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

a student creates her still life drawing
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


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!




Join us at the Frogtown Art Walk!


“Your Hug,” the 11-foot tall, interactive teddy bear sculpture RuckusRoots built with middle school students from Highland Park last semester, will be showing at the Frogtown Art Walk this September 13th, 2014. With live music and lots of exhibiting local artist, this event is not to be missed! Our piece will be showing at 2902 Gilroy St. at Cafecito Organico. The event runs from 4-10pm. We hope to see you there!


Building the Bear: Our Process

The summer is lingering on, and we’ve been having a great one – enjoying some much needed time with family and friends.

We are excited to come back refreshed and renewed for the coming fall semester. Until then, here’s a gallery of images of our most recent piece, “Your Hug,” built with artist mentor Rebekah Waites and 127 middle school students from Academia Avance in Highland Park. This TRASHformation program was the only arts education these students received all semester. To learn more about how and why we made the bear, please check out the previous blog. The bear will be on display again soon, stay tuned!

RuckusRoots Sculpture Debuts at Northeast LA Art Walk


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.

photo 4 1

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.



RuckusRoots goes to Coachella with CryoChrome!

rainbow tunnel

If you were wondering what RuckusRoots was up to this April, look no further than CryoChrome, one of the must sought after art installations on display during this years Coachella Valley Music Festival in Indio, CA.

We spent 18 days in the desert to help make CryoChrome come to life. The piece was the brain child of LA artist and RuckusRoots collaborator James Peterson. This was Peterson’s first commissioned art piece for Coachella, and we are proud to say it was a success!

The interactive sculpture was roughly 40 feet long and 20 feet tall, and was based on Russian ice caves. Affectionately dubbed ‘the rainbow tunnel,’ the outside of the piece was covered in a skin of over 20,000 recycled CD’s (yay for recycled materials!) while the inside of the tunnel was vaccu-formed plastic walls covered in color-changing LED lighting. As you walked through the piece, the walls rotated around you, creating an optical illusion that left festival goers dizzy and exhilarated. Lines remained long throughout both weekends of the festival; we estimated at least 70,000 viewers experienced the sculpture each weekend.

RS cryochrome outside
Photo courtesy of Koury Angelo via Rolling Stone

We were honored to be a part of such an amazing art project! The piece was featured in various publications, including Rolling Stone, LA Weekly, The Hollywood ReporterHuffington Post and many more. It was an exciting month and now we’re on to more ruckus-raising at home!

Coachella 2014: Cryochrome from James Mills on Vimeo.

RuckusRoots Chosen to attend Annenberg Alchemy Seminar

cute kid

We’re looking forward to completing the last leg of our Annenberg Alchemy seminar this coming June. We attended the first two sessions this past March at the Science Center.

We were thrilled when we found out earlier this year that RuckusRoots had been chosen to participate in this year’s annual Annenberg Alchemy seminar. The seminar consists of 3 days: two full days of training and an ‘Anthology Review Day’ approximately 90 days later. This 90 Day period allows the program attendees to implement the lessons learned. Critical issues covered are fundraising, board effectiveness, civic engagement and accountability.

This prestigious non profit seminar focuses on the working relationship and communication between the Executive Director and the Board Chair, more specifically the alignment of both parties goals, roles and responsibilities in relation to each other and how that provides the catalyst for change for the overall organization.

To be accepted into Annenberg Alchemy, they require your organization has been serving the needs of the local community for at least three years, with the same Executive Director in place for two or more years, and operating with an annual budget of $5 million or less. Check, check and check!

We’re looking forward to completing the last leg of our Annenberg Alchemy seminar this coming June. After attending the first two sessions this past March at the Science Center, we’re sure that we’ll make a lot more good connections and take the invaluable tools Annenberg gave us to better RuckusRoots in every way!



Thank You, Highland Park Neighborhood Council


We are pleased to announce the Highland Park Neighborhood Council has awarded us a Neighborhood Purpose Grant to support the upcoming TRASHformation we will be conducting with middle school students from Academia Avance. The program starts on Tuesday, January 21st, and we couldn’t be more excited, and thrilled to have the support of the community! Thank you, Highland Park Neighborhood Council!

Meet our fall Strong Roots Interns

Fall Strong Roots Internship

photo 1As part of our Strong Roots internship program, RuckusRoots has taken on two new interns for the fall semester. Strong Roots is an internship program in which LA teens learn sustainable art, building and design skills with guidance from RuckusRoots staff artists.

Both interns, seniors from Academia Avance Charter School in Highland Park, are also responsible for tasks ranging from daily social media posts, to looking for funding opportunities, as well as learning how to manage design and content for the website.

Below are bios from our interns in their own words:

Milagros is currently a college ready senior at Academia AVance Charter School. With a strong interest in sports, music, art, and literature, Milagros (aka. milo) plans to study business, in Chicago. And hopefully move out to the East Coast after college. 100% tea fanatic , Batman lover for life ! ! !

I can make a cookie in a mug. I have a cut out Mystery Machine that blocks the path in my room and I used to get in trouble for reading in class. I must become physically invested with something to become emotionally invested and I dread running, but am a co-captain of my school’s cross country team. Everytime I dress nicely I feel like James Bond and people say that I have the head for my hat. I love singing, but feel like I singing the same 7 songs over and over. My hands are always cold. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’ll tell you when I get there. -Andres Guzman

Strong Roots is an intensive, hands on opportunity for young people who have expressed an interest in sustainable art and design as a potential career path. Strong Roots was designed as a way to bring professionally-guided experience in the arts to areas of LA where these kids of opportunities are often difficult to come by. 


We’re always interested taking on new interns from the East LA area! For internship inquiries or to learn more about our Strong Roots program please contact