Graduate Public Practice It was like a magnet, an art magnet. —Roberto Del Hoyo (’10) and David Russell (MFA candidate, ’11) Mobile Mural Lab
Los Angeles—global center of public practices by artists and collaborative groups—is the dynamic setting for Otis’ MFA in Public Practice with studio facilities in the historic 18th Street Art Center.
Among working Los Angeles and international artists, students are encouraged to consider themselves as emerging professionals within the vast cultural and spatial geography of Southern California.
“As a painter and visual artist, I was unsatisfied with what was happening within the gallery scene and the art community. I wanted to address a broader audience and redirect my practice into something more public. Roberto Del Hoyo (’10)
Suzanne Lacy, the renowned artist, educator, theorist of socially engaged public art and author of the influential Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, directs the Program. As the only program in the region dedicated exclusively to providing artists with advanced skills for working in the public sphere, the program focuses on both collaborative and individual art production.
I came to Otis to work with Suzanne Lacy, after running a non-profit organization in Canada. All of my skills have carried forward but the work has become less about my needing to express personal issues, and more about moving culture forward by providing venues and a platform for dialogues that can result in collective action. What I learned from Suzanne was experiential, focused on fieldwork with many other people. Jules Rochielle Sievert (’09)
Photo by Sandra de la Loza
Entering students design a unique educational plan to fit their interests, with the latitude to experience both community and studio contexts.
It was a real opportunity to create a public event for Andrea Bowers’ important installation about people who died crossing the Mexico Border. We were framed as collaborating artists. Felicia Montes (MFA candidate, ’11)
Public practice—also called participatory art, community art, public art, situational art or social sculpture—can consist of a variety of media including video, performance, drawing, photography, sculpture and web-based projects. Our interdisciplinary students share varied backgrounds as they reinvent traditional media to produce their work. Each participant’s learning plan is developed with faculty advisors who meet regularly to develop a menu of learning opportunities, including classes in studio production, theories of public practice, and field internships. This self-defined curriculum provides opportunities for one-on-one independent studies with artists throughout Los Angeles. In addition, students can take classes within Otis’ graduate programs in writing, fine arts, and graphic design programs, and in other departments as well. The full range of Otis facilities, faculty, courses, and library is available for students’ production.
Otis MFA students lead conversation in Andrea Bowers’ installation at Susanne Veilmetter Projects, 2010.
As an artist in the program, you are able to make it your own. Suzanne asks the right questions, and knows how to develop each student’s interests. Through Public Practice, you have the freedom to define what a community needs. Community members help you understand their needs and wants. When you become part of a partnership with a community, you develop a rich, meaningful collaboration. Michelle Glass (’10)
In their first semester, students start with a collaborative project.
Artists such as Andrea Bowers, S.A. Bachman (THINK AGAIN) and Rick Lowe, lead these projects which conclude with an exhibition or installation. Students travel individually or as a group as part of their curriculum, exploring cultures in diverse locations such as Tijuana, a small farming town in California’s San Joaquin Valley, or hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. They meet and interact with recognized international artists such as Mel Chin, Martha Rosler and Sam Durant, and network with artists, critics, and curators from around the world. Connections formed here—with each other, their teachers, and international artists—support students’ future plans in significant ways.
In the third, students work in a private studio.
On completing the program, students benefit by connections formed during school.
Working in their own Otis studios, students develop individual projects, with studio visits and feedback from faculty members. They have access to all of Otis’ production facilities.
Some remain in the vibrant Los Angeles community, while others travel to develop their work. Students have pursued project management and teaching in Korea, participated in artist-in-residence positions in New Orleans and Chicago, joined art performances in Madrid and New York, and taught throughout Los Angeles. Graduates find work teaching; working in arts management including international projects; participating in residency programs, journalistic reporting, curating, and designing exhibitions.
In their fourth semester, students create and install a public exhibition.
This exhibition, a final showcase of their individual thesis project, along with a publishable text on an aspect of public practice, are the milestones required for graduation. The student leaves with a portfolio, prepared for life as an artist.
