibrant murals and paintings depicting women as strong, independent figures. The women often carry and/or play musical instruments, which provide them with a voice, a vehicle for self-expression. Women wear the burqa, which Westerners often assume is a form of oppression, but in Hassanis work the transparent fabric reveals the strength and humanity of the woman beneath, despite her covering. She's attempting to point out that choosing to wear the burqa or hijab is not the issue; women will not truly be free until they can speak for themselves and be heard. Hassani aims to destigmatize the misperceptions of Muslim women by illustrating that removing the headscarf is not the same as liberating women. Shamsia’s art can be found on exhibit at Ventura’s City Hall as a part of the Municipal Collection.
ROLANDO SIGÜENZA, Oaxaca, Mexico
2016 Global Artist
Born in Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico on July 17th, 1972 Rolando lost his hearing when only seven months old due to a medicine prescribed by a local doctor, such an unfortunate event changed his way and approach to a world surrounded by sound and nowadays urban noise. Inspired by the necessity of communication and relate to others, his parents decided to move and put him in a school for the hearing impaired in Mexico City, there he learned to use his voice. "For me painting is the way to write stories, to express experiences and capture fantasies. My characters have emerged from the observation of life from the villages in the State of Oaxaca, same as for its cultural diversity and long history. Everyday I see the bustle of festivals and markets, also I delight in the contemplation of the paintings, sculptures and carvings of the temples, especially those related to angels, characters that are often present in my dreams. The brush is a instrument to convert the imaginary to reality, something tangible that becomes color, light, and life. " MSC. Rolando Sigüenza. Bell Arts Factory and the City of Ventura worked with Rolando to paint a large-scale mural in the month of September as a gift to Ventura’s Westside. Rolando worked with local artists MB Hanrahan and Uriel Leon on the mural.
PEDRO PULIDO, Cuba
2015 Global Artist
Havana to Ventura, Mural Project
Pedro Pulido is a prominent Cuban multidisciplinary artist, a sculptor and educator who has work all over the world. Pulido teaches art at San Alejandro and he started Cintio Vitier 20 years ago. This is a sociocultural project that he runs from his house in la Habana, where he shares his knowledge with children and youth. He is a visionary, and a great leader.in his community with a big heart.
Once Pedro and his translator Victor arrived in Ventura, the next two weeks were spent working with MB and volunteers to create a mural.
Havana to Ventura Mural Project
Location: 50 W. Main St. Ventura, CA
The “Havana to Ventura” mural project was the first time that an American and Cuban artist worked together on a permanent mural after President Obama and President Raul Castro opened communication between the United States and Cuba. The mural was a collaboration with Pedro Pulido, MB Hanrahan, community volunteers, and Teens from the Vita Art Center. The design reflects the styles of both community painters, and contains elements shared by both Ventura and Cuban culture-dancing, music, car culture, the ocean and nature. Our local Ventura Muralist MB Hanrahan communicated to Pedro Pulido through a Cuban translator Victor Pina Tabio for 6 months to determine the design concept.