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Titan Spotlight

Art Alumnus Awarded 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship

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On April 11, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced the appointment of 188 Guggenheim Fellowships to a distinguished and diverse group of culture creators working across 52 disciplines including journalism, performing and visual arts, science, and medicine. The College of the Arts and Department of Art are pleased to announce that Cal State Fullerton alumnus Leonard Suryajaya ’13 (B.F.A. art-creative photography, B.A. theatre arts) is among this year’s awardees. As a student at CSUF, he was awarded three Art Alliance undergraduate scholarships for his photography.

Since 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has awarded over $400 million in fellowship stipends to more than 19,000 fellows. Fellows are awarded based on prior career achievement and exceptional promise. This year, awardees were chosen from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants.

Suryajaya’s work investigates the boundaries between intimacy, community and family, revealing the multilayered and multifaceted nature of everyday life. Many of his works center on his paradoxical childhood in Indonesia where his Chinese Buddhist parents settled and where Suryajaya attended a Christian school in a majority-Muslim country. Suryajaya’s family often participate in his fantastical, comical tableaux where issues of social, familial and cultural identity are enacted.

In an Instagram post announcing his award, Suryajaya declared the moment “…insane and monumental in my career as an independent visual artist with no academic affiliation or gallery representation.”

Recognizing the struggles he has overcome, he said, “I’m honored and uplifted to know that the challenges I’ve faced — leaving Indonesia, leaving my family behind, setting up a career and home in Chicago, finding new kin and communities, sticking with the 4×5 film camera — would amount to this moment. I’m grateful for all the sorrows, doubts, anxieties, fears and uncertainties that built me and gave me the strength to keep going.”

Heather Richards-Siddons