As an avid volunteer and advocate for social justice-oriented community service, I brought my prior experiences of working with The Dolores Huerta Foundation and the migrant population in Lamont, California when I applied for this program. I was excited that my experience was relevant to our first-year project in Laton, a small farming town in central California. Nathalie Sanchez (’10)
In their second semester, students begin research on a thesis project.
This project is their major work at Otis. From the beginning, they are encouraged to seek out public opportunities to lecture and exhibit. In the summer, they select a field internship with an artist and experience the installation or exhibition process, gaining professional insights and making professional connections.
I took Rachel Rosenthal’s DBD (Doing by Doing ) workshop. It was an amazing experience working with one of the best artists in the field! This individualized experience is a unique feature of the program, and why I chose it. Andrea M. Dominguez (’10)
Actions, Conversations, and Intersections, Install with Suzanne Lacy at Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, 2010 Photo by Raul Vega
“It was great to see how the rubber meets the
road with all the different guests that came in. We asked, “Can you help me sort this out? I am really interested in this but I have no idea if it is going to work.” We got to hang out with Urban Rangers, and with the curator of Documenta 11, Okwui Enwezor; a professional grant writer did workshops, and we went to Tijuana with Jennifer Flores Sterndad and Teddy Cruz.
Andrew Manoushagian (’09)
Public Practice Faculty
“Andrea Bowers pushed me to
move beyond two-dimensional media into three-dimensional forms and installations. Her current project in Utah touched me personally, since I have been a sponsored rock climber in the area and know the remote terrain well. I served as a guide for her project inspired by Tim DeChristopher, also known as Bidder 70, who falsely bid on land parcels in a BLM auction and was tried for civil disobedience. David Russell (MFA candidate, ’11)
Suzanne Lacy Chair MFA, Cal Arts; BA, UC Santa Barbara Internationally exhibited artist with contributions to feminist, performance, and public art. Author, Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art and Leaving Art: Performance, Politics and Publics. Focused on taking art out of the gallery and into the world to engage new audiences and galvanize a public discussion about race, poverty, and social justice. S.A. Bachman Senior Lecturer MFA, Tyler School of Art; BFA, Arizona State Univ. Socially engaged artist, educator and Co-Founder of THINK AGAIN collaborative. Her photo-text works investigate conformity, hegemony and sexism. THINK AGAIN recruits art in the service of public address and interrogates undocumented labor, queer memory, political brutality, and media-culture. Co-Author: A Brief History of Outrage. Andrea Bowers Senior Lecturer MFA, Cal Arts; BFA, Bowling Green State Univ. Exploring the intersection between political activism and art, focuses on the role of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience in the lives of women. Using photorealist drawings, videos, and/or performance, contextualizes historical events (such as the struggle for reproductive rights) in relation to the overall contemporary situation.
Krista Caballero Lecturer MFA, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; BA, Westmont College New media artist and sculptor exploring alternative ecological and social landscapes. Her current project, “MAPPING MEANING,” brings together artists, scientists and scholars to engage topics of the environment through interdisciplinary exchange. Sara Daleiden Lecturer MPAS, University of Southern California; BA, Univ. Notre Dame Artist, educator and organizer focusing on participant experience through identity systems and interpretive services. Core member of Los Angeles Urban Rangers with projects at International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Museum de Paviljoens, and self-initiated “Public Access 101” series in Malibu and Downtown Los Angeles. Dana Duff Professor MFA, Cal Arts; BFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art Filmmaker and sculptor. Films shown at International Film Festival Rotterdam and Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement, Geneva. Lives and works in L.A. and Mexico. Recent projects include three films on the economic pressures in rural areas in California; Baja, Mexico; and Wisconsin.
