Photo by Olivia Irvin.

Photo by Olivia Irvin.

Along with its permanent rooftop sculpture exhibit and other modern art pieces, the Museum of Art and History (MAH) at the McPherson Center is currently offering a space for UC Santa Cruz students to display their work in an upcoming presentation by the Digital Arts and New Media Master of Fine Arts degree program (DANM MFA). 

DANM will present the work of 10 graduate students in a two-part exhibition. The first part, called “interACTIVE,” runs through June 24, while the second, called “interACTIVATE,” will open May 29.

“We were lucky to be invited to show the work of our DANM graduates at the MAH,” said Felicia Rice, media representative for the DANM project. “This is our fourth graduating cohort, and we have previously shown at the Digital Media Factory on the Westside and … a huge digital arts festival in downtown San Jose.”

The pieces are created with digital and new media technologies, creating new sights for museum visitors not familiar with art media.

Nada Miljkovic, who is completing her final quarter in the two-year DANM master’s program, will have work showing in both parts of the interactive exhibition. For interACTIVE, she will be presenting a Balkan folk song about the emotion and pain of arranged marriages in the style of sevdah, a traditional Bosnian musical form.

“Coming from the Balkans, my own family is full of forced marriages,” said Miljkovic, who was born in the former Yugoslavia. “I chose to do this piece in hopes that through the experience of the endurance piece some liberation may occur both for myself and the participating audience.”

For interACTIVATE, Miljkovic produced a short film on forced marriage — “Eva on Marriage” — that she also submitted to the Santa Cruz Film Festival at the Del Mar Theatre.

“It’s a real honor to bring this very specific music tradition, that some may categorize as folk music, into a institution of high art,” Miljkovic said. “My aim is to educate and entertain.”

Providing UCSC and Cabrillo artists a venue to display their work has allowed the MAH to promote art in the community. The museum currently holds the one-of-a-kind artwork of various regional, local and college artists from Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, as well as the greater Bay Area. 

One of the current exhibits is showcasing the work of Bay Area artist Jerry Ross Barrish, whose medium of choice is reconfigured and recycled plastic sculptures.

The MAH is doing well despite financial troubles statewide. Membership fees and donations by visitors fund exhibits and new attractions, which in turn draw more total visitors.

“We’re aware that people are struggling in the community,” said Theresa Myers, the public relations and marketing manager of MAH.

Myers said that she does not anticipate an increase in the price of admission in the near future.

The MAH, which does not receive money from the state or county, receives funding solely from community-based grants. The majority of the museum’s funding comes from membership fees and the annual Stars fundraiser gala and auction. The auction, held every year in December at the museum, sells work donated by local artists. 

The MAH museum holds permanent and touring exhibits of regional artists, along with the rooftop sculpture exhibit. Many of the exhibits are composed of contemporary artworks and historical pieces owned by the museum. Throughout the museum’s three stories and rooftop, dresses constructed of Bubblicious gum wrappers are displayed next to old photographs of Santa Cruz residents at the wharf.

“By offering a place to hold the various artifacts,” Myers said, “the community is still able to interact.”