The course Welcome to L.A.: Cultural, Civic, and Community Practices in the City of Dreams, offered throught the Cultural Studies Program at Claremont Graduate University, encouraged students to rethink published and mythical imaginings on the City of Los Angeles and examine through the course materials how Los Angeles as a subject provides a rich source of study. Throughout the semester, the students developed their own cultural mappings that inspired their approach on how they organized, curated, and programmed the public events for the exhibition. Through brainstorming sessions they agreed to present four lines of inquiries that served as themes: bodies, borders, communities, and migration and how do we navigate L.A. Navigating L.A.: bodies, borders, communities, and migration, is housed at the studio for Southern California History through June 23, 2011.
Throughout the seminar, students read works by Gloria Enedina Alvarez, Eric Avila Meiling Cheng, Karen Mary Davalos, William Deverell, Sesshu Foster, Harry Gamboa, Jr., David James, Normal Klein, Anthony Macias, Marisela Norte, Renato Rosald, Sarah Schrank, David Widener, Victor Viesca Raúl Homero Villa, Helena Maria Viramontes, and Karen Tei Yamashita. Among the guest lecturers was Professor David James, film scholar and expert on avant-garde film produced in Los Angeles, who generously shared his time with us for a special presentation at the Studio for Southern California History in March. Also, Darren J. de Leon, cultural worker, poet and former manager of the Youth Arts Workshop housed at Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, Raquel Gutierrez writer and founding member of Butchlalis de Panochtitlan, Otoño Lujan, former Executive Director of Side Street Projects, Adrian Rivas, founder of G727 in Los Angeles, and Sandy Rodriguez, arts educator for the Getty Museum, all helped the students conceptualize the various components of the exhibition and shared their own histories and creative practices with Los Angeles.
Were it not for the enthusiasm of Sharon Sekhon who encouraged the idea of collaborating between CGU students and the Studio for Southern California History this exhibition would not be a reality. The Studio's premise of offering a variety of models by which to understand the complex and rich regional history has motivated the students to think outside the box. The exhibition design and interactive elements reflect the spirit of the Studio's participatory praxis of writing one's history. The exhibition is also supported in part by the Friedman Grant, the School of Arts and Humanities at Claremont Graduate University, and The Studio for Southern California History.
The exhibition features a range of works that highlight art collectives such as Regeneración formerly based in Highland park during the 1990s and the Mobile Mural lab established since 2002 that "connects with a variety of communities including : (visual artists, graffiti artists, youth based organizations, urban planners, and performers) by means of social networking and visibility within the public realm." The writing of Leo Politi is highlighted through a series of children's books that focus on Bunker Hill on loan by the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books. Other artworks by Antonio Garcia, The Pocho Research Society, Sandy Rodriguez, and art books by Ed Ruscha and Edgar Arceneaux are a few highlights included in the exhibition. The students have also produced an on-line exhibition catalogue with essays discussing more in-depth the exhibition themes and select artworks (www.socalstudio.org). There is also a recording installation and chalk board where we encourage you to share how you 'navigate L.A.' We invite you all to navigate the City of Angels with us and return again to the other programmed events.