Monday, November 9, 2009

Cart Update

Above are some pictures of the cart in process. I made some calculations errors and forgot to account for the 6" of the wheels and base, thus the cart is a little tall - kind of more like a desk. I've asked a few people what they think and everyone seems to say that it is fine, but I'm still considering cutting 5" down to mimic cart proportions more accurately. This would involve a lot of extra labor, and I'm trying to decide how quickly I want this piece out there. It would be great to take it out to the gallery walk on Thursday downtown, but there's always next month.

Work in Progress - Cut-Out

I'm working on creating a painting / sculpture in the format of an amusement park cut-out, which will incorporate the patterns I investigated turning the initial part of the project. This project is dealing with the diverse and abundant amount of visual information that our eyes take in through the process of accumulation of objects and consumption. Using silhouetted shapes of common domestic household objects, patterns will be represented in each shape, and will also allow the viewer to enter into the piece and observe their own contribution to this organized visual chaos. The theme of amusement park of the format of the cut-out also references Los Angeles culture.

If you saw a previous post about patterns, then you can reference those images, and imagine them within the shapes drawn out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

the usual questioning

It's that time of year when I begin to question what the hell I'm doing, and in addition, what art is doing for me or anyone else. Watching Art21 tonight the artist Baldessari was saying that he started art later in life because he didn't see the purpose in it, "you can't mend bone, make shelter." This is kind of the problem I mentally always come back to.

I struggle with the conventional and bohemian sides of myself. The desire to be an accountant, and the longing to be an artist to actualize my ideas. I don't think I feel so opposite about anything else in my life, but I think this is because the issue resides around economy, class and our culture; that I struggle with my decision to be an artist. This is the struggle with security versus flux. There is a negotiation within the ambiguous definition of art that if creativity and creation exists in all acts within life then there could be another way about living this life in a way that would be respected by others, financially speaking. But would I die of boredom, or be willing to settle with one subject matter? I stand at the point of definition within my life. If I am to make this path work I have to use these fears and desires as honestly as I can in my artwork.

My interests in consumption and commodification I think comes from this place of conflict within me - wanting to be defined and be the definer. This was further reinforced by early observations of my parents' small business, and my many entrepreneurial businesses I've started - lemonade stands, bake sale and car washing. Within this area of interest I can play out some of these conventional roles of clerk, treasurer, secretary, greeter, vendor and list goes on.

The idea of "just being an artist" comes from my humble background and my desire to give back. I've always felt a little indulgent when it came to art making. To be able to toy over an idea and your own interests seems like mental masturbation. Not that I don't love it, or seeing others' ideas manifest into objects, but it is a conflicted area of interest depending on my particular perspective at any given moment. And within these notions I find myself in a MFA program called Public Practice. Its all starting to sense to me, slowly and not without trepidation, but perhaps that is who I am right now.

And this is all part of creating a public and/or personal art practice. Oh the pleasure and the pain.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Production Studio - Class #8

Today in class class we decided that the fundaraising was not financially beneficial for the amount of time we were putting in. The fundraising event we held on Saturday at 18th Street Gallery was a success in terms of networking, but we didn't make much money. This lead to the outcome we voting on today: fundraising within our projects in more specific ways, and including this in the gallery exhibit.

During Bob's lecture in class, he discussed how unique his LACMAlab project was, specifically because it was at a non-contemporary museum. He also curated the show to include all ages, which came out of the idea that kids learn best when engaged with their parents. He discussed several shows he curated like this, showing examples.

One main point out of his lecture, was the following question:
Can our projects motivate people, which is different from just informing?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Community Art Entanglement

Today I had my first run in with maintaining autonomy as artist. While I am aware of what that means, I found myself in a conversation with the director of my CBO saying "...and as a volunteer.... I'll have check with my lawyer about our political position on that." And that's when I knew I must have miss communicated something. I now need to figure out how to better explain the partnership I am creating between organization and artist. I am grateful to be working for a cause I truly care about, and with a person I can easily talk to, as this should make the delicate process of collaboration more fluid, I hope.

While I feel pressured to begin the projects and get things rolling (only 9 weeks left), I think it will take at least another week or two of conversations to get to a common goal secured. I am hoping to arrange a meeting with the whole staff, as they will be my community, and as to have feed back from more people. I look forward to hearing the needs of the doctors and staff, and sharing my ideas with them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Independent Merge

During my independent hour with Dana my work started to merge between what I thought I was making as personal practice and public practice. I've had this idea in my head about making a cart that I've been trying to stick everywhere, but I didn't understand why. I now can see it as an extension of some of the other work I have done. The previous project I was working on - the cut-out - is tabled until I can get this cart built and on the road. I know it's a big project, but once I get it together, I'm going to be all over this town, and using it more multiple projects. And if I get out of school and can't get a job, well I'll be all ready to vend. I'm also seeing a "carney" theme emerge from this work, which can also be interpreted as a wonder's entrepreneurial business element. This is exciting to see, but I feel like it is taking me forever to actually produce anything.

