Episode 31: Architecture students "make values visible” through design

Students at the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design are proposing a hypothetical center where principles of AEDI – anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion – are put into action.

"I think what we're trying to do is a paradigm shift away from a distant, automated, estranging kind of environment where people are bureaucratized, into something way more engaging,” said Mohamed Sharif, the faculty member who is heading the design studio for the master of architecture program students.

In this episode, Sharif and several students talk about putting AEDI principles, as well as sustainability and accessibility, at the forefront of building design. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 30: Verlena Johnson: Painting love, Blackness and divinity

Verlena Johnson is a student affairs officer in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA. But she’s also a multi-media visual artist with a published children’s book and a series of paintings that pay homage to LGBTQ African American icons.

She talks to the UCLA Arts podcast "Works In Progress" about the themes of race, gender, sexuality, and divinity in her paintings; how she maintains her creative practice during the pandemic; and how to promote diversity in academia. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 29: Turning the lens to the architecture of Paul R. Williams

Photographer Janna Ireland is known for portraits of family and friends that explore domesticity and Black life. But she has devoted the last four years to driving the streets of Los Angeles, seeking out some of the more than 3,000 projects designed by barrier-breaking Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams.

The result: her critically praised collection of photographs “Regarding Paul R. Williams: A Photographer’s View” (Angel City Press). The book features 280 of Ireland’s black-and-white images that evoke moody interiors and exterior landscapes, with long shadows stretching over curving staircases and archways, showing the architect’s mastery of proportion and composition and his lasting impact on Los Angeles.

Ireland spoke to the UCLA Arts podcast "Works In Progress" about the project and the unique details that she found in the architect's work. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 28: A gallerist in Georgia brings UCLA alumni work together

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a handful of galleries in downtown LA’s Chinatown neighborhood opened amid souvenir shops and restaurants. With names adopted from previous businesses, China Art Objects and Black Dragon Society showed work by UCLA art students and became hubs of a burgeoning art scene. A DIY-inspired community of artists threw parties and staged concerts while selling their work at dirt-cheap prices, with some finding unexpected success.

The salon-style exhibition "Via Café" relives that heady time, bringing together work from about three-dozen old friends and UCLA alumni in a gallery in a small town outside Athens, Georgia. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 27: Searching for the LA-based pioneers of internet art

Internet art is a broad term for the work of artists who use the internet as their canvas. Think of Flash animation, psychedelic glitch art, computer-generated art, GIFs, and many other examples. The internet has been around for five decades now, and internet art is falling victim to broken links, expired domains, and unsupported file types.

"I believe we're in a crisis right now, where so much work is disappearing and will never be seen again. We want to be in communication with these artists while they're still with us,” said Casey Reas, co-founder of the UCLA Arts Conditional Studio with Lauren Lee McCarthy and Chandler McWilliams, all professors in the Department of Design Media Arts.

The UCLA Arts Conditional Studio is launching an initiative to collect internet art made by LA-based artists and preserve it for future generations. “Art and the Internet in LA 1969+” will explore the history of artists in Los Angeles who have worked with, responded to, and transformed the internet.

Their beginning point is November 21, 1969, when UCLA professor Leonard Kleinrock established the first permanent ARPANET link from his laboratory to Stanford University. It continues through the emergence of the World Wide Web to the ubiquitous influence of the internet today. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 26: Rodney McMillian: "The act of surviving is enough"

UCLA Department of Art Professor Rodney McMillian's practice embodies a wide range of media and technique, and often confronts racial and socioeconomic injustice. McMillian’s most recent show at Vielmetter Los Angeles, "Body Politic," explores the body’s symbolic meaning and the relationship between politics and aesthetics.

It included sculptural works depicting body parts made of chicken wire and black fabric. Vividly-colored drawings used mixed media and text to narrate a history of the violence against Black bodies in the names of science and slavery.

“There needs to be a deep rooting out – of the racism, of the inequalities, of the brutality – that is plaguing this land," McMillian said.

