The class is led by Abel Valenzuela, director of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and Karen Hunter Quartz, professor in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Quartz led the design team who created the RFK UCLA Community Schools in 2009, integrating cutting-edge, culturally relevant educational research into the teaching curriculum. Six schools are included in the program, which supports underperforming and overcrowded schools in the historically underserved neighborhoods of Pico-Union and Koreatown.
After an introduction to the concept of artivism, students met exhibit artist Gabe Gault, who shared his work and journey as an artist. Students hung on every word as they learned about Gault’s early interest in anime and comic books and the inspiration behind his portrayal of three of the exhibit’s activists: Robert Singleton, John Delloro, and Patrisse Cullors. Gabe revealed his passion for portraying those who “stand out and blend in at the same time,” people who are part of our everyday lives who also make lasting change.
Next up was Chancee Martorell, a UCLA alumna featured in the exhibit who, for thirty years, has dedicated her life to uplifting Thai, immigrant, and local working-class communities. She related her experiences as an advocate, urban planner, and community leader. She also shared her hardships as an inner city child from a working-class immigrant family in the Pico-Union neighborhood. Her early exposure to economic and social disparity drove her to become active in her community at a young age, and she urged the elementary and high school students to think about what they could do to support social justice in their communities.
After the discussion, the children broke out into small groups for a gallery walk, led by the UCLA undergraduates. Students were given the opportunity to learn about each activist and analyze the artistic conventions of the portraits, drawing their own interpretations of each piece.