In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in early October, website NBC Latino named California State University, Northridge professor of Chicana/o studies Denise Sandoval one of the #NBCLatino20. All of the honorees “are fiercely proud of their heritage, which has guided their work and inspired their accomplishments,” according to the English-language website, which features Hispanic-oriented NBC content. The list includes professionals as disparate as supermodels, astronauts and chefs.
Sandoval ’95 (M.A., Chicana/o Studies) has been researching and curating exhibits on lowrider culture for more than 20 years. She most recently curated a lowrider exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum, which opened in spring 2017. The exhibit, The High Art of Riding Low, runs through June 2018 in the museum’s Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery.
Sandoval said she wasn’t expecting the honor from NBC, but she felt excited when she heard the news. The broadcasting company recognized the professor for her passion, vocation and skill sets.
“I am very honored to be among the group they chose for this year,” she said. “I strongly believe that I am one person among many who are using their voices and professions to contribute to a better and socially just world.”
The High Art exhibit already has logged more than 1 billion hits online — museum enthusiasts searching for the exhibit online and clicking on articles related to its pieces — Sandoval said. The exhibit features sculptures, paintings, installations and, of course, lowrider vehicles as art.
The term “lowrider” has a dual meaning, said Sandoval, who previously curated the Petersen exhibitions Arte y Estilo (2000) and La Vida Lowrider: Cruising the City of Angels (2007).
“[This exhibit] is bringing together two worlds that have really played a big part in my professional and personal life,” she said. “I’m trained in ethnic studies and Chicano studies, [so I see] my role as continuing to document our stories — our Chicano stories — in academia, but also always being connected to the community.”
Sandoval expressed gratitude for the support offered by the CSUN community.
“I am very proud to be part of a campus that values the scholarship and work of all the wonderful faculty, both inside and outside our campus,” Sandoval said. “CSUN is continuing to lead in the arts.”
Currently, Sandoval is on sabbatical, interviewing artists from the exhibit as part of a larger book project about The High Art of Riding Low. For more information about the exhibit, please visit petersen.org.