Youth artists

Bryan Garcia, 32nd Street USC MAST High School, age 15

It is amazing how the banners ended up looking. After all the time we invested in this project by visiting community restaurants, interviewing the community and editing the images, I realized how special this project is. What we did with our banner was gathering images of life from different perspectives. The different food was fun to explore with everyone in the group. I learned new communication skills through the program.

In the art program I used pictures relating to what the community eats. In the community there are various types of cultures and different types of foods. That is why in class I used pictures that my group and I took to make a design showing all the different types of foods and cultures. For example in the picture I put the Mexican restaurant “Chanos” and another restaurant called “Ocha”. In the design for the banner it will have all these different kinds of foods. Following by some designs that are similar to the churches windows. Together the design will have pictures of different people and different foods that we took inside the designs that are similar to the church’s windows. It was an honor to work with you and everybody in the program.

Melany Santizo, Los Angeles Pierce College, Graduated from Orthopaedic Hospital Medical Magnet High School, age 19

Our banner represents the different cultures that are in our community. We used food as a way to capture the many cultures and their special dishes. Most of the time, food is the best way to understand another culture and also helps in bringing together family and friends.

In our group, we have incorporated the theme of food. Our theme is food because in our community there is a lot of diversity and food is one way of bringing everyone together to experience different taste. Food is universal and there are so many that once you tried a particular dish, people would have a little experience that would want them to learn more.

Astrid Villagran, California State University, Los Angeles, age 23

Living in Los Angeles comes with constant exposure to different cultures. Our main focus was to explore the daily lives of people from the community, discovering along the way that food and tradition has transformed and fused different cultures. Somewhere along the way, we discovered Mexican egg rolls, orange chicken burritos and found that fascinating. Living in a community that is full of rich culture and great food is the perfect environment for food fusion and culture to begin to merge. The media attempts to depict a community that detaches itself from other cultures and ideas when the reality is that we are far more united than we think. The idea of community fascinated our group into exploring a wide variety of color palettes, photographic elements and focused on the importance of human expression.

Lead artist

Tomo Isoyama, born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, now lives and works in Los Angeles, incorporating multi-cultural and cross-cultural perspectives into his visual art. The greater Los Angeles area–the land of immigrants–is the subject matter for his artistic creation for over 12 years. Tomo is most known for large-scale, vibrant photographic works that are often described as the manifestation of cultural diversity in Southern California.

“Around USC, there are number of family run restaurants. These are the places where locals hang out with their friends, families and relatives. During the school semesters, USC students also frequent to these places looking for varieties in “authentic” local food – regardless of their ethnic origin. Restaurants near USC are microcosm of ethnically diverse Southern California, in its most liquid, dynamic and active form.

“In the USC Light Banner Project, Tomo Isoyama and youth artists focused on capturing those fun and positive interactions happening in these restaurants. With cameras in hand, the team drove around and visited the restaurants packed with truly mixed crowd. Several hundred photographs were taken – mouthwatering special dishes, friends and families with smiles, restaurant workers cooking in the kitchen, exterior and interior of the restaurants, etc.

“The design process of the banner involved two simultaneous efforts. One is to select, edit and categorize numerous photographs taken. And the other is to come up with overarching visual scheme that can coherently encompasses the series of collaged photographs on a singular layer of visual experience. The team looked at many different historic designs including Gothic Rose Windows and Mandalas from Tibet and China, and decided on the layout based on the combination of Mandala-like frame and circular geometric patterns – to which photographs from the restaurants are inserted as collaged content. The completed banner design presents itself as a unique orchestration of the pieces of our life around USC – food, friends, family, education and smile – whoever you are.”

banner preview