Thursday I have a demo in the tool crib, which will allow me access to work with the machinery, and then I can get going on producing these objects. In the mean time I'm busy at trying to coordinate with my CBO about other proposed projects.

So little time for everything to come together, but I am certain it will.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Production Studio - Class #7

This class was the night we presented our final decision about our CBO's to the class, Bob, and the 18th Street staff (Clayton and Ronald). I worked on it the entire weekend, and ended up presenting 2 ideas, the Health Clinic and a satellite project idea, with the latter being less developed.

The meeting I had with the director on Monday, the day before the presentation, really sealed the deal for me. It was a great meeting, and not only was there a really strong and clear need, but I found the director easy to talk to and hopefully to collaborate with.

I presented my CBO and ideas using power point. I handed out Emergen-C to everyone, per the theme, and because of a possible looming cold I had. I was nervous as heck, but the whole presentation went over well, and was well received.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Production Studio - Class #6

Production Studio was really helpful today, as we got to talk about a lot of issues concerning us, and me with our community project development. The deadline is real though, and I need to finalize an organization / project topic by this Friday. Yikes. I realized that this process of choosing an organization has been particularly hard for me, because I have really been trying to not chose a random, needy population to do a project with, but instead work with issues and larger groups of people. In some ways I feel inarticulate to try to push for what I am really wanting (or maybe just not really knowing) to get out of this project, but I am slowly finding my words. I have to remember that this is only the first of many projects I will work on and not be overly careful about my choice.

I do indeed have a lot of brainstorming and logistical work to do on this project this week. And where ever I'm at with it on Friday is how I will progress with it. I'm struggling with the role of authorship and creative integrity right now. In collaborating I've discovered that I must comprise, perhaps not working with the organizations I wanted to, but could still work with the issues of interest. Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Personal Practices

In my independent study class I'm working on developing a body of work independent of my public practice. Through this work I am working on my visual vocabulary.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Guest Speaker - Production class #5

Tonight we had a guest lecture from John Quigley, who is an activist, artist and organizer. He has taken over 100 aerial photographs of people on the ground working for environmental causes. We had the pleasure of participating in an experiment of his, and being photographed by him. We were asked to create an image for the organization, specifically using the number '350.' This was to be done in 3 ways: with objects, with a sign and with our bodies as a group. I found personally that using my body to be part of the message was the most powerful, and I believe this was because it meant I couldn't just be a by-stander. I was actually physically involved. The next most powerful was the arranging of objects, because we were thrown into a physical task. And the least effective for me was the sign. I wondered what it would have been like to be asked to bring an object, perhaps for a larger cause, to be incorporated into the photo.

To further elaborate on the process of using my body as part of the message, I was also participating without having to make too many choices. By being present and using my body it was easy to be involved. In arranging the objects there was an obligation to interact, that could be good, depending on the intended outcome. If I was coming to support a cause in a big group I would rather use my body than be thrown into the paradox of choice with others. I did enjoy the problem solving that went along with the arrangment of objects, but it was also a little caotic.

Hearing John speak about his work was really inspiring. He had a lot of really good tips and advise to offer, such as:
  • recognizing the political structure your working within, and possiblly reframing your way of working with an organization - offfer project as means of support
  • Recognizing a real "no" and a false "no"
  • Working from a Code of Ethics
  • Using art as a tool of coalition building - sometimes getting 2 parties to talk that otherwise would of never communicated before the possiblity of being apart of something bigger.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Project in Process

For my class 'Advanced Topics: Urbanism' our first project is to notice something specific about our neighborhood and take 30 photos. We've had a month to do this, and I have been trying, but alas, I can not create unless under the wire. So it's due on Monday, and I am finally really starting to make progress on it. The process started with me taking pictures of spaces, mostly parks, with and without people. Then I read an article by Jane Jacobs and realized the answer to my question with that idea, and moved on. Next I became interested in patterns. So I began taking photos of patterns in my neighborhood. I was interested in the metaphor of patterns for the diversity in the neighborhood. While I was out finding patterns, mostly on buildings, I had an epiphany. If I was interested in talking about the diversity of people in my neighborhood, then maybe I should just photograph them.

