Breast Cancer Awareness and Words from a Cancer Survivor


By Veronica Renaker

According to the CDC breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, and additionally, one in a thousand men will be diagnosed with breast cancer every year.


What is breast cancer?
“Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancerous) if the cells can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.”


Things you may not have known about breast cancer:

Though the exact cause of breast cancer remains unclear, there have been many studies that have shown that women who eat red meat are more at risk for developing breast cancer later in life.

A Harvard study reference: “We found that women who ate the most red meat in adolescence or early adulthood had an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life. One serving a day increment in red meat intake during adolescence was associated with a 22% higher risk of premenopausal breast cancer and each serving per day increment during early adulthood was associated with a 13% higher risk of breast cancer overall. Those who ate more poultry during the same period had a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Of course, red meat is not the only risk factor for breast cancer. And this is an observational study, so we could not say that eating red meat was the only reason these women got cancer. But our analysis took into account most of the known breast cancer risk factors, and we adjusted for smoking, alcohol intake, age, hormone therapy, and oral contraceptive use. Still, red meat was one of the important breast cancer risk factors.”

Other studies have also linked breast cancer with alcohol consumption according to
“Drinking alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Compared with non-drinkers, women who have one alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk.”

When picking your methods of birth control you may want to take into account the amount of hormones used in said contraception. “Women have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer while they’re taking birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin and during the 10 years after they stop taking the pills. Progestin-only pills also increased risk, but not as much Aug 5, 2014”



The CDC’s fast facts:
Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease.
Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. Less than 1% of breast cancers occur in men.
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women.
About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.

Breast cancer symptoms:
Often many do not have any symptoms at all. However, if you notice a change of the shape of your breast or any abnormal lumps or bumps that have developed over time, pain, or discharge from the nipple- See your doctor as soon as possible!

The Story of the Survivor (My Mom)


How do you keep the fear of it coming back under control?

Jean Renaker: “First and foremost, my Christian belief helps a great deal. I also take a lot of comfort from the fact that I take every precaution to be responsible with my health. I don’t drink or smoke- I exercise. I am careful with my red meat intake, and I stay informed. Other than that I don’t waste time worrying about something that I cannot control.”

How long ago were you diagnosed?
Jean Renaker: “Almost 14 years ago. I had been scratched by a rabbit and thought that that was the source of my discomfort. -As did my physician and all the rest of my health care providers because I was young, very healthy, and had no family history of any kind of cancer. I was wrong and so were they.”

What was the hardest part about hearing that diagnosis?

Jean Renaker: “Hearing the diagnosis wasn’t really the hard part, you’re just in shock. The hardest part for me was having very young children that I might not get to see grow up.”
How often do you think about cancer in your daily life?
Jean Renaker: “I think about it as it pertains to other people and their risk. I don’t think about it in personal terms any more, and I have not for a long time. It’s an illness I had. It’s not my identity. The exception to this would be having you tested to see if you have the BRCA1 gene.”

What was your support system?

Jean Renaker: “I read a crazy statistic somewhere that said that 70 percent of husbands leave their wives when they’re diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know if that’s true. I hope that it’s not. It makes me very sad. I was very blessed that your dad was a great source of strength and my oncologist Rabi Patel (Founding Physician of CBCC).”

How were you treated?
“I had a radical mastectomy. My lymph nodes were clear of cancer and my margins were clean- so I optioned not to do chemotherapy because I had two young children and I did not want to compromise my immune system and be laid out flat for six months unless there was still cancer in my body.”

Anything you’d like to add?

“It’s always hard. But it’s not always negative. By that I mean that the sky is bluer for me than it is for many other people. Stupid things don’t seem so earth shattering. To be honest with you, most days I forget that I ever overcame cancer. I’m glad I did.”

MRSA: The Rise of a “SUPER BUG”


By Veronica Renaker

My Experience 

It all began after zoology class when I felt as though something had bitten my hand. Nothing drastic, perhaps just a small ant. Much like any other time I had been bitten, over the course of a couple of hours, a minuscule bump had began to surface. A day went by, and the “bite” felt more sensitive than painful. Taking a closer look at the little, red, angry, mark, I started thinking that perhaps a small hair on my hand was ingrown and irritated. I didn’t pay much attention to it following that thought until my hand started having sharp pains.

