How were you introduced to artworxLA? Who connected you to us?
In 1994, I created a project for The HeArt Project with youth at Para Los Ninos in the Skid Row section of downtown Los Angeles. In the first years of the organization, now known as artworxLA, I was immediately drawn to the challenges and importance of bringing art to kids in my neighborhood. Founder Cynthia Campoy Brophy was familiar with my environmental work and in particular, the Smog Collectors with images created from the particulate in the polluted
air. Cynthia asked me to create a project with the students, and we made clocks with images
made in smog on the glass front.
Can you recall a memory you have with our students?
In 1999, I designed a series of related projects with The HeArt Project at Angelus Plaza College Preparatory High School as an Art and Science Program. I taught with poet, Alicia Vogl Saenz, and together we collaborated with the students to create visual and written works about air pollution. Some of the comments made by the students during our discussions influenced the dialogue that I continue to incorporate through environmental workshops and in a recent activity book called Talking Air. The students’ art and writing were exhibited in elaborate display windows next to the Bradbury Building in downtown LA, and also at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena in the exhibition, Pros, and Protégés: Los Angeles Artists and the Youth They Mentor, curated by Jay Belloli and Noel Korten. Work by student artists Patricia Davalos and Emerson Salay is featured in the catalog, and all the students were represented in the
artworxLA has always understood the value of exhibitions and performances presented to the public as meaningful acknowledgments of the creative accomplishments developed by these young individuals. I was so impressed with the students through this project that I hired five of them to work with me the following summer on a large-scale installation called, "Leaf Leap (All the World’s Leaves)" that was exhibited for several years at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati. The museum budget enabled me to pay the students well, and they learned a variety of skills alongside college students whom I also employed. All of us as a team had an unforgettable time being productive in one of the original, rough-cut lofts in downtown LA, and a couple of the students went on to study art in college. Art is, after all, contagious.
What has inspired you to stay connected to us during our 25-year history?
I’ve often expressed to people that artworxLA is the real deal. As a program, the growth and
forward movement of the organization has been completely inspiring in that uplifting sort of
way. I’m always struck by the fact that their projects, developed in collaboration with
professional creatives, really meet the intended goals, and provide frameworks for local youth
to make the arts important for self-confidence and empowerment. The artworxLA programs
push well beyond descriptions on paper and provide artistic experiences with the teens’
involvement as a key element. The arts shake things up and give us all a chance to be part of
shaping our communities. artworxLA has been a model for effective programming to encourage a vital, positive relationship between youth and education.
What does "arts for good" mean to you?
Art is a gift for the maker and the receiver. When a maker teaches someone a skill, there too,
fulfillment is in balance.