Malik Gaines Lecturer Ph.D. Candidate, UCLA; MFA, Cal Arts; BA, UCLA; Writer and performer and cofounder of My Barbarian, performing at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the New Museum, New York; The Power Plant, Toronto; Museo El Eco, Mexico City; De Appel, Amsterdam; El Matadero, Madrid; the Townhouse Gallery, Cairo; and several worldwide biennials. Gaines curates for LAXART and is a published critic. Kate Johnson Adjunct Associate Professor Filmmaker, editor, video and performance artist whose work has been exhibited at Cannes Film Festival, Museum of Modern Art, Institute of Contemporary Art, London. Bill Kelley Jr. Lecturer Ph.D Candidate, UC San Diego; MA, University of New Mexico Educator, independent writer, curator, and theorist who specializes in the globalized and shifting considerations in the fields of Latin American and Latino art. Former director and current Editorial Advisor of the journal LatinArt.com; creator of “Proyecto Cívico: Diálogos y Interrogantes” in Tijuana; and curator for the 2011 Encuentro Internacional de Medellin.
Sandra de la Loza Lecturer MFA, California State Univ. Long Beach; BA, UC Berkeley Founder of the Pocho Research Society (PRS), an on-going collaborative project dedicated to the systematic investigation of place and memory through archival and curatorial projects and public interventions. Works with artists and activists to create spaces for practice and critical dialogue at community centers, conferences and art events including “Transitorio Publico” (2007). Karen Moss Senior Lecturer BA, MA, PhD, University of Southern California Art historian and educator whose curatorial work includes “Disorderly Conduct: Recent Art in Tumultuous Times” at the Orange County Museum of Art, where she has been since 2004. Produces artist projects, exhibitions, and educational public programming. Renee Petropoulos Professor BA, MFA, UCLA Exhibits throughout the U.S and internationally, represented by Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica, including the San Francisco Jewish Museum; Blaffer Museum; Occidental College Weingart Gallery; and Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna. Numerous national public site commissions.
Claude Willey Senior Lecturer BA, Columbia College, Chicago; MFA, UC Irvine Co-coordinator of MOISTURE, a multi-year water research project in the Mojave Desert. Merged ecology, environmental history, renewableenergy technologies, and urban transportation/ landscape history. Consuelo Velasco Montoya Lecturer MA, University of Southern California; BA, UC Santa Cruz Focusing on arts administration, digital media, photography and art in rural contexts, she has worked at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Metro Art where she was extensively involved in the public art component of the Expo Light Rail line. Coordinator of the MFA Public Practice program.
Visitors and Mentors Ala Plastica
Jennifer Flores Sterndad
Edgar Arceneaux Watts House Project
Bronya Galef Mariam Ghani
Karen Mack LA Commons Richard Montoya Culture Clash Nobuho Nagasawa Site InSight, Inc.
Tone Olaf Nielsen Fritz Haeg
Linda Pollack Nav Haq
Jeff Cain Teddy Cruz UC San Diego Matt Coolidge Center for Land Use Interpretation
I worked with Kim Abeles who taught me that if you have an idea, you can accomplish anything with help from people whom we can ask, “I need to weld this thing. I have this idea for a structure and I don’t know how to build it. Michelle Glass (’10)
Jessica Cusick City of Santa Monica Department of Cultural Affairs Dorit Cypis Foreign Exchanges
Janna Shaddock Hernandez
Ted Purves California College of the Arts
Luis Ituarte Founder, Casa Del Tunnels
Maria Rosario Jackson Urban Institute
Journal of Aesthetics and Protest
Joshua Decter Master in Public Art Studies, University of Southern California
Philipp Kaiser Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Grant Kester Visual Arts Department, UC San Diego
I went to London in 2009 with Mario Ybarra Jr. I painted a frame on one of these tarps, folded it, and took it to London. I thought it would be cool if I could capture some of the graffiti that we export and reimport it to the U.S. to see what that would look like. I installed a tarp close to the London Eye underneath a bridge, where I saw a lot of graffiti but little blank space. After several had been painted, I sent one to San Antonio and Chicago, one to Thailand. Roberto Del Hoyo (‘10)
guest, Claude Willey, a sound “Another artist who is interested in geography, works as artist, activist, and environmentalist. He and other artists are not concerned about defining themselves, and explore the boundaries and overlaps of art and culture, art and life. Paige Tighe (’10)
Carol Stakenas Los Angeles Contemporary Art Exhibitions Jennifer Flores Sterndad Sally Tallant Serpentine Gallery, London Temporary Services
Peter Eleey Walker Art Museum
Linda Vallejo Mario Ybarra Jr.
