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Jean art inspires thought, conversation as it strides across campus

Artist, followed by row of jeans without bodies.

Artist, followed by row of jeans without bodies.

  • May 11, 2010 12:00pm

San Francisco has its giant hearts, Pleasanton has an installation of lifelike humans, and Cal State East Bay has its striding jeans.

Thirty head- and torso-less pair – three out of step – appeared overnight in late-Winter quarter on the Art & Education Building lawn. Sixteen of them – rescued from a Theater Building dumpster – have reappeared just as mysteriously across from the Student Bookstore.

The creator/artist is an exuberant 25-year-old Afghan double majoring in Art and Criminal Justice who saw a need for new campus art when he arrived here two years ago.

“The jeans just came to me when I heard about the lay-offs of faculty and lecturers; headless bodies walking around,” says Ali Sharifi, who hopes to one day be a police sketch artist.

He loves to witness reaction to his art. People ask one another, “What is it?, Who did it?” 

Art Professor Grace Munakata has, on three occasions, through that she was looking at an amazing outdoor class installation, only to learn the work has all been by Ali.

He’s also the man behind “Peace,” an iridescent woman holding flowers on the A&E lawn that resembles an ice sculpture,” the disc composition he calls, “The Thinking Thing,” on A&E’s  second floor, and a nearby set of columns that illuminates a door to the roof that previously went unnoticed.

Sharifi is also responsible for a giant “Pepsi” can at Fremont’s Lake Elizabeth composed of tossed soda cans collected on site, and another iridescent human in front of the San Francisco Holocaust Museum.

Sharifi credits two favorite instructors with providing the encouragement to bring his ideas to life: Munakata, and Dickson Schneider, whose favorite saying is, “Just do it.”


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