Sports, Science, and Community in our Neighborhood

Youth artists

Jose Ibarra, Y.O.U.A.H.S./ East Los Angeles College, age 18

Jeffrey Juarez, Foshay Learning Center High School, age 15

I put all of my effort into this project and am proud of the way it turned out. Making the designs was challenging however, I had a lot of fun making it.

Amy Miranda, Mt. Saint Mary’s College, age 19

Aranzazu Pena, Manual Arts High School, age 15

Lead artist

Marcela Florez’s drawings and drawing installations are inspired by the practice of ancient mapmakers who appropriate previous maps and other representations of territories to create their own charts. She composes new narratives by collaging travelogue texts and historical images of people, objects, and places that reflect ideas about journey, discovery, and displacement. Her work has been exhibited both in California, and in Colombia, including a solo show at WE ArtSpace in Oakland in 2010 and the SFAI MFA Exhibition in 2009. She has also served as a Lead Artist for several art organizations and non-profit galleries in numerous projects with youth artists in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Museum of Children’s Art and Southern Exposure. Florez earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Universidad de Los Andes, in Bogotá, Colombia, and a Masters of Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she was awarded the 2007-2009 MFA Printmaking Fellowship. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

“My objectives as a mentor artist were to help the young artists understand that they possess many valuable skills and experiences that would allow them to create meaningful pieces of art, and to concretize ideas that they would be able to represent visually with art materials. My approach in achieving these aims was to keep an open conversation with the young artists about their process so that they could reflect on the practice of art, to offer several technical alternatives for expressing those ideas, and to ensure that they understood that trial and error are indispensable parts of the art-making process.

“We began our group dialog by trying to define what aspects of the neighborhood were the most appealing to us. For some of the youths, this was not a familiar exploration; they were not used to talking about the uniqueness of their community. During our weekly workshops, however, they slowly developed a visual vocabulary of the vicinity by interviewing members of the community, including their own family members; participating in local field trips; and sharing memories of their personal experiences. Through this process, the youths discovered the rich history of the neighborhood and developed an interest in several aspects of it. For instance, they gained an interest in women neighbors from throughout the 20th century who were notable professionals; they learned about famous musicians who have been part of the community; they became more aware of architectural and cultural landmarks, such as parks, museums, and sports and community centers, and they developed a greater appreciation for the ways in which their neighbors relate to these spaces.

“After having identified various salient aspects of their neighborhood, the young artists sought to exhibit these features through their art, creating pieces that were inviting and that stimulated curiosity. While we experimented with a variety of materials in the workshops, the group finally chose to use watercolor pencils, ink, and markers on watercolor paper and tracing paper to execute the project. We also incorporated maps and photographs as collage materials. At the final stage, I used Photoshop to finish and enhance their sketches digitally. The resulting images combine historical documents, like maps and drawings from old photographs, with more experiential aspects such as parks, the Exposition Park Rose Garden, landmarks that the youths see on their way home, and other places meaningful to them, in ways that express the young artists’ desire to show residents and visitors alike that the community offers many experiences worth enjoying.”

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