When you think of superheroes, the first thing that comes to mind might be the newest “Avengers” flick or the slew of new films based on their rival comic book heroes in The Justice League. Azusa Pacific University’s Art Department brings these larger-than-life characters a little closer to home with Jose Fernandez’s “The Pursuit of Giants” display in the Duke Gallery.
The exhibit from the costume designer and creative director at Ironhead Studio consists of masks and costume pieces seen on characters like Loki from “Thor,” Batman from “Batman Returns,” Wolverine from the “X-Men” movies and French music duo Daft Punk.
An enormous collage made up of pictures of Fernandez sculpting in the workroom takes up one wall of the exhibit. Through the photographs, viewers can see the wide range of projects he has worked on since his career began in 1989 as a sculptor on the film “Gremlins.”
“[His] reputation for subtlety and a classic aesthetic have continued to put him in demand in more recent years, and can be most readily seen in characters such as the Silver Surfer and ‘Hellboy’s’ Abe Sapien, as well as the designs and construction of the specialty costumes for ‘X-Men United’ and ‘Fantastic Four,’” according to the Ironhead Studio website.
The other walls are dedicated to quotes that have motivated him and that he hopes will inspire future artists. These words revolving around themes of success and determination encapsulate the exhibit’s focus on superheroes and what they mean to the artist.
“I was thinking about what I feel superheroes represent and it occurred to me that, for myself anyway, they are in a way modern-day giants, if not in physical stature, then by the sheer magnitude they have on screen and in the minds of the fans around the world,” said Fernandez on how he thought of the title, “The Pursuit of Giants.”
Other than movie theaters, Jose Fernandez has had his work displayed in art studios and museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This partnership with Azusa Pacific University came to pass due to his friendship with the school’s exhibitions director, professor Stephen Childs.
“Jose Fernandez has been a friend of mine for a long time,” Childs said. “I have wanted to bring him to campus for a while, and I’m glad he was gracious to let us show a fraction of the phenomenal work that he has produced in his career.”
This partnership was equally as rewarding for Fernandez as for the university.
“I feel that I have been given a lot of help in my life, so it’s nice to be able to give something back and hopefully inspire the next generation of artists,” Fernandez said. “What I bring into each project is the drive to deliver something that I can be proud of, and then trying to build upon what I have learned from past projects to hopefully always be growing.”
If you are a superhero fan, a film aficionado or someone looking for inspiration, it may be worthwhile to visit the free exhibit. It will be on display in the Duke Gallery on West Campus through Feb. 6.