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November 2015

Santa Clara University’s de Saisset Museum Reflects on the Gold Standard

The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University will present Gold Rush, on view from January 15 through March 13, 2016.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., November 9, 2015 —The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University will present Gold Rush, on view from January 15 through March 13, 2016.

This curated group exhibition showcases timeless themes of California history with contemporary art. The selected works focus on the symbolism of gold as well as its historical context within the region. Gold Rush explores how value is defined and projected, and encourages reflection on the many effects of greed, hope, and aspiration.

Vanderlei Lopes, Enxurrada, (Flood), 2015, Polished Bronze, 28" x 51" x 8" 

Selected works include sculpture and paintings from young contemporary artists Sarah Smith, Monica Lundy, and Ry Rocklen. Some artists in the exhibition use their work to comment on topics such as the historical transition of California from a new state in the Union to the political, global, and economic power that it is today. The exhibition not only showcases gold as a symbol of triumph and reward, but also highlights it as a tool for racism in the context of ever-shifting economic powers. Some of the works look at the effects of the global migration of early California, which, today, continues to be an integral and vital part of the State.


Monica Lundy, Ladies of the Barbary Coast, 2014, 22kt. gold, 16kt. gold, 11kt. gold, white gold, pulverized charcoal, mica flake, coffee, gouache, acrylic medium on Arches paper, 61" x 82"

A site specific work by Jonathan Fung, Coolie, examines the atrocity of forced labor that was prevalent during the explosion of the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s in California. The installations of sewing machines are wound with gold thread representing the greed and desire to become rich at any expense. Red silk fabric, the color of blood, cascades from each sewing machine emphasizing the innocent blood shed of “Coolie” laborers. Coolie was a derogatory term used for unskilled Asian workers who were deceived through broken promises and who were manipulated and enslaved to work in sweatshops, on railroads, and in prostitution.

The explorations of gold created by the artists in this exhibition encourage viewers to reconsider its place in our society, especially in light of its transformative role in California’s history. This show is strategically programmed to coincide with Super Bowl 50, hosted by the City of Santa Clara in February 2016. The 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, an anniversary traditionally associated with gold, provides an opportune moment to explore difficult dialog with gold in the context of California’s past and present.

 Vanderlie Lopes, Ralo (drain), 2015, Polish Bronze, 43" x 11" x 1/2"

An opening reception will be held on Thursday, January 21 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. with special performances by the SCU Music and the Dance Department.

Gold Rush is accompanied by a public program focused on issues of human trafficking on Jan. 27 and 28. The exhibition concludes with Art of Gold, a special ticketed event, on Saturday, March 5, 2016.

About the de Saisset Museum
The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University is the South Bay’s free museum of art and history. The museum was founded adjacent to the Mission Santa Clara de Asís on the Santa Clara University campus in 1955 and is one of only three museums in the South Bay accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The de Saisset Museum supports Santa Clara University’s goal of educating the whole person through a diverse and accessible range of exhibitions, collections, and educational programs that highlight the art and history of the San Francisco Bay Area. As a center for lifelong learning, the de Saisset facilitates discovery, experience, and inspiration through engaging objects of art and history.


About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see



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