Wildfires & Mental Health.
The wildfires are out of control, and it’s not just the forests they’re decimating. These disastrous burns are sparking a reaction of mental health crises in surrounding rural communities, and their local governments and services simply cannot keep up. Using immersive storytelling technologies, this project seeks to explore how climate change is already having a profound impact on human wellness.
Gabrielle’s project is based on a need to advocate against consumerist capitalist culture in a very DIY sort of way. She will create a sort of wearable fashion piece from recycled materials and take it into the public sphere to perform with it. She will document the interactions that take place from the interpretive dance and performance. Her goal is to create a loud statement to lead people to re-evaluate some of their choices particularly when purchasing single use products that contribute to climate change through landfills emitting fossil fuels and ocean pollution. The setting will be a beach for a more visually stark contrast between consumption and nature as an interpretation of the mother earth metaphor. Another iteration of this will take place in the ‘real’ world. Shoppers will be invited to contribute their store receipts to the wearable body art piece to prompt the thought of ‘how do our daily actions affect the earth?’ She will play the earth covered in receipts.
Project Drawdown for
Project Drawdown for Dummies (PD4D) is a seven-part video series that breaks down each chapter from Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. PD4D's short, digestible videos provide a visually engaging overview of the top 100 carbon-sequestering solutions for people who might not have the time to read the whole book. PD4D draws relatable connections and picks out the most salient points in energy, food, women and girls, buildings and cities, land use, transport, and materials. Between animations and fun stories, viewers might feel so entertained that they forget they're learning—like sneaking veggies into mac 'n cheese. PD4D hopes to combat the paralyzing feeling of climate doom and instead inspire the confidence to shape our future through climate solutions.
Prodigal Daughter is a short film about climate change, centering around drought and lack of water access. The film starts as the last drop of waterfalls in a small Central Californian town. A mother and daughter, Marta and Lena, lose all access to their water supply and must choose whether to migrate. Kelsey’s film tackles the tough decisions we may have to make, and a future that might not be so far off.
Seongjune (Andy) Cho
The UnwasteSeries is a collective of inventive artworks that shows the impact of waste accumulation. There is almost no one that is unaware of the detrimental scar waste leaves on the Earth. However, there has not been a significant effort in ending this crisis; we turn a blind eye. Understandably so as it is hard to suddenly stop the production of plastic-centric goods, potentially resulting in a global, economic turmoil. Despite the harmful footprint, Andy isn’t saying that we should completely rid the world of plastic. It improved billions of lives, not only for carrying water but in hospitals, lowering prices, and more. Furthermore, we must understand the complex nature of the waste that is produced as a consequence. Through mixed-media sculptures and other artistic means, Andy invents visually impactful artworks that allow the awareness of waste to linger in the subconscious of the audience.
Super Stewards of Los Angeles / Sacred Sites and Stories
This project calls for the advancement of indigenous leadership for climate resilience through storytelling and design, bringing traditional knowledge systems to the forefront. Indigenous cultures are highly dependent on their geographies; with their identities and cultures deeply anchored in place. Using landscape architecture skills to illustrate narratives, myths, and rituals, the intangible heritage inherent to the place is brought to light. This project aims to make the importance of indigenous sacred sites visible. In the process, they plan to form connections with tribal leaders, community members, and researchers to further embed traditional knowledge and form a network of collaboration and support.
Sage believes that making environmentalist art is the greatest way to inspire activism. Inspired by the works of Keats, Frost, and Thoreau, he's found a love for environmentalist literature. To share that inspiration, he will host workshops, speakers, and an environmental poetry writing contest, all focused on exploring and reflecting on the environment through poetry. It is his hope that students, young people, and anyone who wants to learn about the genre will cultivate a deeper appreciation for the natural world through writing their own work.
Jack is currently working to create a documentary about access to natural spaces around LA and how people in marginalized communities often don't have access. This project is for his master’s thesis and will most likely be broadcast on the spectrum.
Regen is a garden-themed mindfulness and community-building platform. It supports decolonizing work, which includes 1) recentering Indigenous voices, 2) reconnecting with ancestral Indigenous practices, and 3) prioritizing self-care and nourishment for all beings. The gardener begins in their tree of life. They can traverse the branches or the roots, which lead to gardens and the trees of fellow gardeners respectively. Gardens are safe spaces to compost what is not nourishing and cultivate more of what is. The gardener can also visit their taproot, a space for nourishing ancestral connections. When the gardener leaves their tree, they enter the community garden. This is a map where they can fly around as a pollinator, visiting the trees of fellow gardeners who are proximal in geographical space. The map shows the land as it was before colonization, populated by information crowdsourced by Indigenous gardeners.
Humanizing Water is a production that will combine visual and performing arts to bring an interactive experience with different concepts of water on a local, national, and global level. Oftentimes, conservation and management policies do not reflect this diversity. Therefore, the main objective of this physical installation is to generate a space where people can take a moment to engage with images and expressions of water that perhaps were never considered; they are invited to reflect upon their own relationship with local water. The intended location of the production is the Fisher Museum courtyard: Around the courtyard, there will be visuals (photos of water-related narratives (personal, communal, global) that lead up to encompassing live performances, such as skits or dance. The overall larger vision is to exhibit how water is interpreted, respected, on different scales, around the world (Local, National, Global, by bringing the spirit back to our relationship with water, one of the earth’s most beautiful resources.
