Tag: Academia Avance

Student Presentation: Opening Day at the Los Angeles Zoo

Our Wild Art Sculpture concluded its 5-week exhibition at the Los Angeles Zoo yesterday, after celebrating Endangered Species Day for the Zoo’s Wild for the Planet event. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful month, during which we met many awesome Angelinos who care about our planet, its creatures and the arts! The sculpture is moving to its new home in Highland Park, where the students who built it will be able to enjoy it for years to come. 

Until then, enjoy this video, which shows our students presenting their piece on opening day at the Los Angeles Zoo, as well as artist mentor Nino Alicea sharing his thoughts on the power of collaborative arts to improve communities & change lives. 

Unveiling of Wild Art Sculpture at the LA Zoo

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On April 23rd, we unveiled our Wild Art sculpture at the Los Angeles Zoo. Thanks to our crowdfunder from last fall, the Highland Park Neighborhood Council and Academia Avance Charter School, we were able to make this unprecedented event happen. Our Wild Art sculpture is the first outside art piece to ever be installed at the Los Angeles Zoo. Several of the student-artists who helped make the piece were able to come and present it to viewers on opening day. Following are pictures and video of the event. Congrats to all the students, thanks to artist mentor Nino Alicea, designer James Peterson and fabricator Scott Froschauer for your help in bringing this piece to life.

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We’re Going to the Zoo!

WildforthePlanet-logo-e1459641971135We are very happy to announce that we have found placement for our Wild Art sculpture!

Thank you to everyone who has supported this project along the way, and thank you in advance to everyone who will help us build it.

Here are the Details

Our students’ Wild Art paintings will be on display for a month starting on Earth Day (April 23rd) and ending on Endangered Species Day (May 22nd), as part of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens’s Wild for the Planet Event. Come see us across from the Eucalyptus Grove in the Zoo.

Made with help from 200  youth from Academia Avance in Northeast Los Angeles, the sculpture features paintings of local threatened species, including the monarch butterfly, mountain lion, peregrine falcon and steelhead trout. In RuckusRoots’ Wild Art program, students combined ecology, wildlife and art training to create this sculpture. They hope it will bring awareness to the beautiful and diverse range of species that call Los Angeles home, and encourage viewers to consider ways in which humans, plants and animals can coexist harmoniously in our great city. This sculpture was made possible in part by the Highland Park Neighborhood Council and will find its permanent home in the students’ community of Highland Park after its exhibition at the LA Zoo.

If you would like to sponsor the sculpture or help us build it, please email info@ruckusroots.org. More info on volunteer shifts and sponsorship opportunities coming soon!

RuckusRoots Program “Wild Art” Wraps Up at Academia Avance

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Wild Art, a RuckusRoots program that connects underserved LA teens to nature in their own community and teaches them visual art skills, wrapped up last week at Academia Avance in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Over the course of 8 weeks, nearly 180 eighth and ninth graders worked with professional artist mentor Nino Alicea to learn artistic skills (color theory, composition and still life drawing). The learned about sustainability from RuckusRoots founder Christine Spehar, and also received education from wildlife expert Miguel Ordenana, who taught them about the amazing biodiversity that exists right under their noses in Los Angeles. The students combined these lessons by creating their own wildlife-inspired artwork on painted aluminum–the templates we used are of threatened native species. They chose between a monarch butterfly, a mountain lion, a trout and a peregrine falcon. 

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We are so proud of all of the students for their hard work and dedication to this program. Some who initially said, “I’m not creative,” or “I don’t like art,” ended up making some of the most beautiful work. We also interviewed some of our participants and are in the process of putting together a video with that footage, so stay tuned!

The next step for the nearly 200 beautifully painted aluminum plates is to combine them to design one, large permanent sculpture. Collaborator, friend and RuckusRoots artist mentor James Peterson is helping us with this piece of the puzzle. Next, we will work with the city and other local organizations to get our sculpture built and placed permanently. Our students will be able to help with that process and see their art pieces displayed this coming fall.

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The goal for publicly placing this sculpture is to give our youth a platform to creatively express themselves, connect to nature in LA and to take ownership of and pride in their community. We believe this introduction to wildlife and conservation issues is the first step in leading young people to engagement in and possibly beyond Los Angeles.

Thanks to all who participated, check out our gallery of pictures below and stay tuned for more videos and updates about this program this summer!

Mid-Program Progress: Still Life Drawings by Highland Park Youth

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A student creates her still life drawing

As part of our newest Urban Wildlife program, students first learn color theory, composition and still life drawing skills before moving on to the bigger, collaborative project. This video shows their mid-program progress.

We have some very talented students in these classes of 8th and 9th graders, and are so excited for the opportunity to offer them arts education, which they would not otherwise receive. Take a look at their skilled work!