Olga Koumoundoros Greg Esser Director of Civic Art, Los Angeles County Arts Commission
Tirdad Zolghadr Lucy Lippard Rick Lowe
“When I applied to Public Practice, I really had no idea what to expect, except that, at least in terms of my own expectations, I knew that grad school was a safe place to try new ideas. I had the responsibility to push myself to develop ideas and work that I wouldn’t have been able to do had I not gone to grad school. I have to pay for it. I hate to bring it down to concrete terms like that. I wanted to get my money’s worth, so I felt I needed to get out and do as many different things as possible and talk to people and really push myself. 8
Andrew Manoushagian (’09)
This first semester gave students a firsthand experience of an artist project in the field. Public practice artists must be able to work in communities around the world. It started in Los Angeles, where students interviewed displaced New Orleans residents, and continued with trips to New Orleans. Under the leadership of Transforma—an arts and development project founded in New Orleans by artists Rick Lowe and Sam Durant and Santa Monica Director of Cultural Affairs Jessica Cusick—students partnered with the local Crescent City Peach Alliance who wanted to create a park commemorating civil rights activist Homer Plessy. On June 7, 2007, students worked on the site where Homer Plessy was thrown off the train in 1892 after announcing, in a planned act of civil disobedience, that he was of negro origin. Otis Public Practice students organized Plessy Day to inaugurate a future park, with a local group of muscians and 40 students from The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Students covered improvised chalkboards with their responses to questions that included: “What does it mean for a school to be public?”and, “What are YOU willing to be thrown off the train for?”
New Orleans After the Floods was a hands-on study through which I learned about the importance of schedule, building relationships, and developing community. Even more important to me was the time I spent working on Mel Chin’s Fundred/Paydirt Project, also developed in New Orleans. I worked with Mel building the armored truck, and then I got behind the wheel for five months. Being involved in such a massive project has been a graduate-level education on its own. I drove the truck to over a hundred schools where I spoke with children about the project. It was fascinating to see first-hand how to get people to donate 350,000 drawings toward our goal, and how to do outreach across an entire nation. Tory Tepp (’09)
The little CA town that served as muse... The residents of Laton got to see themselves through the eyes of a dedicated group of (Otis) outsiders, and those outsiders got to see the effect of their work on their adopted town. Susan Emerling for the Los Angeles Times
I met many ethnic groups there from China, Mexico, and Portugal, but I think I might have been the first Korean who stepped into the town of Laton. It wasn’t like the “America” I learned from media and commercials in Korea; I thought I was seeing this culture’s true colors. The teacher and students welcomed me into the high school metal shop, where we designed and built a large welcome sign for the town. I felt like I had arrived. Boseul Kim (’10)
In 2008, Graduate Public Practice students developed a project in California’s San Joaquin Valley, in the small farming town of Laton. With a planning grant from the Ford Foundation, they focused on environmental problems, poverty, the economics of food production, school dropout rates, and rapidly disappearing farmland. Despite this troubled regional picture, Laton presented an opportunity for students to engage with a small town culture rich with mutual support, strong families, and a great sense of civic responsibility.
After several months of field work, students created several different projects on Main Street, including storefront painting, a free store, a new sign/gate to welcome visitors, an evening of musical performance and video installations, freshly painted buildings, a contest and mural with elementary students, and free portraits for over 50 families. Students presented this project in Los Angeles at Farm Lab, at a conference in Portland, Oregon, and at The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park in the exhibition “Actions, Conversations, and Intersections.”
wanted to give something back “Ibecause the community had been so generous with us, cooking us dinner, inviting us into their homes. I asked the hard-working families—farmers, workers, and merchants—to take time out and to sit in an improvised studio with me. Almost 90 family portraits turned into a single Laton Family Portrait. Shatto Light (’10)
The Importance of Culture to Los Angeles Communities (Collaborative Project, 2009)
Love in a Cemetery The group project, Love in a Cemetery, led by L.A. based visual artist Andrea Bowers and curator Robert Sain, partnered students with community organizations from throughout Los Angeles to explore aesthetics, pedagogy, and cultural politics through issues as diverse as gang intervention, teen homelessness, ocean pollution, health care, and prisoner education.