I quickly came up with a criteria for how I would do this while photographing the first person. I introduced myself as a student in the neighborhood working on a project to take pictures of people in the neighborhood. I would try to ask every other person I encountered on the street, that wasn't walking too fast or in mid conversation with someone else. Without realizing it, I quickly had meet 10 people in my neighborhood. I tried to keep the encounters as brief contacts and only told my name if people asked, and didn't ask for theirs. Some people enjoyed talking, while others just said 'thank you'. I was aiming for anonymous contact, which as Jane Jacobson suggested, is a vital part of a community.

A few observations that I had with this experience:
  • Older women were less likely to allow me to photograph them
  • Older Asian people were less likely to allow me to photograph them
  • Males were more likely (I wonder if that was because I was a young woman)
  • Younger men and women were more likely to allow me to photograph.
  • Half the people that allowed me to photograph them asked me questions, like were I went to school and what I was studying.
  • One person asked me my name.
I really feel like a public practice grad student now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Figuring it Out.

After my botched presentation I started questioning why I had even picked these communities, and asking my self if I really felt a personal connection to these communities. In talking about my presentation failures with Suzanne, I came across some clearer answers as to why these communities were of interest to me. In trying to identify a personal issue that was important to me I kept thinking that I was hiding from a personal cause I cared about: health care. In actuality I had gone straight to the source in an equally personal issue: home and homelessness.

I also noticed that I was speaking with a lot of 'should's' in questioning myself; a sure sign that I'm trying to live up to someone else's expectations other than my own. Suzanne did have a good point that this program is a good environment to explore issues you wouldn't otherwise. In approaching my chosen community, I'm going to keep that in mind, but also trust myself with my choices.

Every day I learn so much more about this field and myself. Such a rewarding experience.


On Tuesday night I had one of my first failures. Keeping in mind that this is a productive part of the process, I have to mention it. During the last Production Studio class we were getting ready to present our organizations of interest. I was feeling ready having done my sketches, made notes and talked to one of the communities. But the problem was that I wasn't prepared with what my professor wanted, which was just the facts about the organizations/communities. I had gotten ahead of myself and over looked the simplest of tasks.

While it had been a big embarrassing mess for me in front of the class, I woke up the next day ready to find answers the questions I didn't know. I called and talked with my organization I was most interested in: District 13's Neighborhood Council of East Hollywood. Much to my surprise there was interest in my ideas, and the VP of the council was interested to get involved.

So lesson learned: when you fall down, just get back up.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Love in a Cementary Questionaire

As part of my program, all incoming Otis students in the Public Practice program participate in a community project at the beginning of the program. This year Andrea Bowers in our instructor and is participating in a residency at 18th street studios in Santa Monica. For her residency she has decided to develop a laboratory or practicum where experimentation with interventions and collaborations between cultural and community organizations take place. This is our 1st year community project. Below is a questionnaire that she and Bob Sain developed.

  1. Do cultural organizations have the responsibility to address social issues such as class, ethnicity, gender and politics? Why and how?
  2. Can a cultural organization impact the life of the community in a meaningful way? And is so, how?
  3. What are the roles for artists within cultural organization? Should artistic programs be determined only be curators and directors?
  4. What should cultural institutions look like today and in the future? What might a "new" cultural organization look like?
These questions and ideas are to tie into of project in some way. My answers to these are to follow soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Third Week.

The end of the third week is here. I believe I finally have a regular schedule of classes to follow, and the work load is starting to pile up. It's been an intense few weeks, full of long days (some 14 hours), but I'm starting to get used to it. And while there is a lot of work ahead, I'm pretty excited about it.

My program is full of great people, amazing professors and tons of opportunities. In fact, I never thought I would of had so many opportunities. I've had to be realistic about where I want to focus my energy and what I'm really capable of doing. In the spirit of this, I dropped one class, so I am down to 15 credits, which is 5 classes. Still a lot, but that's really the minimum that we're expected to take. I also decided to not apply for the TAship at a local high school, since it wasn't what I wanted.

Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and a bit of a break this weekend. The great thing about this program is that things I like to do all feed into my work.


It's Thursday night and I'm racking my brain about this community project, which we begin presenting our ideas on Tuesday. I need to limit my interests to 3 organizations that I would be interested in collaborating. I should really be in Fresno with my professor and class, but it just didn't work out, so I am missing an awesome Feminist lecture.

