At RuckusRoots, we love making things; there’s no better time of year to get cozy around a craft table! We’ve been making beautiful jewelry repurposed from donated goods, and we’ll be selling it this Saturday at the Silverlake Craft Fair. These mini fundraisers are what help sustain us throughout the year. Please come see us at theSilverlake Craft Fair from 10am-4pm at 1511 Micheltorena St. LA, CA 90026 December 13th. We’re sure you’ll find some great gifts!
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!
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.
Many believe the first step towards change begins with one’s self; this belief has proven to be more than just an idea to an extraordinary Highland Park resident. Chan Wing Lam has proven himself much more than just a loving husband and father, but also an innovator who has recently acted upon his lifelong interest in electrical engineering and the world of eco-friendly living.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, China, Lam first found his interest in electrical maintenance when in high school. Moving to America in 1984, he began working long hours in a seafood restaurant and later as a BBQ chef. It was not too long ago that he began putting his time into solar powered apparatuses to help cut back the cost of his electricity bill.
In 2013 he started his first solar panel project with broken glass windows and pieces acquired via eBay. Today he has several panels installed over the roof of his home and is even attempting to build a windmill. Each panel produces around 130 watts that go into one of his 3 inverters he has set up around his home. We got a chance to take a look inside his home and workshop to see for ourselves his mechanical endeavors.
Within a day and a half, and given the right materials, Lam can build one of his solar-powered automatons all by himself. He has given no thought to passing on his knowledge of mechanical money-savers down to a new generation, but did seem intrigued when posed with the question. Although his legacy may end with him, it has influenced the way Highland Park residents think about conservation. With the sight of his home just across the street from Franklin High School, hundreds of students pass by noticing not only his solar panels, but also his front yard garden full of vegetation he grows for his family.
We’re very excited about our new program, Chimes for Change, which will launch this fall. Until then, we’re planning on making lots of wind chimes out of found objects and recycled materials, and enlisting our friends to do the same. The more the merrier, we say! Our first chime is complete, and I’m very happy to announce that it was accepted to show at the Atwater Village Art Walk this weekend! So if you want to come down and see it for yourself, please do! We’d love to see you there!
Below is the the artist statement that will appear along with the chime, which is entitled “When One Door Closes.”
WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES
By Christine Spehar
“When One Door Closes” is a wind chime made from found and recycled materials.
The story behind it is two fold.
Firstly, on a personal level, it is inspired by a transition time in my life when, in terms of my significant relationship, “one door closed and another opened.” At first traumatic, but ultimately transformative and positive, the experience reminded me of the importance of boundaries. While healthy boundaries (emotional, physical, etc) are essential for healthy relationships, breaking those boundaries down is sometimes crucial for evolving into something new, different and potentially better. Every material in the piece relates to this theme of boundaries: windows, doors, locks, keys etc. The piece is especially relevant to Atwater Village because, thanks to the experience that inspired it, I was able to move back to the Atwater community, which I love and have lived in for years.
Secondly, I am the founder of a small sustainable arts non-profit called RuckusRoots. We have implemented several programs in East LA communities for underserved teens, usually building art out of recycled materials and creating pieces that show our participants how art can be used to address community issues and affect positive change in the world. We are starting a new program called Chimes for Change this fall, in which we will guide at risk youth in constructing wind chimes like this one. We plan to make a song with the sounds the chimes produce, and to present the chimes with our students and collaborators at Sound Walk 2013.
Not your typical wind chime, “When One Door Closes” offers an array of sounds, from delicate to brash. Many elements of the piece, though old or broken, catch the light in a beautiful way. These features serve as a reminder that any significant relationship or experience is sure to bring with it the full range of human emotions: subtle and sweet, loud and harsh…and that sometimes so-called imperfections can turn out to be just the opposite.
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.
A Taste of What to Expect at Highland Park’s ‘Taste of Highland Art’
The senior class at Academia Avance in Highland Park have taken it upon themselves to produce a festival, appropriately called ‘Taste of Highland Art,’ where art, music and food come together in the hopes of giving folks a “taste” of what the Highland Park community is all about.
The festival is set to include local artists, businesses, food trucks and even local bands, along with some of the students’ own artwork and creations. Five teens who have been participating in our Strong Roots internship program guided by Robin Banks spent the last semester learning essential art and building skills, including welding and CNC machine operation. Recently, the interns assisted Robin in creating an art fabrication commissioned by Twitter to be used at this year’s Grammy’s!
After completing several projects, these creative teens looked around and realized that many of the leftover scraps could be turned into beautiful art work. Attendees of “Taste of Highland Park” will be able to view and purchase these mini “TRASHformations” made by our Strong Roots interns. Above and below are samples of what the students are showing.
The festival will take place on March 5th and March 12th, from 3 to 9 pm in the heart of Highland Park at Ave. 57 and Marmion Way, near The Gold Line station. For more information about the festival, visit The Taste of Highland Art Facebook page. Come out and support your local community and the young artists that call it home. We’ll see you there!
The fact of the matter is, we all love to have a good time, and we (mostly) all hope to do some good in the world while we’re here.
On June 16th, RuckusRoots succeeded in throwing an event that achieved both of those things, a party with a purpose, if you will. TRASHion Show, a fundraiser and fashion show featuring clothing made from creatively recycled materials, took place at Wild Honey Studios in downtown Los Angeles benefitting RuckusRoots’ award-winning program, TRASHformation.
Through TRASHion Show (and programs like TRASHformation), we wanted to get people thinking critically about trash. The purpose of the event was to expose our audience to some of the many creative and functional uses for garbage, to raise their awareness of the vibrant sustainable arts community LA is home to, and to inspire them to apply some of what they experienced at the event to their own lives. (Oh, and to have a good time while we were at it: check and check.) The event also helped us raise some seed funding, which we will use to bring one of our core programs, TRASHformation, to teens and young adults in East LA.
It’s important to note that TRASHformation, and TRASHion for that matter, are not just about people playing with garbage (although it is fun!): we are trying to initiate a paradigm shift in how we define garbage, use resources and therefore, how we impact the world. What we throw away is only garbage if we THINK it is. This kind of mental shift is what’s required if we’re going to begin to live sustainably as a society.
Arts education is in as much peril as our planet. I want to create programs that address and support both of these essential entities. My goal is to offer a sustainable arts program to young people in my community as a supplement to what they are most likely missing at school. Creative expression is vital, not only for sustainability (let’s face it: coming up with solutions to save our planet will take creative problem solving, collaboration and ingenuity, all of which our programs teach), but also for the world as a whole.
RuckusRoots is about grassroots action for change: that’s what we hope TRASHion Show and our programs demonstrate. It’s important to note that everything RuckusRoots has achieved and is striving towards is made possible through collaboration with the large community of artists and activists we call friends. I’m honored and humbled to be involved with such a great group of people.
For more inspiration, check out a full gallery of images from TRASHion show, and let us know what you think!