In the Spring 2018 Fine Art course Socially Engaged Art, taught by Assistant Professor Olga Koumoundouros, Fine Art students collaborated with students from Art Division, a nonprofit organization by Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park dedicated to training and supporting underserved youth committed to studying the visual arts.
Managed by ArtCenter’s social innovation department Designmatters, and with funding by the Mary Pickford Foundation, the course culminates with Decentralized, an April 2018 group exhibition in L.A. of 16 artists working around the theme of displacement. Here, Fine Art student Bryan Ortega and Art Division student and multimedia artist Eve Xelestiál Moreno-Luz write about their Socially Engaged Art project Narratives of Resistance Magazine (NoRM), a collaboration between Ortega, Moreno-Luz and Art Division student Alfredo Alvarado.EVE XELESTIÁL MORENO-LUZ
Creating the Narratives of Resistance Magazine (NoRM) would not have been possible without a dedication to supporting the health of marginalized communities. The NoRM team agreed to focus on a spectrum of identities from a community who reflects us the most: our LGBTQIA+ communities of color. Historically LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and Positive) communities of color have been left disenfranchised. The work of NoRM is to advocate for our visibility through a magazine, exhibition, and, most importantly, paying stipends to artists for their contributions.
The process that went into the production of NoRM was orchestrated by the labor of Alfredo Alvarado, Bryan Ortega and myself, Eve Xelestiál Moreno-Luz. Taking on this socially engaged project with the ArtCenter Fine Art student Bryan Ortega was a critical component to our magazine. The different voices and personal experiences of Ortega, Alvarado and myself made space for an intersectional project combatting multiple issues in our communities.
NoRM featured 21 artists. Two were in the Socially Engaged Art class and four artists from Art Division. Other contributing artists come from all across the state of California, and Michigan. We featured artists from the Universities of California San Diego and Berkeley, an artist from California State University Northridge, and multiple artists from Los Angeles City College. The magazine also featured works of artists from youth organizations such as the Social Justice Sewing Academy and artworxLA.
Creating the first-issue of NoRM Magazine has been, and continues to be, a fulfilling experience. I am fortunate the three of us grouped together as we did. In my experience, the production of this magazine went beyond making it. Working alongside Alfredo and Eve in this project that highlights LGBTQIA+ artists-of-color has introduced me to so many people, like myself, who create work from a close relationship to our identities.
It has been difficult for me, as a Queer Person of Color, to find others who share similar critical politics in regards to things like gentrification, state-sanctioned violence, police brutality, whiteness and systemic oppression; how each of these affect the intersections we inhabit as Queer People-of-Color; and, how the educational institutions we are part of may or may not engage in perpetuating this violence. And although we shared multiple viewpoints and politics, there were many instances where we did not see eye-to-eye. Yet even when we did not, we were still able to empathize and reach a place of understanding.
There was an unspoken commitment by each of us to being considerate of multiple voices, identities and sensitivities. This quality in our group’s dynamic consistently brought openness, understanding and transparent dialogue to the forefront of many aspects of our project. I largely credit this to Eve and Alfredo and their dedication to building space that is all of these things and more. As well as Alexander De Leon, our unofficial fourth member, who provided support at multiple points in this project.
The show Decentralized runs from Thursday, April 12 through Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 936 Mei Ling Way, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Its opening reception is April 12 from 7-10 p.m.