For the first time, I started have fun thinking about all of the different organizations I could work with and remembered that I have my whole life to do this work, not just the next 2 years. That was a much needed perspective, because I was becoming too overwhelmed; feeling like my career was betting on this. It's just one of many opportunities that will come my way.

Remembering back to the days before school, I use to fret about how to make make these connections with organizations, and once I do, what to do. So it's not so different, but I have been down this path before, but this time I have teachers and colleagues. Over the last week, I kinda forgot how important that was, and started thinking about how much this school was costing me. My advise if you decide to go to a expensive school, sign the papers and don't think about it, especially if you have to create.

Back to the ideas about the community project: I have it narrowed down to 3, and then there's a possible fourth. The good news is that which ever organization I don't chose now I can use for my next year project and thesis. The communities I'm thinking about working with are as follows: a local Neighborhood Council in East Hollywood, Silver Lake Farms, The Center for Land Use Interpretation, and the possible 4th is tied between the Arthritis Foundation - LA chapter and LA Care. So the issues I'm looking at working with are: Land, Food, Neighborhoods and health care. All really diverse, but important to me.

Time to take a break on this and start planing the rest of my weeks schedule as its going fast. Tomorrow is a lecture with the 2nd year students at FarmLab.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


As others in their second year of this program warned: There Will BE CONFLICT!
And so it was that I had my first run in with a fellow colleague. The details of the scenario are unimportant, only that if was resolved amicably. Perhaps it was practice for the community project I am beginning this semester.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Field Trip

This program seems to be really big on field trips, which is great. For my 3rd class in Production Studio took a field trip down to the District 13 City Council's office. We were toured through the neighborhood by the founder of LA Commons and the VP of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council (where I home to do my community art project). Here are some picture of the class and neighborhood from that day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Community Art Production Studio - 2nd Class

We began with a tour this afternoon by Clayton Campbell, the man responsible for curation of the 18th st. art studio space where our class is held. After viewing the space and talking about the history of the art center, I'm still left wondering about the neighborhood that this space exists within.
(?) Check out map and research area of 18th st. studios

Next, Pauline introduced us to some frame work to think about this project. She gave us (5) areas to consider:
1) Investigation - of ourselves and the various organizations
2) Access / Gatekeeper - Who is the person that can allow us the into the organization to even talk about the possibility of collaborating?
3) Engaging the Community - this can happen through a variety of ways:
----social engagement
----Public Practice
4) Outcome - How will this piece manifest its self?
5) Sustanability - What will happen after our partnership is over?

(?) Note to self - Consider process model

Next we spoke about fundraising. We concluded that we should all try to raise $500 per project. We discussed in-kind donations and events that we could hold.

HW - for next class:
* See (?) above
* Research organization to pair with
* Brainstorm fundraising ideas
* Email Andrea a blub or 18th st. website
* Read the theme of 18th St. " Creative Economy"
* Pick up copy of Ad Busters for a world view update

Friday, June 5, 2009


One year ago I began 2 different blogs in another city. I had just recently moved to the Boston area from Miami, and was starting my graduate degree in Art Therapy at Lesley University. Fast forward one year later, to now, and I'm living in Los Angeles starting a new masters program in Public Art making, an MFA.

It's been a turbulent year for sure, questioning everything, feeling confused and stupid for having made mistakes. To look back now though, I am proud I made those difficult decisions, and had the courage to follow my dreams.

My motivations for going into Art Therapy was 2 fold: to become a professional, and to still be able to use art. The argument made sense to me, and I had to try it, but yet it didn't work. During the spring semester that I took off from school and worked, I considered all fields: librarian, politician, arts advocate, medical illustrator, doctor, engineer, and I'm sure there were more. I followed my partner's lead who at the time was also looking for his dream career, and decided I couldn't be a therapist.

The problem with the field for me was the idea of being a therapist. As much as I researched before, nothing prepared me for the experience, and the the outlook of doing that work for the next 20 + years. It wasn't challenging in the ways that felt fulling to me.

So thus, I went back to what I considered my idea of my "dream" job, inspired by an artist lecture (Alfredo Jaar) I attended at FIU during my undergrad studies. Jaar inspired me in the way he worked. It would only take 4 years or so for me to recognize this as a possible option for my career. Thanks to the encouragement and support of my amazing partner, I cautiously decided to give it a shot. I mean, after all, what's the worst that could happen. I decide I don't want to do this. Well, at least I know what that feels like.

I still have urges to explore other careers like a scientist, economist or urban planner, but at least I can do that as an artist. And if I get out of this program, and decide to still do those things, I can. At least I will have pursued my current dreams to the fullest.