Public Practice, “Instudents address issues that have personal significance, as a way to bring greater understanding to issues. Working in the health care community to address “lack of access” offered the possibility to collectively discuss the repercussions of health care reform, and ways of finding personal agency. Jamie Crooke (MFA candidate, ’11)
The project presented a perspective on art as examination, as investigation into the future of cultural organizations, through projects between students and collaborators sited in the field and represented in an exhibition at the18th Street Arts Center. The gallery became a laboratory and classroom space for civic engagement, experimentation, presentation and discourse. Students created an exhibition in partnership with an organization and two months of extensive programming, from speak-outs to film screenings. Guest speakers and artists included Sally Tallant from the Serpentine Gallery in London, artists Rick Lowe and Martha Rosler, guest artist Olga Koumoundouros, spokespersons from collaborating partners, and representatives of Los Angeles’ major cultural organizations. The exhibit was featured in the Los Angeles Times.
I would like to highlight the professors that have made the biggest impact on my own practice. Rick Lowe and Abdelali Dahrouch taught me how to understand and analyze the relationships that develop through this kind of art practice. Another professor, Bill Kelley Jr., who is a theorist, philosopher, and art historian, has helped me understand the function of art and the aesthetic experience, and how it can make a positive impact on society, Andrea Bowers showed me how to get things done. As a producer, she has helped me conceptualize my artwork based on social and political issues, and turn it into a physical form that can be represented in the art world. David Russell (MFA candidate, ’11)
Original “Free Alex” graphic and text by Amitis Motevalli
In 2010/2011, MFA Public Practice students worked with artists S.A. Bachman and Krista Caballero to present DISMANTLED, an innovative visual arts collaboration. As students across California faced tuition hikes, emerging artists from Otis participated in an exploration of public education, critical pedagogy, and the privatization of our school system. This statewide project acknowledges California’s unique history while simultaneously questioning what the future holds if our institutions of learning are no longer shaped by the core principles of accessible and affordable education for all.
DISMANTLED employs outdoor projection and performance to frame key issues such as the severe cutbacks in funding, charter schools, students and families burdened by debt, financial aid, and access to education. Highlighting populations the government and media often ignore, DISMANTLED integrates interviews from a cross-section of Californians with provocative visual analysis. In addition, images of blowing bubble gum and superhero school uniforms, along with historical footage from Brown vs The Board of Education are used to raise awareness and incite questions. Audience members can participate in the project’s ongoing interviews as well as contribute to the creation of a site-specific installation. Projection sites serve as gathering spaces for sidewalk conversations and run the gamut from neighborhood store-fronts to museums, colleges and libraries. California educators including Peter McLaren, Gilda Haas, Janna Shaddock Hernandez and Ricardo Dominguez have informed this project.
“ Scan-Tron video animation courtesy of Jen Schmidt
Dismantled opened my eyes to different issues affecting public education in California and how systems of power can block access for all. I learned that taking action is imperative. As an immigrant, I launched my education in a new environment through this project, which introduced new methodologies for teaching. Neda Moridpour (MFA candidate, ’12)
It was important to bring Dismantled to Fresno, CA because of the struggle for public education in the Central Valley. By projecting onto the city’s vacant Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dismantled not only brought this struggle to light, but also called for action from every person on the street. Teresa Flores (MFA candidate, ’12)
Andrew Manoushagian (’09) FREeCOLOGY
I thought of my thesis project as a study of individual, collective, and ecological consciousness for the ironic generation (of which I am a member in good standing).
