Leaning Forward | Celebrating the Public Arts Institutions at UCLA

Leaning Forward | Celebrating the Public Arts Institutions at UCLA


We need something to believe in that speaks deeply to us about the things that nothin gelse talks about. The arts are my faith. They are the place in which we represent ourselves as human beings. Nearly every people, everywhere, needs a way of understanding why we exist. How do we make an impact in our lives? Art and ideas illuminate our lives and make a more just world. The arts are a place in which a secular community of strangers belongs to one another, together, in public space, out of leaning forward toward what an artist has to offer. At the School of the Arts and Architecture at the UCLA campus, you find three incredible public units… The Hammer, the Center for the Art of Performance, the Fowler— These kind of public venues are remarkable opportunities to form gateways as the means to connect UCLA with its larger territory. Los Angeles is open to the forms of experimentation, forward thinking vision, which we as a school, work with daily, within studios and seminars and in performance halls. There are these tendrils that go from the university, to the community of the university, the community of Los Angeles, then out and out and out and out. The Center for the Art of Performance certainly has this generative, amazing capacity. What we do is really work very deeply with artists. We also try to work with audiences to give context to why this work matters. Audiences are adventurous. They’re interested, they’re curious, they seek discovery. They want to be part of a conversation. They want to find one another through that connective tissue of an artist. It’s not about me coming in and sharing all this information and you quietly sitting there and absorbing it, but it’s about an exchange. It’s about a back and forth and about creating space that feels alive and connected and vibrant. The Hammer is not just a museum, it’s a cultural center; where the riches and incredible talents of the students and professors at UCLA can be shared with the city, and vice versa. Having that resource available is really helpful to my growth as an artist and as a student because I can just walk down the street and go see that show or go see new artists with great perspectives across disciplines and across approaches within those disciplines. When we work with artists, we ask them what it is they would like to have happen for them in their communities. And often that takes the Hammer out into the city. My experience was very collaborative. It didn’t feel like I was just coming and just sort of, installing a piece. Something I didn’t expect from curators, from an institution —being open to allowing the work to exist where it needs to exist, in different spaces throughout the city to make art more accessible. What we do relates to the diversity of the city and to the particular demographics of the city. We have a curator of African art, we have a curator of Ancient Americas, we have a curator of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and we have a curator of Latin American and Caribbean popular arts. Art truly can open doors of understanding to diverse cultures around the world, to diverse perspectives so that we can have new conversations that incorporate more voices and that bring more people to the table. The Fowler can remind us that the world is a remarkably creative and productive place. There is so much going on that we need to value— especially to value difference, that difference is something to marvel at and not something to fear. When you can join an arts community together, we amplify our capacity to carry the culture into its next future.

Dereck Turner

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