In this interview with the UCLA Arts podcast Works In Progress, McMillian discusses this nation's racial reckoning, his use of color and materials, and how music and science fiction inspire his work. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 25: "The Embrace" is a different kind of memorial

This week, pro-Trump supporters marched through Washington D.C. and stormed the Capitol building, just as Congress was meeting to formally certify the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The insurrection left five people dead and a world in shock. Many are asking, is this what America has become?

The attack also comes the same week that Tucson, Arizona is marking the ten-year anniversary of a shooting rampage outside a supermarket that killed six people and injured thirteen, including then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The attack took place at a “Congress on the Corner” event, days after Rep. Giffords had won a contentious re-election race.

Today, a permanent memorial to honor the victims and survivors of the Jan. 8, 2011 attack was dedicated in a small ceremony. Rebeca Méndez, professor and chair of the Department of Design Media Arts, worked with the architecture firm Chee Salette to design that memorial.

The memorial, called "The Embrace," includes a series of symbols that Méndez and a team of UCLA students created to depict the victims, survivors and first responders, and to tell a larger history of Tucson and southern Arizona. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 24: Anna Spain Bradley: Creating a more inclusive university

How does one create a more equitable learning environment? Anna Spain Bradley, UCLA’s new vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, has been thinking a lot about this question. Despite the political polarization of our time, Spain Bradley – a scholar of international law, global racism and human rights – says it’s imperative that we sit down and have conversations with people we disagree with.

"If people communicate and we look at each other and see each other and value each other, it's not easy, but it's worthwhile, and it can lead to creating solutions that didn't exist before," she said.

Spain Bradley sat down with the host of UCLA Arts’ podcast “Works In Progress” for a broad ranging conversation that touched on the events in her own life that led her to the field of international dispute resolution, and how she’s applying those experiences at UCLA. She’ll also be a panelist for the final session in this year’s “10 Questions: Reckoning” discussion series, on Monday, Dec. 7, responding to the question “What Matters?” More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 23: Sharon Hayes: Words of love and protest

Sharon Hayes makes video, performance and installation art that tackles complex questions about history, politics and speech. Her work is staged on the street, in living rooms, and in museums and galleries. She incorporates historical texts and her own writing into her work. She might involve strangers, activists, and fellow artists as performers.

Hayes was born in Baltimore and came of age in a community of queer artists and activists in New York's East Village in the early '90s, where she drew inspiration from feminism and AIDS activism. She received her MFA from UCLA and now teaches in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Fine Arts.

In this episode of the UCLA Arts podcast "Works In Progress," Hayes discusses the form love takes in the personal, private, public and political spheres. She’ll also explore that theme on Monday, Nov. 30 in the UCLA Arts-led “10 Questions” public discussion "What Is Love?” More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 22: Jenna Caravello: Digital avatars and virtual spaces

Jenna Caravello makes mind-bending video games, interactive installations and animated short films that use symbolism and metaphor to ask profound questions about memory, loss, and meaning.

Caravello is an assistant professor in the Department of Design Media Arts. And she'll respond to the question “What Is Loss?” as part of the UCLA Arts series “10 Questions: Reckoning,” which brings UCLA faculty from across campus together to examine ten essential questions.

In this episode of the UCLA Arts podcast “Works In Progress,” Caravello talks about creating digital avatars, storytelling in virtual spaces, and what inspires her, from ‘90s video games and “Akira” to European and Soviet animators. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 21: Neil Garg: Having fun with organic chemistry

Few things strike fear into the hearts of college students like the words “organic chemistry." Neil Garg, a distinguished professor and the Kenneth N. Trueblood Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry, wants his students to get creative and enjoy learning. His undergraduate class has been one of UCLA’s most popular classes, and he uses a range of innovative and out-of-the-box teaching methods to make what can be a very dry topic more fun and engaging.

Garg will respond to the question “What Is Humor?” as part of the multidisciplinary discussion series “10 Questions.” In this episode of the UCLA Arts podcast “Works In Progress,” Garg speaks about his passion for education and about using humor to get students excited about chemistry. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 20: Kian Goh: Urban resilience and climate justice

As cities adapt to climate change, how should urban planning decisions be made? And who gets to make them?

