Bittersweet Harvest Smithsonian exhibit on display at Clovis Community College

By Lauren Mueller, Reporter

The visual arts are well supported in the Central Valley. For instance, the monthly Art Hop in Fresno is widely popular. What many people may not know is that there is an Art Hop in Clovis as well, which includes traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian Institute.

The Smithsonian Institute has a traveling exhibits department, with art exhibits that travel all across the United States and the world. Recently, one of these exhibits came to Clovis and is housed at Clovis Community College.

The exhibit explores the Bracero Project that was implemented after World War II, when there was a labor shortage in the United States. The program allowed able-bodied men from Mexico to cross the border and work for farmers.

Through images and explanations in both English and Spanish, the exhibit—called Bittersweet Harvest—explores the impact of the Bracero program on labor in the United States, family dynamics among the men who came over and the cultural makeup of the areas most heavily impacted by the program.

Along with the exhibit’s display, there were computers set up with transcripts and oral histories recorded by the Smithsonian. These oral histories included the testimonies of men who came to the United States and participated in the Bracero program.

Also on display were five paintings by local artist Eliana Soto. Her impressionist-style oil on canvas paintings showcased the Bracero program in a universal way. The paintings were done as part of a final project while she was in college.

“I’ve been painting since high school,” Soto said. “It’s something I really enjoy.”

Soto’s latest work will be on display May 5-29 in Fig Garden in Fresno. The exhibit is called “Beauty in Distress.”

Clovis Community College often hosts traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian Institute. They display in Academic Center 1 in the open lab, and are open to the public.

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