This week we move on to urban wildlife education with local experts, planning our big art piece and writing about nature in Los Angeles. Each student will receive a template of a threatened Los Angeles animal that he/or she will paint. All these small pieces will be put together into one permanent art piece over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

New Community Art Program Begins at Academia Avance

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It’s a perfect way to spend Earth Day, if you ask me. We are starting our second week at Academia Avance today, where we are running a community art program focused on sustainability and endangered urban wildlife. Today, I asked the students to think about what sustainability means to them, and then we learned color theory with artist mentor Nino Alicea. The students created their own color wheels, making them in any shape they could imagine. The program will continue for the next seven weeks. We’re very excited for what’s in store, stay tuned!

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RuckusRoots Sculpture Debuts at Northeast LA Art Walk

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Our latest TRASHformation sculpture enjoyed a successful premiere last weekend at during the Northeast LA Art Gallery Night in Highland Park. The sculpture was on display at The Church on York last Saturday during the art walk.

We teamed up with 127 middle school students from Academia Avance in Highland Park, CA to create an interactive sculpture made from recycled materials. The program, called TRASHformation, was the only arts education the students received all semester.

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At the beginning of the program, we asked participants to come up with ideas for an art piece that would positively affect their community. The winning idea, by 11-year-old Brisa Cabrera Diaz, is entitled “Your Hug,” and is an 11-foot tall sculpture of a teddy bear that absorbs feelings. As Diaz wrote in her proposal, “My art piece is of emotion. When you’re sad you hug it and when you’re mad you can talk to it about your madness. Express your feelings to it.”

RuckusRoots worked with artist Rebekah Waites and five classes of middle school students over the spring semester to collaboratively build the sculpture. Students learned creative problem solving and artistic techniques such as sculptural modeling and fabric mache. Almost every piece of material used to make the sculpture was donated or found in the Highland Park community, including scrap wood, old bed frames, plastic containers, donated fabric, and mattress foam. 

The sculpture has several potential new homes, including the Academia Avance High School Campus, and a short stint at the Burning Man Arts Festival. We are hoping to place it at another local gallery for the duration of June and July, 2014. Please contact us if interested in hosting the bear.

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This week during TRASHformation: Fabric Mache

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Last week saw a lot of progress made in our TRASHformation program at Academia Avance middle school in Highland Park. Since the students had recently learned how to create a small 3D sculptural model, it was now time to think about how we will create the “skin” of our piece. Besides mentoring the students, Rebekah Waites and some very dedicated volunteers (thanks, Doug!) are simultaneously building the large structure. With the overabundance of fabric materials the community donated we thought it best to put those to good use. We introduced the students to a new art method known as “fabric mache”. “Fabric Mache” is in sense very similar to paper mache, it is the cross-stitching of strips of fabric that have been dipped in a solution of glue and water; once dry it becomes a stiff shell that can be painted and/or drilled.

In these upcoming weeks we will begin working towards designing and “stuffing” the interior of the sculpture, ensuring the strength and durability of the bear. We are still searching for a suitable home for this art piece at a Highland Park art gallery. Let us know if you have any leads!

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In Full Swing: TRASHformation in Highland Park


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With our TRASHformation program in full swing at Academia Avance middle school, we decided to push the flow of creativity and excitement by having each student prototype their original sculpture ideas. We did this so each student could gain a greater understanding of the process to creating their own large-scale art piece; from drafting art proposals to making miniature scale models, each student is contributing to and making progress towards our final large-scale sculpture. In our previous class we had each student build the body and form of each work, this week we moved on to painting the exterior with a base coat of white. Soon the students will have their own piece of art to take home, along with the large sculpture, which we will display in the community.

With the miniature projects nearly done, we had eager students help contribute to building the base and structure of the sculpture. We composed our base from recycled bed frames and had already formed its structure from recycled wood and chicken wire. While working with the dangerous tools was a task left to the artist mentors, many students helped out where they could, whether it was painting the base or helping form the body with chicken wire. It was a rewarding day! We closed shop with great hopes for the next week.

Day 2: Academia Avance’s TRASHformation

We started off classes by introducing the selected art proposal from last week, which will serve as inspiration towards our final project. The winner, Brisa Cabrera Diaz, age 11, wrote her proposal based on her experience with her teddy bear, which makes her feel better when she hugs it. She wrote of an individual capable of expressing his/her feelings freely to something  so safe and pure, titling her concept “Your Hug”. To reflect this, the piece we build with the students will be a giant teddy bear that can “absorb” the feelings of the community with its glowing LED heart. We are planning to build the piece using old stuffed animals, toys, books, etc. The concept reflects warm ideas that focus on the emotional well being of the community and the artist herself.

In order to collect the materials to make our art piece, we had a few classes begin making posters asking for donations. Anything from old shoes and clothes to discarded toys and books will do.

Next week we will collect the materials, take inventory and begin planning our design.