Again, I assumed that it would all blow over.
I had a history of bug bites being larger than life in the past, so when the bump on my hand became the size of a dime, I wasn’t too concerned at that point. I had rescued feral kittens from underneath a bush the same day that I had Lytle’s science lab, so I started questioning whether or not this “ant bite” was truly an ant bite.
In Bakersfield, not many spiders are poisonous enough to cause the symptoms that I was having. My mom immediately began giving me antibiotics as a precaution, along with the basic care of Neosporin.
The bump, now a boil, was tomato red and so painful that I was unable to rest my hand without a rush of what I’d describe as nerve pain and throbbing. Things didn’t seem to be getting any better, and actually, were getting quite worse. My family and I started questioning whether or not I had a staph infection.
My mom rushed me to the doctor, and the nurse let out a gasp when I exposed my hand from underneath the bandages. Lincy Maliyekkal, FNP said that without a doubt, it was a pretty nasty staph infection and perhaps even MRSA.

At this point I was a little too familiar with what MRSA was and how significant it could be. I must admit that I spent a little too much time internet surfing on WebMD and reading personal testimonies (all of which were horrifying). I practically was under the impression that I was going to lose my hand which was sounding as though it was a possibility.

Using a scalpel, she took a culture which was a whole ordeal in itself due to the fact that I am absolutely terrified of needles or the thought of anything cutting into me while I’m conscious. I was told that I had to wait a number of days to hear the results.

She gave me a prescription of Bactrim in order to treat MRSA in the mean time and a heavy duty prescription of pain medication. Aside from the two shots that I unwillingly received in my buttocks (definitely not winning the best patient award).
I was fortunate enough to avoid the ER which originally had brought me to tears because they had really wanted to send me there.
After a few days, the boil on my hand was not getting any better, so they had to lance and pack it.
Again, an almost comedic visit to the doctor’s office, full of crying, panicking, and vomiting (my mom due to the great amount of distress I had caused her- as I was crying out for everyone to stop continuing on with the procedure).

Unfortunately and to my dismay,  I was unable to be numbed for this occasion as I had nerve damage- apart from my nerves being “so inflamed that no amount of anesthesia would make it so that I wouldn’t be able to feel what was going on.” Translation: this was going to hurt BADLY. Oh, and boy, did it!

The final results came back some time after, and it turns out that I was positive for MRSA.
Mrs. Maliyekkal went on to inform us that she believed I had been bitten by a black widow that carried MRSA and thus this all transpired.

She also said something very interesting that I’d love to pass on: “Bakersfield/Kern County is number one for community MRSA. It’s not uncommon that I see patients that come with it.”

So what is MRSA? How do you know if you have MRSA? Is it life threatening? How can you prevent MRSA? Who is prone to getting MRSA?


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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus — or staph — because it’s resistant many used antibiotics.

MRSA was first discovered in 1961. It’s now resistant to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and many other common antibiotics. While some antibiotics still work, MRSA is constantly adapting. Researchers developing new antibiotics are having a tough time keeping up.
“MRSA can cause a variety of problems ranging from are skin infections and sepsis to pneumonia to bloodstream infections” (CDC).

Community-associated MRSA infections (CA-MRSA) are MRSA infections in healthy people who have not been hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis or surgery) within the past year.

“Anyone can get MRSA on their body from contact with an infected wound or by sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, that have touched infected skin. MRSA infection risk can be increased when a person is in activities or places that involve crowding, skin-to-skin contact, and shared equipment or supplies. People including athletes, daycare and school students, military personnel in barracks, and those who recently received inpatient medical care are at higher risk” (CDC).

Sometimes, people with MRSA skin infections first think they have a spider bite. However, unless a spider is actually seen, the irritation is likely not a spider bite. Most staph skin infections, including MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that might be:

Warm to the touch
Full of pus or other drainage
Accompanied by a fever

What Should I Do If I See These Symptoms?

If you or someone in your family experiences these signs and symptoms, cover the area with a bandage, wash your hands, and contact your doctor. It is especially important to contact your doctor if signs and symptoms of an MRSA skin infection are accompanied by a fever.

What Should I do if I Think I Have a Skin Infection?

