Lunchable: Art as a Guardian Spirit of Protection at Design Museum


Lunchable is a feature of the UC Davis Arts Blog that recommends art exhibitions or other attractions that can be viewed during a short lunch break or other short periods of leisure time. 

During times of global uncertainty and distress in our personal lives, it is often difficult to look beyond the grim place we find ourselves in and view the world in a positive light. We tend to feel alone, broken and defeated. By recognizing and understanding these feelings of loss and hopelessness, Ann Savageau, professor emeritus of design at UC Davis, has sought to remind us of our resilience through her art. 

Guardians: Spirits of Protection” is an exhibit that explores the deep relationship between examining the pieces of one’s personal and communal tragedies to restore love, positivity and unity within our lives. Tim McNeil, professor of design and director of the Design Museum, curated the exhibition.  

The exhibition is located at the UC Davis’s Design Museum in Cruess Hall, room 124. It will be on display through March 24, and is open from noon to 4 p.m. Entry is free to the general public. It might make a nice visit on Picnic Day or anytime that weekend. There is a related exhibit in the arboretum too. Read about that here. Check the website for other information.

Art from seemingly useless objects

The art installation features 10 different sculptures or guardians. The sculptures represent guardian spirits of protection.  All guardians were created from industrial detritus, flotsam and jetsam coming from unknown places that washed up on the shores of Northern California beaches. Savageau took desolate and seemingly useless objects and created intricate sculptures. The process of taking discarded objects and giving them new purposes through art speaks to the exhibit’s messages of hope and rebirth amongst the chaos of life. 

Savageau first created the exhibition as a response to tragic events in her personal life. She states: “Creating this work helped me cope with my losses and grief. The meditative, incantatory process of building these figures enabled me to direct feelings of grief and loss to a more positive action.” 

“Guardians: Spirits of Protection” was also created as a response to the struggles people all over the world face. “On a larger scale, Guardians is about creating protection from the many threats the entire planet faces,” says Savageau, “All of us are facing unprecedented loss and threats, including climate change, species extinction, resource depletion, population displacement, political turmoil and economic and racial injustice. We are feeling vulnerable and under attack on many fronts.” 

Savageau’s goal is that people will find inspiration and hope by looking at the guardians. “Guardians: Spirits of Protection” is a reminder to everyone that in the face of adversity we have the ability to salvage our broken pieces and build up ourselves and lives for a better tomorrow.

You can find the Design Museum here


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