A few months ago we began a TRASHformation program with a group of at risk youth from the project housing community of Ramona Gardens in East LA. The youth, who we met with at Legacy LA, a non profit dedicated to making positive interventions in the lives of young people by offering alternatives to gangs and violence.
This TRASHformation is a collaborative effort that reflects issues surrounding police-installed surveillance cameras in Ramona Gardens, since most of our participants sited the cameras as an issue that affects on a daily basis. Our piece explores themes of perspective: what the cameras see and what they don’t, the true Ramona Gardens (both positive and negative aspects) as seen through the eyes of our participants.
The Legacy youth told us that the surveillance cameras give them the feeling of constantly being watched, and that their presence emphasizes only the negative aspects of their community. We decided to flip this idea on its head by arming each participant with his/her own disposable camera. The participants then used the cameras to capture daily occurances in Ramona Gardens, both good and bad, in an attempt to accurately portray their community. We collected almost 400 photos from the Legacy group. Together we built a sculpture in the shape of a tree and displayed the images on the trunk going from positive to negative and then topped the tree with a large paper mache eye. The iris and pupil of the eye are also created using photos and negatives taken by the Legacy youth, and the whole thing is stained brown to resemble a tree.
The sculpture is made from a collection of found chicken wire, repurposed wood, and recycled newspaper, then covered in pictures taken by Legacy LA youth. Thanks to Kyle McCullough for his paper mache instruction on this piece!
We hope to get the piece displayed or presented to city council with some of the youth we worked with, to address the surveillance camera issue.