You can’t tell by looking at the skin if it is a staph infection (including MRSA).
Contact your doctor if you think you have an infection. Finding infections early and getting care make it less likely that the infection will become severe.
Do not try to treat the infection yourself by picking or popping the sore.
Cover possible infections with clean, dry bandages until you can be seen by a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider.

How To Prevent Spreading MRSA

Cover your wounds. Keep wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed. Follow your doctor’s instructions about proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain MRSA so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages and tape can be thrown away with the regular trash. Do not try to treat the infection yourself by picking or popping the sore.
Clean your hands often. You, your family, and others in close contact should wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after changing the bandage or touching the infected wound.
Do not share personal items. Personal items include towels, washcloths, razors and clothing, including uniforms.
Wash used sheets, towels, and clothes with water and laundry detergent. Use a dryer to dry them completely.
Wash clothes according to manufacturer’s instructions on the label. Clean your hands after touching dirty clothes.

All information verified by the CDC: Https://

Diane Keaton Speaks at the Bakersfield Business Conference


By Veronica Renaker

Breaking the day’s political tone, Diane Keaton gave attendees of the Bakersfield Business Conference something else to digest: Love.

For those who were hungry for politics, this shift came as a total surprise. Several made their way out of the main tent, while countless fans cheered out of respect and admiration for the leading lady as she entered the stage.
Keaton, an award winning actress, smiled as she recalled the many “kinds of love” that she’s experienced throughout her life, love that grows and changes. She spoke of the importance of loving and valuing yourself, and with that you can achieve anything.
“I chose my dream, and you know what? My dream came true,” Keaton said.



Ending her speech, Keaton delighted the crowd by singing a few lines from the song “Seems Like Old Times,” which she sang in her performance in “Annie Hall.”

“Seems like old times

“Dinner dates and flowers

“Just like old times

“Staying up for hours

“Making dreams come true

“Doing things we used to do

“Seems like old times

“Being here with you.”

Keaton is an actress, writer, director and producer. In addition to her Oscar win for her role in “Annie Hall,” Keaton has garnered 23 award nominations and 17 wins.

The lead in the 1977 film “Annie Hall” was Keaton’s breakout role and had been written expressly for her by the movie’s director, Woody Allen. This role was based on her real-life personality and created using Keaton’s nickname, Annie, and real last name, Hall. Keaton went on to mesmerize Hollywood and audiences throughout the country with her quirky personality and fashion sense.

“Annie Hall” was not her first role, however. She had her first starring role in the Broadway play “Hair.” Her first movie role was in “Lovers and Other Strangers.” But it was with the play “Play It Again, Sam,” that Keaton received a Tony nomination and began a record of award-winning performances, including many directed by Woody Allen.

The first of several starring roles in films directed by Woody Allen was her performance in the screen adaptation of “Play It Again, Sam.” She later went on to star in the Allen films “Sleeper,” “Interiors,” “Radio Days,” “Manhattan,” “Love and Death,” and “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”

Although comedy was where Keaton experienced most of her initial success, she did earn a Golden Globe nomination for the thriller “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.” In that same year, she received an Oscar for “Annie Hall,” which also won an Oscar for Best Picture. Keaton later starred in the movie “Reds,” for which she received another Oscar nomination, and again stepped outside of the comedy genre to star in the 1984 film “The Little Drummer Girl” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather,” “The Godfather: Part II,” and “The Godfather: Part III.”

But she returned to her comedy roots alongside Steve Martin in films like “Father of the Bride”

and its sequel, “Father of the Bride Part II,” as well as by starring alongside Bette Midler in

“The First Wives Club” and Jack Nicholson in “Something’s Gotta Give.”

Keaton began directing with the documentary film “Heaven.” She went on to direct other projects such as the acclaimed movie “Unstrung Heroes” and an episode of the cult classic TV show “Twin Peaks,” as well as several music videos.

Over the entirety of her career, Keaton has appeared in more than 50 films, television shows, and plays. Today, she continues to act, write and direct with an appeal that spans generations.

First Annual Bakersfield Marathon


By Joshua Rivera

Bakersfield’s first USA Track & Field organization’s certified full marathon, half marathon, 2-person half-marathon relay, and 5k run was held on Nov 13. More than 1,500 participants from Kern County and other parts California came together to experience this fun event.


