The Man Behind the Uniform

ASI holds art show highlighting Long Beach's veteran and LGBTQ+ communities

Words and photo by Lexi Stroud Contributor

A student gazing at a photo art gallery in the USU.
Shayla Raya, 21, fashion merchandising major, looks at the gallery installments.

Conscious Collection was held on Thursday, Nov. 30 by ASI in the University Student Union Art Gallery. It featured live music, visual art and spoken word performances created by and for veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, international students and members of Wellness Affairs. Admission was free to all students and free drinks and snacks were provided.

“This event was made as a valiant effort by student government to start a conversation on our campus,” said Gus Orasco, Veteran’s Affairs Commissioner for Long Beach State University and the city of Long Beach. “We felt it was important to bring these conversations about veterans and LGBTQ+ to light, especially in troubling times.”

Each art installment covered a different view on veteran and LGBTQ+ communities. All artwork was submitted by students and was accompanied with descriptions of the inspiration behind the art. The collection featured various mediums—paintings, drawing and photographs.

Britny Coker-Moen, 27, a journalism and public relations major, had her art featured in the show.

“I used to be an art major and I love to take any creative opportunity I can,” said Coker-Moen.

Coker-Moen’s art piece featured Gus Orasco and his many sides as a veteran, student and punk rocker through images of him in different hats and locations.  

“It’s been awhile since I’ve presented something creative like this, so there are definitely some nerves,” said Coker-Moen.

Other students took note of Coker-Moen’s piece. Shayla Raya, 21-year-old fashion merchandising major, attended the event without knowing her classmate was going to be featured in the artwork.  

“I have class with Gus, and I never would have guessed these other sides of him,” said Raya on Coker-Moen’s artwork. “He usually dresses very punk rock and I had no clue he was a veteran.”

District 3 City Councilwoman and Long Beach State alumnus Suzie Price was also in attendance.

“I’m so grateful to walk around and look at the work,” said Price in her opening remarks. “It’s all very beautiful and it speaks to something that all of us in the room have felt.”