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‘Here and Now’: Students Celebrate Science Fiction Icon

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Exploring the influence of Philip K. Dick in science fiction — and his connection to Cal State Fullerton — are the topics of “Philip K. Dick: Here and Now,” on display through June 16 at the Pollak Library’s Salz Pollak Atrium Gallery.

Co-curators Cliff Cramp, professor of art, and David Sandner, professor of English, comparative literature and linguistics, teamed up with their students for an exhibition that highlights some of the author’s books, manuscripts and correspondence — housed at the library’s University Archives & Special Collections — and 59 faculty and student illustrations.

“Visual development artists will use the story and characters to build a basic concept that is used as a guideline for an entire project,” said Cramp. “As one critic stated, ‘The works of Philip K. Dick present metaphysical conundrums about identity, humanity and the nature of reality.’ In the fashion of the old pulp illustrators, CSUF artists are proud to use four works by Philip K. Dick as a platform in which to build worlds.”

The late Willis McNelly, a CSUF English professor, met Philip K. Dick in 1972 and helped him relocate to Fullerton. The author even lived with Cal State Fullerton students for some time; it’s said that he became somewhat of a campus regular.

M.A. art-illustration student Garrett Kaida contributed a few illustrations to the exhibition. “I choose a couple books to Illustrate, but my favorite one was ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch,’” he explained. “In the book, Earth is wildly overpopulated. You have an elite class trying to stay on earth and not get shipped off to the Mars colonies. The power struggle between the characters was very intriguing.”

The process for his Philip K. Dick-inspired work included jotting down ideas and details while he read and figuring out a character or a moment in the story that he wanted to portray. “After the brainstorming is done, I move into thumbnailing out my ideas in a visual format. I then begin researching scenery, lighting and clothing for details in the environment and characters I will be painting. Then I draw and paint out the scene.”

The connection between Philip K. Dick and Cal State Fullerton, he explains, gives him hope that he, too, will go on to great things. “Perhaps one day my work will be used in film or serve to inspire other creative people in their endeavors.”