It was a performance series, photographs, video, and music—all presented with minimal resources. I focused on the Kings River, part of the California Aqueduct System which diverts water during the winter from the San Joaquin Valley to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Someone pushes a button and turns the river off while the San Joaquin Valley farmers complain about drought. I made a raft out of a closet door and clued recycled water bottles to the bottom, then floated down the river when the water was turned on in the spring. This celebration was absolutely ridiculous, but people looked at the river in a different way, which was the goal. FREeCOLOGY continues, using humor, satire and irony. One problem I studied recently was the real estate issue surrounding Mount Lee and the Hollywood sign. The Hollywood Sign Conservancy
had to raise $12.5 million to save the land from being sold to a real estate developer for a hotel. I went around my neighborhood placing 33 little mole hills with miniature Hollywood signs mounted on popsicle sticks. In a graphic campaign for the rights of hula hoopers in Las Vegas, I went around L.A. with a hula hoop and sign, “Hula Hooping with Las Vegas.” Protecting the right to hula hooping seems silly, but when I spoke with passersby, they developed fresh perspectives. In another project, Pedestal & the All-Girl Band, classmates and fellow music enthusiasts Paige Tighe, Hataya Tuptim and I hosted karaoke parties where fifty random people would show up to sing. I built a backpack with a shelf for a boom box, and Paige and Hataya made scrolls with lyrics. At the 18th Street Art Night, attended
I think of ecology not as environmentalism, but as understanding the connections between things. The limitations really made me get creative.
by 1,000 people, 20 complete strangers gathered around us to sing Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” I am a freelance teacher for several non-profits in and around L.A. With Trash for Teaching, I facilitate elementary school student and teacher workshops based on the Three R’s, and take donated recycled materials from factories and manufacturers with our Treasure Truck, a retrofitted van. The students and I make art from these materials, saving abut 250 tons of waste. I’ve also worked for the Wildwoods Foundation after-school program that brings environment and ecology to an urban environment. At the Armory Center for the Arts’ Children Exploring the Environment Program, we take students hiking in nature around L.A., and create art based on the things we see.
Faith Purvey (’10) Bermuda Triangle
Fort Hauser questions architecture. What are the possible uses of public land? Who decides? Who has the right to be where, when, how and why? “Fort Hauser,” on a West L.A. traffic island, appears to be surrounded by three rivers or ocean currents. It inserts a material situation into a public space. Viewers are curious about a giant glowing triangle on a traffic island with people painting inside it. They can play, talk, say hi, ask questions, talk about their neighborhood, and make friends. The nature of L.A. is transient. I’m living inside of that idea of mobility and trying to imagine what ephemeral actions and what activities can take place when people are on the move. I’m looking at different rules of living.
The Bermuda Triangle was a large translucent piece. It was pleasant to be inside it, on a dinky cement traffic island in the middle of a huge intersection. It might be a portal to another universe. People were not comfortable with it but they were fascinated by it, in the same way that they are attracted to UFOs and ghosts. They added their work to the space, memorializing or legitimizing it.
Now I am working with Monica Haller on a show for the San Jose Biennial. It’s a photography selfhistory workshop with Iraq vets. Also, I am talking to Red Moon Theater in Chicago about creating ephemeral public spectacles.
The space is a practiced place. It forms a community out of thin air.
Michelle Glass (’10) The Mobile CROPS Project (Community Resource for Organic Produce and Sustainability)
For my thesis, I developed a partnership with Urban Compass, an after-school enrichment program in Watts, to create a portable garden using recycled green building materials.
The project linked photography, arts education, and arts administration. Access—whether in rural or urban areas, to the arts, to organic produce, or to education—was key. Because much of our farmland is being taken over by housing development, collaborations or artist collectives are working towards sustainability and alternative methods of growing food, and developing innovative ways to bring green spaces to urban areas.
ated woolly pockets from a felt-like material made from recycled soda bottles that both absorbs and releases water. Plants thrived in this garden, and the Mobile Structure became a safe haven or a home or play space. Students could lie on the grass and look up at the sky. Ladybugs, butterflies, and birds started to come. It became a habitat. At LACMA’s Artwalk, students conducted workshops in the structure, teaching visitors to create sorbet from herbs in their gardens. It was such a joy to see them feel empowered.
