By Education & Media Intern, Vanessa Chung
As I mentioned in my Arts Summit Blog from a few weeks ago, a component of the Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Internship is the Learning Community Hub. These hubs are learning communities made up of ten to twenty interns who are all based in similar locations within the city. Our Learning Hub was able to take two site visits together; our hub leader Gaby thoughtfully coordinated our meetings into two themes: artists’ practices and residencies, and artist-directed spaces that tie into larger cultural institutions.
Our first outing started with a visit to the 18th Street Arts Center, where we jumped right into Miha Štrukelj’s live-in studio. 18th Street Arts is a residency program in Santa Monica that supports artists in “provoking public dialogue through contemporary art.” We started our site visit by meeting Miha in his second residency with the organization. He spoke on his visual arts practice and his current focus on site-specific installations. Afterwards, we went to see other 18th Street Center artists and their spaces. The artist Brendan Fernandes shared his artwork, which I found especially relevant to our group of multicultural interns. He spoke on the societal habit of “monolithing cultures” for convenience and his interest in understanding the spaces he creates in and how these environments engage his work.
We continued our day with lunch in Santa Monica, where we struggled, but ultimately succeeded, to find a way to seat all seventeen of us at one table. Lunch was spent getting to know the other interns and their internship sites, and I was able to talk to my supervisor about P.S. ARTS and her role in a more casual setting.
The site visits continued at the beautiful Villa Aurora, where we learned the history of the space, which was the former home of German-Jewish author Lion Feuchtwanger. We explored the campus, the home of over 20,000 books and an abundance of fruit trees and herb gardens. Villa Aurora was a unique look into artist residencies and the histories behind establishing such institutions.
We ended our first hub at the Eames House. I had visited the site before with a studio class and had created plein air drawings with my peers. For this visit, we wandered around Charles and Ray’s home and studio and had a look into their art-making space. As an artist, it was extremely helpful to find these new perspectives on artists’ practices through visiting each of the artist residencies and studios.
Almost a month after our first hub meeting, we reconvened at the Wende Museum for our second Learning Community Hub. This meeting focused on art spaces that are connected to larger cultural institutions. Our first site was aptly named after the German word “wende,” which translates to “transformation.” The Cold War museum highlighted the changes after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. At the Wende, we toured the various exhibition spaces and engaged in conversations led by one of our own hub members Martin, who is the Multicultural Undergraduate Intern at the museum. I enjoyed looking through the museum’s main collection vault and seeing the extensive collection of Cold War-era artwork, clothing, and propaganda.
We continued our day at the Watts Towers Art Center, where various artists-in-residence led us through the galleries, the towers, and the gardens. I had been meaning to visit the historic complex for several years, and engaging with the space with my learning community was a meaningful experience. We learned about how the artist, Simon Rodia, built the towers and how they became a significant community fixture. The staff was extremely caring on our visit, giving us handmade bags filled with gifts and allowing us to take a succulent from the garden on our way out. It was obvious that the city of Watts has fostered a space of passion and mindfulness, and it was special to learn about the role of this art space in the community.
After lunch, we went to Art and Practice in Leimert Park. We walked through Alex Da Corte’s exhibit and toured the future A+P campus. I learned about artist and founder Mark Bradford’s intention to bring an art space into Leimert Park and the Hammer Museum’s contribution. Through a Public Engagement Partnership, the Hammer Museum organizes and curates various exhibitions and programs for the A+P spaces. It was interesting to hear how A+P plans to expand through Leimert Park and their goals to reach into the neighborhood by supporting foster youth. Learning about these art spaces throughout Los Angeles and understanding how these organizations contribute to their communities made me realize how much more I wanted to be a part of such institutions and devote my practice and skills to providing more accessible and approachable art-making spaces.
We concluded our site visit at the Underground Museum, the collaboration between the Museum of Contemporary Art and the late artist Noah Davis. The museum’s helpful staff shared the story of how the museum was founded by Davis using MOCA’s collection to create a space dedicated to exhibitions, events, dialogues, and collaborations. When Davis learned of his cancer, he began planning all of the Underground Museum’s shows to be presented after his passing. The show on view, titled Non-Fiction, is the second show from the collaboration and brings together artworks by eight black artists to speak on the violence against black lives. It was a powerful and poetic show that sparked a dialogue on our experience as interns in a multicultural program. We sat in the Museum’s Purple Garden and conversed about our roles in our immediate and larger communities and how our two site visits revealed the opportunities and challenges that we will face in pursuing careers in the art world. As I approach my last couple weeks at P.S. ARTS, I am absolutely anxious to find my path as a recent graduate, but inspired and excited by the work I have encountered and witnessed.