Eytan’s project is a collaborative multimedia effort to illustrate the relationships between power, space, ecology, and community on and near the USC campus. The culmination of the effort will be a living sculpture: a 14’X14’ replica of the fence surrounding USC containing a garden within. The fence creates a new spatial typology that is neither within the USC campus nor within the surrounding neighborhoods. In this new space, a garden of seeds sourced from local community gardeners will be sown. Eytan hopes that the stories associated with these seeds will spur healing dialogue between local community members and USC students. By playfully reframing the gated campus of USC, sowing a living garden as a means of storytelling, and providing educational material to contextualize the project, Eytan hopes to cultivate awareness, empathy, and action within the USC community to address the often violent relationship USC has with its neighbors.
By comparing the waste of food on college campuses with the food scarcity on Indian reservations, Eid aims to encourage sustainability at USC while spreading awareness about the struggles that Natives face. She plans to use recycled materials like wrappers and bottles, as well as more conventional materials, to create portraits of those affected by food scarcity.
Despite all the displacement they’ve caused and pollution--of both air and noise--and congestion they’ve exacerbated, the sweeping monoliths we know as the Los Angeles freeways seem to just keep getting wider. Stella’s project will explore the destructive nature of local freeways through a multimedia zine that highlights the communities directly impacted by them and the organizers pushing against this construction of spatial injustice. Guided by a through-line that emphasizes the importance of mutual liberation, the zine will string together archive materials, data visualizations, community narratives, and oral histories and aim to creatively communicate not only how freeways have cemented oppression into the built environment, but also how we can organize and leverage collective power to undo some of that structural harm.
It can be easy to forget Los Angeles is named for a river, and that despite its concrete channel, the L.A. River is still an important natural waterway, an integral emblem that shapes the city. To make its heritage and presence more visible, Chen will build a multimedia website incorporated with immersive and spatial elements, which explains, critiques, and celebrates the L.A. River. She plans to conduct a mile-by-mile survey of the river, through satellite, on foot, and via drive, pinning stories of people and communities along the way that echo with climate change, sustainability, and the identity of Los Angeles. She also hopes to design a series of map-themed postcards to feature hidden gems, architectural icons, community symbols, and activities to do, etc. along the waterway, encouraging more people to explore and engage with the river.
Hurricanes, earthquakes, increasing temperatures, and rising sea levels have devastated Puerto Rico and disproportionately impacted low-income and coastal communities. Laura’s project focuses on families and individuals who have struggled to get back on their feet as a result of the climate crisis. As someone who has practiced painting most of her life, she found that art was the most effective way to help advocate for climate justice by telling the stories of disadvantaged communities through imagery. This project consists of three abstract paintings made from natural materials and recycled products to depict the narrative of environmental racism in Puerto Rico. By creating paint made from discarded makeup and using wooden panels from fallen trees, not only does Laura create a sustainable work of art, but a series of paintings that encompass all things environmental.
The aim of Hannah’s project is to uplift and highlight the people who care for our natural areas and the communities that surround them, who address park equity and climate justice in the city of Los Angeles. This city is brimming with natural resources to discover. However, many of the city’s residents suffer from “plant blindness” and are disconnected from the land in the city and the work that goes into caring for and maintaining it. Taking a personal narrative approach, she will conduct a series of interviews to celebrate and record the labor needed to care for our most valuable resources. Her hope is that by shedding light on these stories, she can foster a greater level of investment in and respect for our public spaces. This project is an extension of Test Plot, an existing experiment in community-based land care run by USC Professor Jen Toy and Terremoto.
The project focuses on field research along with several hands-on experiments towards the production of sustainable textiles. The research involves the symbiotic relationship between humans and their environment. Thinking of the environment as a catalyst for successful change and the re-innovation of design. This experimentation will explore the human connection to sustainable design and the internal/external transformation of the individual when wearing clothing made solely from the earth. Research in cultures that historically became a part of nature by designing with the earth creates an opportunity to compare the industrialized western way of life to these cultures and to further explore a more ecologically responsive lifestyle. A critical outcome of this research is a current and ongoing project - developing a bio textiles made from food waste for utilization in clothing.
Rachel & Milagros' Project
Rachel and Milagros are creating a 20-30 min environmental justice documentary, in collaboration with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), that will explore in-depth the devastating environmental and health impacts from the Exide Technologies lead-acid battery smelter in Vernon, California — and the lack of accountability for residential cleanup for tens of thousands of homes that have been adversely affected by the smelter. CBE is a non-profit environmental justice organization in California that has been involved in this Exide case for over a decade. They are seeking to create a film that will serve as a call to action to the many local and federal politicians and council members who have long ignored the Black, Indigenous, People of color (BIPOC), and low-income communities severely affected by the Exide contamination. Through their film, they will focus on and uplift several families and individuals in the affected communities of Boyle Heights, Huntington Park, Maywood, and Commerce, through detailed interviews where viewers get to hear about their personal experiences living through this environmental pollution. In addition to the community focus, they will also integrate animation into the filmmaking process to provide a visually rich and complex narrative.