The Urban Compass is concrete, with no space for a garden. One day, a 5th grade student asked what the red thing on the table was, because he had never eaten a tomato. The students and I cre-
I am now Program Director for Side Street Projects’ Alternative Roots Program, where we use the Armadillo, a FEMA trailer used for housing during Hurricane Katrina that has been converted into a mobile vertical garden. The Pasadena Armory is our test site, where community members learn about alternative methods of growing food.
Ofunne Obiamiwe (’09) Oil Change
My thesis project illuminates state-sanctioned killings and the deleterious effect of decades of oil production in the Niger Delta.
Art can be a powerful tool for awareness, activism and catharsis. The recent BP oil spill has brought oil politics to the forefront of American consciousness. I am currently working with students at Loyola Marymount on a show called “A Purpose of Being.” Using video and interviews, documentaries and discussions, we will bring awareness not only to the BP situation but also to oil-producing communities around the world. My goal is to visit Nigeria and work closely with community leaders and politicians to focus attention on the situation. One of the things I experienced in the MFA program was going into communities respectfully and finding groups that are doing similar things, and bringing them
together to orchestrate a project. In New Orleans and Tijuana, we met people engaged in similar practices and community-based work. I began to understand public practice as dynamic: you can’t just write and plan; you have to act. I recently did a project using Facebook called “The Status of Women,” part of a show called “Harmony Reverberates Optimism,” at Oxnard Community College Gallery. I’ve also been deejaying, which to me is part of relational aesthetics, in Bourriaud’s terms. I also just completed my first short film based on my thesis work.
Paige Tighe (â€˜10) Embodiment
I explored video and public movement to communicate with audiences both in traditional art venues, in the street and on buses. By dancing on buses across Santa Monica, I questioned social codes.
I did not expect that I would be riding buses and dancing when I applied to this program. I expected to learn how to work with people, and to make artwork in a community. I did not expect the freedom to delve into the theory and make it my own, which has been very satisfying. I didnâ€™t expect to join the experimental dance community, which has been a blessing. There is no way
that I could have known what a perfectly magical transformative fit it would be for me personally. I am organizing a Community Dance Series at LACE with classmate Jules Rochielle Sievert. I am also the first curatorial fellow at Otisâ€™ Ben Maltz Gallery, where I am learning about organizing shows in the hope of communicating new ideas.
Can art movements break open oppressive social codes?
I built my first large-scale earthwork, and that did it for me. Earthworks sent me down the road that led to my project.
Tory Tepp (’09) subVERT
Through Public Practice, I experimented with media and materials I had never used before, and foremost among these was dirt. It was about creating a living and growing space that people used and interacted with.
I lived for four years on the L.A. River in Frogtown before entering Otis. The neighborhood is somewhat neglected, cut off by freeways, and overlooked as gentrification has set in. Bordered by the natural riverbeds of Glendale Narrows, this ecosystem combines an astounding beauty with some horrifying truths.
mobile, I pulled derelict shopping carts out of the River, repurposed them, and planted mobile gardens. I staged a May Day Festival, and released them back into the neighborhood where local gardeners sponsor and tend them.
Gradually many truckloads of dirt made their way back to Elysian Valley to become gardens. Forty yards from a concrete bunker, people harvested and shared produce from these flourishing gardens. A new interactive biosystem emerged that included praying mantises and moths. To make the experience portable or
After graduation I got a residency in New Orleans at A Studio in the Woods, in a restored bottomland hardwood forest on the river. The project goal was to tie the ecological landscape to its cultural landscape. My proposal, “Spirit Ferry,” involved a phenomenon called the light gap. During Hurricane Katrina, the tree buffer saved properties from being destroyed. In other
areas, called light gaps, the storm took down trees and allowed new growth. Something older was toppled or something was removed, and new growth sprung forth. The damage that was done became generative. I took this premise for my project. “Spirit Ferry” contained saplings from acorns, pine trees and plants, gardening tools, seeds, and everything needed to fabricate an earthwork or build a garden.
Jules Rochielle Sievert (’09) Portable City
My thesis project has evolved into Public Interest, a yearlong initiative and residency at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE).