Kian Goh is an urban studies and climate justice scholar, and an architect. She's also an assistant professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Goh’s recent research has focused on three cities – Jakarta, Rotterdam and New York – and the pressures – from public officials, community activists or outside bodies – that determine cities’ responses to a warming planet.

Goh will talk about resilience as part of the UCLA Arts series “10 Questions: Reckoning,” which brings UCLA faculty from across campus together to examine ten essential questions.

She spoke to the UCLA Arts podcast “Works In Progress” about the power structures that dictate how cities respond to climate change. More here (opens in new window)...

Episode 19: Ramesh Srinivasan: Reclaiming our technology

Social media, like most technologies, is a double-edged sword. It can shrink distance but it can also manipulate our behavior and help disinformation spread like wildfire. It can help us feel connected, but keeps us doom scrolling well past our bedtimes. Ramesh Srinivasan suggests other possibilities in his latest book, “Beyond the Valley: How Innovators around the World are Overcoming Inequality and Creating the Technologies of Tomorrow.”

Srinivasan is a Professor in the UCLA Department of Information Studies and Director of the UC Digital Cultures Lab. He was an advisor to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and to the Biden/Harris campaign. And he’s a panelist for the UCLA Arts discussion series “10 Questions: Reckoning” on Nov. 2, responding to the question, “What Is Hope?” In this interview with "Works In Progress," he looks at efforts around the world and in the U.S. to reclaim technology to serve people’s needs, and not unaccountable corporate interests. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 18: Kristy Edmunds: Creating community through performing arts

What is the role of the performing arts, while theaters sit empty and large gatherings are banned? That question has been at the forefront for artist and curator Kristy Edmunds. She’s the executive and artistic director of UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance. The public arts organization has been "using every tool at our disposal to find ways to carry things forward [and] migrate what resources we have directly to artists.”

Edmunds will be a panelist at the next “UCLA 10 Questions: Reckoning” event on Oct. 26, responding to the question “What Is Kindness?" For this episode of "Works In Progress," she discusses kindness in her work, and the challenges facing CAP UCLA and other performing arts centers during this period of extreme uncertainty. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 17: Chon Noriega: Chicano art and power

Chon Noriega’s interests are wide-ranging, including cinema and television, new media, arts curation, and health policy. He is dedicated to “research that makes a difference" for the community. 

Noriega is a professor in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Since 2002 he’s served as the director of the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA. 

He’ll join a panel of UCLA faculty to explore the question “What Is Power?” as part of 10 Questions: Reckoning, the live arts-driven discussion series that tackles complex, essential topics of our time. On this episode of "Works In Progress," Noriega explores faith and community activism; Latinx representation in museums; and health disparities in communities of color. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 16: Erin Christovale: Black Radical Imagination

Museums are experiencing a cultural reckoning over race, identity and historical legacy. Black arts workers have been central in calling on museums to be more inclusive of the communities they serve. 

Erin Christovale, associate curator at the Hammer Museum, focuses on experimental moving images and visual art. She has helped give emerging Black artists the infrastructural support they need to advance their careers. 

In this episode of "Works In Progress," Christovale talks about the changing role of the museum in the Black Lives Matter era; why Afrofuturism is relevant today; and the topic of justice, which she’ll be exploring as part of the UCLA event series “10 Questions: Reckoning.” More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 15: Ann Carlson: The Symphonic Body

The interdisciplinary artist and choreographer Ann Carlson views dance as any conscious movement in time and space. That expansive definition has led her to work with a wide range of participants – lawyers, basketball players, nuns, fly fishermen, college administrators, and a variety of animals – to turn their unconscious gestures into choreographed movements.  

She first arrived at UCLA in 2015 when the Center for the Art of Performance commissioned her to orchestrate a dance, part of a body of work she calls The Symphonic Body, and stayed on as a teacher in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance.  

She spoke to "Works In Progress" about her journey to developing her unorthodox approach to dance, her process of creating these large-scale works, and the idea of presence, a topic she’ll be exploring as part of “10 Questions: Reckoning,” the arts-driven initiative that brings UCLA faculty from across campus together to examine ten essential questions. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 14: Victoria Marks: Choreographing conversation

Conversations feel especially fraught in this time of political and social division. Choreographer, filmmaker, scholar, and activist Victoria Marks has made a career of orchestrating dances for people one normally wouldn’t see on stage – mothers and daughters, elderly men, combat veterans – for what she calls “action conversations.” 

