Category Archives: Teaching

No New Jails! A Teach-in for the YBCA’s Young Artists At Work

tumblr_inline_mv8lw4hil61rt6174This month I was back at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Young Artist At Work (YAAW) program to lead a teach-in about the fight against the replacement county jail in San Francisco. The city’s sherriff, Ross Mirkarimi is proposing to replace the current seismically unfit county jails 3 and 4 with a brand new $465 million dollar new jail. He argues that the new jail design allows for more space for rehabilitative programs and will be safer.

However, San Francisco doesn’t need a new jail! The current facilities are only at 65% capacity and through bail reform up to 500 people can be released, therefore making the need for another facility obsolete. And besides, we know there is no such thing as a safe jail. I spoke with the YAAW’s about what ways for them to join our fight against the new jail and what are alternatives to jails; how would they spend $465 million dollars in their own communities?

Later, the YAAW participants wrote letters to their board of supervisors demanding that they vote against the upcoming jail proposal. I hope these letters reach those in power and that the supervisor’s pay attention to the youth of San Francisco and these young leaders! Below are some highlights:

“By supporting the construction of the new jail you are teaching us that building walls is better than breaking them, that segregation is justice. You are teaching me that fear trumps empathy.”

“Shutting down the jail can save us more money to spend on other social welfare programs that can support underserved and at-risk families especially in neighborhoods such as Hunter’s Point-Bayview, and other at-risk communities.”

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Exploring an Abolitionist Future with the YBCA’s Young Artists At Work

ybca_wkshp1I was thrilled to be invited to work with the Young Artists At Work (YAAW)  program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) this year. The theme of the program is “Envisioning an Abolitionist Future,” and the high school participants are creating powerful responses to the prison system.

I led a workshop for the YAAW’s based on my organizing with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and my recent project and collaboration with CCWP members and prison survivors, “It Is Our Duty to Fight / It Is Our Duty to Win.”

We started the workshop by discussing the current California prison crisis and how it is affecting people locked up in the California state prisons for women. We watched two videos: CURB’s message to Governor Jerry Brown about overcrowding and the Freedom Archive’s documentation of the Chowchilla Freedom Rally. We discussed protest, the role of artists in protest, and the strategies CCWP uses to amplify the voices of people inside. I shared with them the process for my piece “It Is Our Duty to Fight / It Is Our Duty to Win” in which I interviewed prison survivors in order to create an audio piece and protest signs based on their words.

The youth then conducted their own interviews and original protest signs. They asked each other two questions: How does the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) affect your life? And what does a world without mass incarceration look like? They each then created a protest sign based on a quotation from their partner’s interview. I was so impressed by their sharp critical analysis of the PIC, their willingness to share their personal experience, and so moved by their honest and hopeful visions for the future. We ended the day making a lot of noise together as we all shouted the Assanta chant in the grand lobby of the YBCA.

Excerpts from the interviews are below (featuring Jay Eppler, Annie Yu, Malaya Sadler, Daisy Kuang, Jordan Brooks, and Dayra Banales), along with documentation of the day’s workshop.

Participate in government! Stop Gentrification! Demand Independence! UC Berkeley students send messages home

In August I was invited to be a guest artist at UC Berkeley in the undergraduate course, “Visual Thinking” taught by Erin Johnson. After sharing my recent work and discussing the forms I use in my art practice—archival research, interviews, audio recordings, text and protest—the students set out to do their own research about each other. In pairs they spoke about where they are from and answered some of the following questions:

What do you consider the most important issues facing your community or neighborhood?

What resources does your neighborhood need that it doesn’t have?

What does or does not make this place feel like home?

What message do you have for your your community or neighborhood?

Then each pair created protest signs based on the messages, demands, and hopes that their partner has for their towns, cities and countries they were raised.

Below are videos of the students explaining their signs and what they learned about each others relationship to place.

Art 148: Winter Quarter 2011 Open Studios

Open Studios at UC Santa Cruz is coming up! The art department will open its doors to visitors on Friday, March 11th from Noon to 5PM.

I am looking forward to the opportunity to share  the work of our class; Special Topic in Sculpture: The Intimate Body, the Public Body. As the quarter continues I am more and more impressed with my student’s work that is deeply personal and politically and culturally relevant. Please come! Enjoy! And find us in room E-101!

Art 148: Thinking Through the Body

We just finished week 4 of the quarter in Special Topics in Sculpture or The Intimate Body, the Public Body at UC Santa Cruz. To begin the class my students and I did a brainstorm about the words, “Intimate” and “Public,” as well as, “The Body.” Below are some examples of what comes to mind when considering these terms and above is a message created between students that I recently discovered on the chalkboard in the classroom after assigning a project about identity. I am grateful to be thinking through these subjects with these students.



Art 148: The Intimate Body / The Public Body

I will be teaching an undergraduate sculpture class at UC Santa Cruz during the Winter 2011 quarter entitled, “The Intimate Body / The Public Body.” Below is the course description.

This course will consider the body as it exists within both an intimate and public sphere. Students will engage in a series of formal and conceptual projects that address topics such as body memory, anatomy, vulnerability, racial and gender identity, queerness, body technologies and how the body relates to and effect its environment. Through a series of presentations, readings, research, and studio work, students will be exposed to feminist and queer theories, contemporary art practices and histories related to sculpture and the body. Assignments will encourage an experimentation with materials, performance and collaboration

Image credit: Regina Jose Galindo, Saqueo. Photography by Marion Garcia.