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The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Art professor sculpts a new future

Her father marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Her mother stood for civil rights. And she marched with Cesar Chavez in 1966.

Lisa Reinertson’s passion for the civil rights her parents valued influences her exceptional art which will reflect during her semester of teaching at DVC this spring.

At 11-years-old, Reinertson participated in the 1965 march led by Cesar Chavez from Delano to Sacramento. Her mother and her best friend were at a Democratic meeting when someone asked them whether anyone could provide housing for the marchers in Sacramento once they arrived. Reinertson said her mother and her best friend were involved in “civil rights and bluegrass” so they began organizing places for the 2,000 people to stay. Reinertson described the event as a “biblical story.” Girl Scouts provided cookies and others provided other necessities such as meat and housing. After Reinertson marched up Highway 99 and stood on the stage with Chavez she remembers him as a “soft-spoken, humble person” who is etched in her memory. Reinertson feels strongly about the local story and sculpted Chavez in 2001 for the city of Sacramento. She said, “Not every sculpture is as deeply meaningful to me as Chavez.”

Reinertson incorporates her education into her sculpture as well as her passion. She began taking art classes in high school which focused more on drawing and painting. She then studied her art further at CSU Sacramento, graduating with a B.A. and then choosing to take a short break to be married and have her first child. Reinertson returned to her schooling at age 24 to UC Davis where she focused on figurative sculpture. A year after she finished her graduate work, UC Davis became the location of her first commission.

At first, Reinerston was not interested in public art; however, after her idea for a sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. was chosen for the commissioned piece at UC Davis and she completed it, she realized she enjoyed sculpting for the people. She said she wanted a sculpture, “in a public place to speak to the people.”

Creating the King piece excited her as she thought of her dad and how strongly he supported that man and his movement. When she sat down to conceptualize, she asked herself “How would he [M.L. King Jr.] want to be portrayed?” She answered herself with “the values he fought for.”

Her sculpture is a narrative of those values and a history of the civil rights King stood to uphold and move forward. Civil rights leaders such as Ghandi and Rosa Parks are sculpted on the robe to pay homage to their efforts. Michael W. Panhorst PhD describes her work of King as a “…phenomenal portrait of a man and a movement [that] is among the finest memorial sculptures produced in recent years.”

Her expertise and talent is recognized in more places than Northern California. Reinertson’s work can also be found in Southern California, Michigan, and Guam.

Reinertson dubs her education “Californian.” simply meaning it is different than the realistic sculpture she does now. When I asked her about her own teaching style she told me that for her DVC classes next semester she wishes to introduce a new technical way to work to the students. She said she does not teach by saying, “‘Copy me’ and ‘Do what I say’” but rather employs, “creative problem-solving.” Students can expect to be challenged while listening to classical guitar, a favorite studio sound of Reinertson’s.

An exhibition of ceramic works at the Pence Gallery in Davis this upcoming spring will be exclusively Reinertson’s which will focus on endangered animals. Her interest in humans’ connection with nature appears in a large portion of her work as well. As the interview with Reinertson was coming to a close, she was asked, “what was next, any projects?” She laughed and answered, “Always. I’m always working on a project.”

Reinertson proves to be an inspiration to her fellow sculptors, whether they be peers or students. When Reinertson substituted for a sculpture class at DVC this fall, a former student of hers that attended her presentation and introduced her, praised her, saying she is “a world-class sculpture artist. She is in my estimation, terrific.” Mark Messenger, a teacher of ceramics and sculpture for 25 years, described her as a “modern day Rodin, one of the best figurative sculptors in the country.”

Reinertson currently teaches ceramics sculpture at the San Francisco Art Institute.

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Art professor sculpts a new future