This isn’t the first marathon that has been held in Kern County. The Golden Empire Marathons were 26.2-mile runs that were held in the 1980s. But this is the first year for the new Bakersfield Marathon & Half Marathon, and Kern County is hoping to make this an annual world class event. Being USATF-certified means that the Bakersfield run is a Boston Marathon-qualifier.


The marathon was supposed to start at 6 a.m., but was delayed for more than an hour. The reason behind the delay was because the KRC Safety Company, the company that the city contracted for the marathon, had to reposition the barriers and roadblocks they had set up. There was also a car crash at one of the intersections that the runners had to cross.


The course started at California State University, Bakersfield, and took the runners through downtown Bakersfield, the Stockdale Financial District, and several more iconic Bakersfield neighborhoods. The finish line was located on the Kern River Parkway Bike Trail across from CSUB near Finish Line Bikes. Mile markers were present across the course for runners to rehydrate and rest if they wanted to.


Many vendors were present for the race and were located on CSUB’s campus. Participants and spectators were encouraged to relax after the race and enjoy the food and drink that were being sold. Massage tables were even established for the participants that completed the marathon.


The fastest time for the full marathon was 2 hours, 43 minutes, and 46 seconds, and belonged to Fresno resident Jose Campos.


“This was a really fun event to participate in because I was able to run with all of my friends,” said a runner that participated in the half marathon. “I hope to run the next one with my family and maybe attempt to run the entire 26 miles.”

Bakersfield Bacon and Craft Festival

By Alberto Muro


It was a weekend of bacon and beer in Bakersfield.

The second annual Bacon and Craft Festival returned on Nov. 12. at Riverwalk Park. Up to about 30 local restaurants supported the festival along with 50 craft brewers serving drinks. One restaurant called “Don Pepes Mariscos” served bacon wrapped shrimp and jalapenos, they also poured patrons specialty spicy beverages. The employees working in the booths performed at an extraordinary pace so the lines were almost non-existent.


Lengthwise brewery has participated in local craft festivals over the years. Their reputation derives through their creativity such as brewing  locally known beverages and ecstatic pub food. Lengthwise offered patrons some samples of pulled pork sliders, macaroni and cheese with bacon bits, and a choice of spicy or barbecue sauce. Those that were thirsty were treated with Lengthwise’s assortment of beverages.


Another local brewery called “Dionysus” made their presence known at the festival. During the summer the people of Dionysus opened their doors and have since been on the move to provide monthly flavors to satisfy local needs. The employees of Dionysus greeted festival goers with samples and provided information about their brewing techniques. Although they did not have bacon samples, Dionysus did provide a welcoming environment.

temblor-local-cans temblor-draft

Last fall, Bakersfield witnessed the opening of its new local brewery called Temblor. Local restaurants and gas stations have taken notice of Temblor by selling their beverages. Lengthwise and Dionysus are also known locations to serve Temblor drinks. This is the second year that Temblor has participated in the Bacon and Craft Festival. Although they too did not serve bacon products, fans of the brewery lined up for their specialty drinks. One of the favorite beverages called “Under a blood orange sky” was described to have a smooth citrus taste. The beverage itself was dubbed as “refreshing” by the locals waiting in line.


corn-hole adult-sized-jenga

Bacon and craft drinks were not the only highlight of the event. Under the 75-degree weather, festival goers saw themselves participating in over-sized activities. Connect 4 players tried stacking their Frisbee-sized black or red markers in either a straight line or diagonal pattern. CornHole players consisted of two teams with the objective of throwing sacks into an elevated ramp with a hole; often players would stack their sacks on the surface of the board to score more points.

Tensions grew as games often got intense. Thankfully the games echoed with the groans of people painfully congratulating another skilled player followed by a handshake.



One popular destination at the festival was the bacon bar. One could imagine that such a spot would consist of bacon flavored beverages filling the cups of thirsty patrons. Unfortunately the bacon bar did not have the flavored beverage, but they did hand out substantial amounts of bacon strips. If it’s one lesson that the bacon bar has taught anyone it’s that society takes bacon for granted and often we cry at breakfast whenever bacon strips shrink. Sadness was eradicated by the sight of bacon and the Bakersfield Bacon and Craft Festival has brought a community together for the love of bacon.

mini-donuts-booth minidonuts-employee riverwalk-view


By Bailey Vega

Last month, Taft local Sara Bravo opened Yogolicious, a brand new self-serve frozen yogurt shop in town.