In this episode, Marks, the associate dean of academic affairs for the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture and a professor of choreography in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, reflects on the importance of leading by listening; the ‘10 Questions’ event series she co-curates with an arts-led multi-disciplinary approach to exploring essential questions; and how she is making dance in a time of physical distancing.  More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 13: Is PartyLine the antidote to Zoom fatigue?

Just after we began physical distancing, Jake Matatyaou had an idea: what if every week there was a phone number strangers could call to talk to each other?

"One of the main things that we wanted to achieve was to interrupt or break free from the relentless image economy that we're constantly circulating in," said Matatyaou, a lecturer in the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design, as well as a designer and writer. "Returning to the human voice was something that was really important to us in coming up with this PartyLine."

Matatyaou spoke to "Works In Progress" about starting PartyLine. He also discussed his interest in slower modes of work ("I'm a big fan of idleness and promote it wherever I can"), and he shared his experience with teaching and working remotely, something he was already very familiar with. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 12: Kevin Kane: Making art in the virtual classroom

Two months have passed since the start of “safer at home” and the transition to remote learning. We are still struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy as the novel coronavirus upends much of what seemed normal.

So, imagine being a teacher, in a Zoom class, helping your students try to address or process the anxiety and uncertainty while still teaching the subject of the class.

In this episode, Kevin Kane, director of the UCLA Visual and Performing Arts Education program, also known as VAPAE, reflects on teaching art to high school and college students during a pandemic, and the role arts education played in his own coming of age. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 11: Rebeca Méndez: Changing behavior with art and design

In the midst of global crisis, how can art and design change our behavior and beliefs?

"I feel that that is a key aspect of my design and my art practice: what can I say that can make you a better human being?"

In this episode of "Works In Progress," Rebeca Méndez — artist, designer, and professor in the department of Design Media Arts at UCLA — discusses how her formative life experiences shaped her artistic practice. From family vacations to explore jungle ruins in her home country of Mexico, to being a young gymnast on Mexico's Olympic team who couldn't compete after Mexico withdrew from the games in protest, to being raised by chemical engineers who instilled in her a scientific rigor and love of research that informs her approach to art and design. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 10: How we are teaching now

UCLA Arts faculty and adjuncts had to quickly rethink their courses to be taught online because of the novel coronavirus and the UCLA campus closure.

Candice Lin (ceramics), Casey Reas (software design), Gracie Whyte (dance) and Julia Koerner (building construction) teach in the four departments that make up the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, and they spoke about how they're overcoming the challenges of remote learning. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 9: Learning under quarantine

At UCLA right now, one would normally be hearing the robust exchange of ideas in studios and classrooms, sawing and drilling from the fabrication labs, the hum and whir of 3D printers and CNC machines, the spinning of ceramics wheels, feet hitting a dance floor.

But as we all know, that’s not happening. Learning has continued, but it’s changed.

Here, UCLA Arts students share how they are handling the transition from their pre-pandemic studio environments to remote learning. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 8: David Shorter: Ancient approaches to healing

Healing practices vary across time and culture. Much of that knowledge has been lost to cultural extinction, but a decades-long effort to save and catalog that information has resulted in The Archive of Healing, the largest database of medicinal folklore from around the world.

Dr. David Shorter, a professor in the department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA and the current director of the archive, is set to publish a curated version of the archive later this year.

He spoke to “Works In Progress” about traditional healing practices that can benefit us, especially in a time of widespread sickness and anxiety. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 7: Christina Novakov-Ritchey: Melting the fear

The novel coronavirus pandemic, like every disease, has shown the stark divides in health care access in this country. Those most likely to get sick are the poor, people of color, and people with pre-existing health conditions.

Alongside modern medicine – the hospitals, doctors and nurses – are more traditional practices of healing. Think of performative rituals that come from Africa, from Haiti, from Latin America and elsewhere. These practices are not peer-reviewed in scientific journals. But they are forms of indigenous knowledge that date back thousands of years, and they take into account the overall wellness of the individual and the community.

