Mutual Drift

Marla Sweitzer and Christian Vargas

January 28 - February 25, 2021

Mutual Drift Installation Views

Ground Matter

Marla Sweitzer, Ground Matter, 52, 2021, oil on ceramic.


Christian Vargas, Frieze of Dog Race, 2020, ceramic. 

Mutual Drift is an anchor back to physical space for those drifting in the virtual. It comprises two solo exhibitions installed in several sites across the usually lively Fresno City College campus, which since March of last year has been quiet and still. Separate in concept, the works are linked by material (clay) and proximity; artists Marla Sweitzer and Christian Vargas share a home and studio, providing mutual, critical support to one another during the pandemic.

The Fresno City College campus is a beautiful and atmospheric place — an open, urban setting with a generous tree canopy, many semi-private courtyards with places for sitting, peach-colored stairwells, and lush greenhouses usually tended by horticulture students. Mutual Drift engages some of these spaces, offering glimpses of artworks to those who find themselves on campus these days — essential staff; faculty who drop in to visit their offices during breaks between online classes; local residents walking their dogs.

Marla Sweitzer’s hand built, oil painted, clay sculptures are deceptively simple. She asks questions with the material that consider engineering problems and the most ephemeral, temporal concerns. What is the slightest curve that a wall can have before it falls over? How does changing light interact with a specific color as it falls across a hand-marked surface? By contrast, Christian Vargas ’vessels, scepters, and busts are embedded with stories, symbols, and biography, deeply influenced by growing up in the Sunnyside area of Fresno and his mothers ’non-hierarchical swap-meet aesthetic. He builds a cosmology in which religious icons, pop culture knick-knacks, and childhood superhero figures are all given equal consideration as objects of value.

Listen to Marla Sweitzer and Christian Vargas discuss their work in this interview from October 2020:

  • Art Space Gallery (view through window)
  • Art Dept. Display cases, ground floor
  • Horticulture gardens and Greenhouse
  • & online.

Works will be installed in the Art Space Gallery; in outward facing display cabinets in the Art and Home Economics building, and in the Horticulture greenhouse and gardens. Here, works will be installed without disturbing the existing order and logic of the spaces created by greenhouse manager Steve DaSilva. Steve is an expert gardener and bonsai practitioner who has collaborated with Art Space Gallery before, with the exhibition The Art of Bonsai (2001). The Fresno City College campus remains closed to visitors, so viewers will experience this exhibition online. This website will be updated with installation images, video tours, and writing about the show.


Christian Vargas (b. 1986, Fresno, CA) received his MFA in studio art from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2018. He received his BA in fine arts from Fresno State University in 2015. Group exhibitions include Clay Today (The Hole NYC) and The Side-Eye, Visions of Periphery (Spring/Break Art Show, NYC). His work has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Marla Sweitzer (b. 1989, Sarasota, FL) received her MFA in studio art from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2020 and her BA in studio art from Centre College in 2011. Solo exhibitions include Fluorescent Gallery, Knoxville, TN; and Divisible, Dayton, OH. Her work has been exhibited in group shows in New York City, Cincinnati and Nashville.