Photo of owner Sara Bravo (right) and her sister-in-law.

Owner Sara Bravo (right) and her sister-in-law.


Located at 428 Center Street, the store offers fifteen different flavors of yogurt and a plethora of toppings. Customers may choose from different container sizes, dispense their choices of yogurt flavors, and then proceed to the topping bar to add their favorite syrups, fruits, nuts, and/or candies. The cost for each treat is determined by the weight in ounces.

Photo of serving instructions sign

Photo of yogurt dispensers

Yogurt Dispensers


Yogolicious also circulates special limited time flavors such as pumpkin pie frozen yogurt. Additionally, they offer stamp cards that allow you to collect a stamp for every $5 spent. Once 10 stamps are earned, customers are offered a free “Froyo Loco.”

Photo of toppings  Photo of toppings

Proud to have Taft roots, Bravo has lived here for the past eleven years and is a Taft High graduate from the class of 2003.

“Five years ago, I first went into a self-serve frozen yogurt shop and thought, ‘This is it!’” Bravo, who has always wanted to start a business, said of her inspiration to open Yogolicious. She also explained that upon realizing that “Taft doesn’t have something like this,” frozen yogurt further seemed like an opportune venture for her to pursue. Since she was previously a corrections officer, she was also attracted to the concept of setting her own hours, which she says will allow for more flexibility in her schedule so she can care for her three children. The shop is run solely by Bravo, her husband, her brother, and her sister-in-law.

The business, including the name and all of the equipment and signs, was purchased in its entirety from a former owner in Los Angeles. Bravo bought the building in Taft over a year ago, and it has undergone numerous months of construction and design preparation in order to be transformed into what it looks like today.

Photo of shop's interior Photo of yogurt dispensers

“This community is so warm and welcoming,” Bravo said, expressing her appreciation for the great number of customers and positive reviews Yogolicious has already attracted in the few weeks it has been in business.


The November/December hours for the shop are 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, and it is open every day except for Wednesdays and Sundays. For more information and updates, visit the Yogolicious Facebook page:

Dia De Los Muertos

By Alberto Muro

ramos-shrine-2 glass-skulls-display


During the first two days of November, Hispanic cultures partake in the largest celebration that symbolizes a reflection of their deceased loved ones. Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration that honors their gone relatives. Friends and families erect shrines of their deceased and bring belongings that reflects on their past life. Dia De Los Muertos also shares a religious following from the Catholic Church as alters are also aligned with rosaries and scriptures from the Bible.


The events that occur during Dia De Los Muertos are live music, Baile Folclorico de Mexico (Mexican Ballet), face painting, and sugar skull decorations. On the evening of November 2nd the 24th annual Dia De Los Muertos Expo was held at the Druids of Bakersfield hall. The host of the event was Cruz Ramos who also happens to be the dancing instructor. She welcomed everyone to the Dia De Los Muertos event and introduced the first performers.



The first performance consisted of  a person representing St. Michael the Archangel and a group of youthful dancers dressed in skeletal clothing. The skeletal dancers positioned themselves on the floor, and the performance began with St. Michael walking in between the dancers blowing his horn. Next, the dancers awake as if they have been startled from the grave. Now the center of the room has skeletons dancing around and gaining the applause from the audience. The dance routine symbolizes the dead trying to reconnect with the living.


Upon the completion of the skeleton dance, The Marcos-Reyes-Band began playing music during the intermission which inspired audience members to get up and dance. The environment was lively for an event honoring the dead. Often, we use the time to honor our deceased by mourning; instead Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration of life through unification.


The next group of dancers were Muriel Ramos’ students from Mount Vernon Elementary School. The dancers wore the traditional face paint with symbols reflecting their deceased loved ones. The audience began clapping with the stomping rhythm of the dancers which could be heard through out the dance hall. Showing resilience towards fatigue, the little dancers kicked, spun, and kept the rhythm till the end. Impressed and astonished by the dancers, the audience could not resist blowing the roof off the venue with cheers and applause. Once the dancers finished, they bowed and made their exit.


female-dancers women-dancers-2



The Marcos-Reyes-Band briefly played more music until the next set of dancers was ready to perform. After the band played their last song, the female dancers got into formation and began their routine. Similar to the Mt Vernon Elementary dancers, the females painted half their faces with detailed drawings. The attention of the audience focused more on the bright red dresses that the women wore which was accompanied by a swinging dance routine. The lack of applause did not symbolize a staggering performance; instead the audience was caught in a trance by the visual aspect of the moving dresses. Once the dancers were finished, they bowed and were met with applause.

