Journeys | Recorridos

Charles White Elementary School Gallery
December 12, 2008–February 26, 2010

As part of Art Programs with the Community: LACMA On-site, LACMA commissioned London-based artist Marysa Dowling to work with students to explore their neighborhoods, the journeys they make on a regular basis, and how they choose to express themselves. Starting this past spring, students from Charles White Elementary School, Berendo Middle School, and Irving Middle School participated in discussions, art workshops, and journeys through their schools and neighborhoods. A collection of images and text—both from the students and from Dowling—is displayed at the Charles White Elementary School art gallery. A space for artmaking is also part of the exhibition.

Throughout the process, the students' individual choices were crucial: what routes to explore, what images and objects to collect, how to be photographed, and who else to invite to be included in the project. Tracing the movements of people throughout Los Angeles, the works become collective portraits of the schools and neighborhoods.

An everyday object—a blue plastic bag—became a consistent part of Dowling's portraits. She chose to use this common object because it can be changed by the sitters as a way for them to communicate something about themselves for the camera. It is how the people who were photographed used the bag to express their own personality, and in locations of their choice, that is of interest to the artist.

LACMA launched Art Programs with the Community: LACMA On-Site in 2006 as a multiyear partnership providing art programs and materials to schools, libraries, and community organizations throughout LAUSD Local District 4. The program includes artist-led workshops in classrooms, local libraries, and community centers; curriculum materials; professional development for teachers; and free youth memberships to LACMA. 

Charles White Elementary School opened in 2004 on the former campus of Otis College of Art and Design. The school is named for the artist Charles White (1918–1979), who lived in the area and who taught at Otis for many years.  The exhibition SWAP, also organized by LACMA, was on view at Charles White last year.










Top Images: Howard Pasamanick
Bottom Image: Marysa Dowling