Its mission is to convene different publics to reinvigorate LACE’s social space. I organized “Networks and Hubs,” 70 conversations about the variety of different forms of social practice in the local community and Tijuana. For the project “Cafe Du Monde: Serving Up a Dialogue in Downtown Los Angeles” we had live music, pedestrians, and residents engaged in conversations that linked New Orleans to L.A. in terms of housing, dislocation, racism, and development. Participants chalked responses onto the architecture in a sanctioned activity of free expression in public space. The “waitstaff” hosted over 1,000 people that evening. Classmate Paige Tighe and I coprogrammed Pie Banquet, a Piece of the Pie Collective, a platform for community dance and movement. At Cal State Dominguez Hills Student Union, we served free homemade pie to students and others, activating a discussion about who deserves how much of
“the pie” in the U.S. “Bill of reckoning” postcards were then sent to congress members, urging them to support pay equity. Recently, I participated in a conference at London’s Hayward Gallery through a connection that Suzanne Lacy made with Sally Tallant, from the Serpentine Gallery, to the Metabolic Studio, where I work with artist Lauren Bon. Later, I was sent to Australia to the Hothouse Conference, and an international dialogue on social arts practices. Following a lecture we gave at the University of New South Wales, faculty members visited L.A. to investigate Metabolic Studio as a case study for community engaged practices for Sustainable Sydney 2030.
Roberto Del Hoyo (’10) and David Russell (MFA candidate, ’11) Mobile Mural Lab
This art practice develops tools to address the L.A. mural ordinance. Roberto Del Hoyo Using mobilized recycled billboard vinyl tarps influenced by advertising, graffiti, and mural-making methodologies, I create alternative wall spaces. These function as a cultural resource to increase social awareness and community empowerment. In one portable mural, I painted an ornate gold frame on a tarp, and installed it to promote interaction. I had seen graffiti in my community but there was little wall space for the young people to express themselves. For the “L.A. to Fresno” Tarp, three art students and I painted half of a tarp with the theme, What is my L.A.? using icons such as a Dodger hat, and the Virgin Mary. We shipped it off to Fresno where young artists created a response.
David Russell Working with Roberto has given me a jumpstart into the L.A. community, and helped me construct the issues I want to address to develop an approach. At Pico Youth and Family Center in Santa Monica, where I live, I do art workshops with large format painting and murals. Last spring, the young people had an urgent political need to ask the Santa Monica City Council to rethink the new Metro Maintenance Yard. Using the large- format visual space on the truck empowered them and got media attention.
“I wasn’t going to Otis to learn how to paint. I did maintain a studio practice, taking sculpture and painting classes, but I was there to learn theoretical approaches to how to engage my public. The Public Practice Program provided me with a more pedagogical approach in how to engage the community in the mural making process.”
Felicia Montes, one of our colleagues in the Program, approached us about mobilizing the Mobile Mural Lab for a protest at Leimert Park. The truck was loaded with spray paint and acrylic paint, and, like ants on sugar, the youth came over. They painted messages such as “Justice For Oscar Grant” and “Stop Police Brutality.” This summer, I went to Korea for the Anyang Public Art Project, which included projects by Suzanne Lacy, Rick Lowe, and Raumlaborberlin. I participated in an open university/free school project in which we analyzed and critiqued Anyang’s public spaces in terms of commercialization, gentrification, and rapid development.
Otis College of Art and Design Graduate Admissions otis.edu/graduate (310) 665 6820 (800) 527 OTIS (6847) Apply Online at otis.edu/applymfa Send Materials to Otis College of Art and Design Attn: Admissions Office 9045 Lincoln Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90045 Questions about the Graduate Public Practice Program otis.edu/gpp firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured photos courtesy of: Candida Ayala Jesse Booth Michelle Glass Shatto Light Ronald Lopez Sandra de la Loza Consuelo Velasco Montoya Ofunne Obiamiwi Faith Purvey Patricia Torres Raul Vega Jennifer Wolf
About the Graduate Public Practice program and projects