Christina Novakov-Ritchey studies folk practices of peasants and villagers in the Balkans. That’s the area of Southeastern and Central Europe where Yugoslavia was until it broke up in the early 1990s. She is a doctoral candidate in the World Arts and Cultures Dance department at UCLA, and spoke to “Works In Progress” about the traditional healing practice of bajanje. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 6: David Gere: Making dances in an epidemic

Artists took to the streets to protest government inaction in response to the AIDS crisis. What lessons can a new generation apply to COVID-19?

"Works In Progress" talks to David Gere, a professor in the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and the director of the UCLA Art and Global Health Center. His center sponsors the UCLA Sex Squad -- a theater troupe that teaches young people about sexual health through music, dance and spoken word -- and organized the recent photographic exhibition "Through Positive Eyes" at the Fowler Museum.

Gere moved to San Francisco in 1985 to be a dance critic, and he wrote about theatrical dances and the "choreography of activism" in response to the AIDS crisis in his 2004 book "How to Make Dances in an Epidemic: Tracking Choreography in the Age of AIDS.” More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 5: Dana Cuff: Rethinking home, office and the city

The city of Los Angeles feels very different than usual. Gone are the large crowds and traffic jams. The trains and buses are mostly empty, as the world has shrunk to the size of our homes and neighborhoods.

Will everything go back to normal once the pandemic is over? Or will we forever move through the city differently? And how might the home change as it replaces the office for many of us, at least for now?

For more on the physical changes that might result from COVID-19, we reached out to Dana Cuff, a professor in the Architecture and Urban Design department at UCLA and the founding director of CityLab, a research center at UCLA that explores urban possibilities through experimental projects. She also co-authored the new book "Urban Humanities: New Practices for Reimagining the City." More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 4: Willem Henri Lucas: Voyage around my room

Willem Henri Lucas is a professor in the Design Media Arts department at UCLA. These days he’s in Zoom meetings and classes a lot, catching glimpses into other people’s homes and private lives.

As a consummate collector, he's fascinated with the objects people collect and display in their homes. His downtown LA loft is filled with art, books, masks and other trinkets that he bought at flea markets on his foreign trips.

"What I'm interested in still is what home actually means. In the times that I've moved, I realized it was not just the space that you're in, like the actual building or the actual surrounding, that it's memories and that it's things," Lucas said.

More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 3: Catherine Opie: In and around home

Home and domesticity have been themes of artist and photographer Catherine Opie's work for a long time. She made portraits of lesbians and their families in the series “Domestic,” captured scenes of family and community in the series “In and Around Home,” photographed Elizabeth Taylor’s home and possessions in “700 Nimes Road,” and in her recent series “The Modernist,” her friend and longtime subject Pig Pen appears to be running around LA and setting fire to famous modernist homes designed by John Lautner.

Opie spoke to "Works In Progress" about her explorations of home, and what being at home means to her now. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 2: ‘Tough times never last’: Ladysmith Black Mambazo at UCLA

As performance venues across the country were shutting their doors to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance decided that the show must go on. On March 16 Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Grammy Award-winning South African choral group, delivered an incredible performance to an empty Royce Hall auditorium. This is the story of that concert. More here... (opens in new window)

Episode 1: Peter Sellars on the role of art in times of crisis

What role should the arts have in the coronavirus pandemic? Peter Sellars is a theater director, MacArthur Fellow, and distinguished professor at UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, where he’s taught since 1988. His work is often described as controversial and edgy, and he's known for staging traditional operas in radically different settings that offer contemporary messages. He describes his hopes for a global transformation as people slow down, take on climate change, and artists and theater makers adapt to "safer at home."

Episode 0: Introducing Works In Progress

When times are challenging, how can the arts help us find our way forward? "Works In Progress" is a project of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, a forward-looking interdisciplinary center for creativity and scholarship. We’ll look at current topics and trends through the lens of art, architecture and design, and explore the ideas and practices of UCLA’s faculty, staff, students and alumni.

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