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Once the female dancers cleared the area, the next set of dancers approached wearing old men masks, hats, and ponchos and carryingwooden canes.  It was not the local retirement home coming to dance but instead a youthful group of dancers ready to prove that old men can dance. The dance was called “Los Viejitos” (The Old Men) and the concept of the dance is the old men are expressing their discomfort around the idea of death. One dancer collapsed to the floor as the old men kept on walking. But to our surprise, the skeleton dancers came back for an encore to help the old man up. The old man was thankful for the fact that death lent him a hand. Now friends with the skeletons, the old man returned to his group, and to his surprise, they all fainted. Laughter could be heard from the audience followed by applause as the skeletons assisted the old man with dragging his friends off stage.

hula-hoop flag-dancing



The final dance involved an illuminated hula hoop enthusiast that represented a free spirit in a red dress as she pranced around a dark room. Multiple colors irradiated as the dancer spun her hoop faster and leaped great distances around the dance floor. Unfamiliar with what the audience was spectating, a dark room cheered as the dancer paused and sprung back into action. Unlike the other performances, the hula hoop routine consisted of one individual, and they delivered an entertaining aspect that Dia De Los Muertos taps into–the creativity of people to express themselves for the ones they miss.

Halloween in the Dorms

By Mark O’Connor

College campuses are filled with terrifying things such as research papers, midterms, group assignments, and professors who hand out homework on the weekends.

On Halloween night students had a great time getting dressed up in the TIL (Transition to Independent Living) and Ash Street dorms to forget about all of those petrifying things.

In the Ash Street dorms participants decorated their dorms for a Halloween decorating contest, the winner received a cash prize. One room had a mini haunted house that you could walk through while they attempted to scare you, and if you were brave enough to step through the spine-chilling walk way you were rewarded with candy in light of the Halloween spirit.

In the TIL dorms, students also decorated the doors with designs that read “Dead Inside, Do Not Enter” and “Caution” tape wrapped around the outside. There was a DJ that playing music in the center of the dorms that had people dancing and having a good time.

As students walked through the dorms they found themselves having a great time, sharing laughs and eating Halloween candy as if they were reliving their childhood days.

Artists’ Big Creative Thirst at Taft Gallery

By Ray Raygoza

Local art students collaborated with English students to raise awareness about the planet’s diminishing drinkable water supply and its unappreciated importance to the sustainment and progress of society.



The  gallery was packed, bustling with artists, writers, and their supporters enjoying the exhibit. Many students and instructors also came from nearby classrooms to observe.


“The Flow of Creativity” was the befitting name for the art exhibit at the Taft College Campus Art Gallery on Thursday, October 20th in which students displayed paintings alongside selected quotes from Charles Fishman’s The Big Thirst. The event was part of the annual “One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern” project initiated yearly by the Kern County Library network and California State University, Bakersfield.



Local art student presents her piece to observant judges. Students participating in the exhibit were scored by art judges for first, second, and third place prizes provided by facilitating faculty.


Taft College’s Basic Art 1600 students with instructor Deborah Rodenhauser worked interdepartmentally with Kamala Carlson and Danielle Kerr of the English department to create beautiful paintings of all different media based on selected quotes from Fishman’s book. Excerpts from the book, which is written in highly stylized prose, were paraphrased by the English students.



The staff responsible for “Quench: The Flow of Creativity” exhibit. From left Gaysha Smith, Kamala Carlson, Deborah Rodenhauser, and Danielle Kerr


The English 1000 students in Carlson and Kerr’s classes have been assigned to read the book, which is a collection of musings and essays on Fishman’s philosophy about the disparaging and globally fragmented water distribution, as well as data based on his travels and research of the different ways that water is used throughout the world.


Fishman also writes of how the global water supply is becoming–and has become in many regions–irreversibly contaminated as a result of decades of pollution and the careless use of water as a source for waste.


Rodenhauser remarked jokingly, pertaining to America’s ever-intensifying water situation, “It’s as if all of the drugs and pills we washed down the drain in the sixties and seventies are coming back to haunt us!” According to Fishman’s sobering data, she is not far from the reality of things.


Fishman writes, “The new class of micropollutants we are beginning to hear about–infinitesimal, almost molecular traces of plastics, birth control pills, antidepressants–have literally been invisible even to chemists until very recently; you certainly can’t tell if they’re in your water by looking at it or drinking it. The impact of those micropollutants on our health, if any, may remain invisible for years–and may be almost impossible to predict or trace” (8).


Much of the book entails these kinds of warnings against the seemingly grim future of water and its function in our society along with musings from Fishman’s travels to different sacred water supplies throughout the world. The artists that participated in “The Flow of Creativity” were commissioned to create works that reflect his writings through their own creative lenses. Some of the artists were able to share their thoughts on their pieces, the water issues, and art in general.


“Comic artists like Michael Turner, Bret Booth, and Jim Lee really motivated me when I was starting,” says Nashel Tena of her pursuits in visual arts, something she has been passionate about since she was a young child. Her piece is an iridescent, comic-style portrait of a young man inspired by Fishman’s account of a boy that bemoaned a devastating drought in his home country. Tena says that she was very moved by the fact that even though the boy in Fishman’s excerpt yearned for free-flowing water; it has never come. Her piece was one of the few judges’ selections of the evening’s exhibit.



Nashel Tena poses with her colorful piece that won a second-place prize among the paintings, sketches, and mixed media pieces of the exhibit.


“If anyone is looking to pursue art, you have to build a passion for it and really want to improve yourself. Don’t believe people that say ‘you have natural talent.’ You’ve got to work for it. If you really want to work for it, then you can get there. If you want to be good at something, you can be,” she says.


The image drawn by Samuel Rodriguez displays water molecules and an abstract mountain range. It conveyed sophisticated blending techniques and precise attention to detail. “Earth has the water trapped in what is considered a 4th state” Rodriguez says. “Under extreme confinement, water molecules are able to move through energy barriers.” Simply put, water molecules that are normally trapped beneath the earth’s surface also happen to be above the earth.



Ashtian Wright and Samuel Rodriguez pictured with their paraphrase and art piece, respectively.


English student Ashtian Wright was responsible for compiling the paraphrase for the assignment. “We were assigned quotes about water, so I utilized my creative thinking and came up with a descriptive analysis.” Both participants put their skills to the test and produced a detailed illustration about the essence of water.


When asked why she selected the particular excerpt from Fishman’s book that she did, Victoria Fraire, an art history and English literature major at Taft College, said “I liked the way it spoke of how sacred the water is and how it is pictured as something spiritual. For me–when I did my piece–that was a main thing. Water gives life and nobody really values that.”



Victoria Fraire with her award-winning piece “Tree of Life.” She says that her piece was inspired by Fishman’s account of the way that bodies of water are regarded as deeply spiritual and divine in foreign countries.


After finishing her studies at Taft, native Northern Californian Fraire hopes to purse higher education in art and literature at either The University of California, Berkeley or The University of San Francisco. She fondly remembers the renaissance art and architecture of Europe, in places such as Spain and France, from where she has only recently returned this past year. She aspires to study abroad and looks forward to visiting Italy, particularly Venice and Florence.


When asked to advise growing artists, she relays the advice she gives to her artistic eleven-year-old daughter: “Day by day, go outside and look at things. Always keep a sketchbook to sketch whatever catches your eye. If it’s something that you’re passionate about, study it everyday. And always make sure that you’re in the moment.”


The judges undoubtedly had a difficult time selecting which pieces would go on to be displayed at the CSUB art exhibit of a similar vein. Winners were also recognized and honored at Charles Fishman’s panel on Thursday, October 27th, at which Fishman appeared to discuss his work and to field questions from readers.


The judges’ selections of the evening were Ashley Ramos and Vicoria Fraire for 1st place; Maria Zavala and Nashel Tena for 2nd Place; Karen Rodriguez, Shelby Jacobson, and Madison Borecco for 3rd place. Listed are paraphrasing writers alongside the visual artists.