SAH American Architecture and Landscape Field Trip Program Makes Second Grant to artworxLA

by SAH News | Feb 06, 2017

Once again SAH is happy to partner with artworxLA to re-engage L.A. teens at the highest risk of exiting high school without a diploma. For the Fall 2016 season, artworxLA  partnered with the L.A. Conservancy to create an eleven-week high school class titled "Preserving Your L.A.: People and Places that Matter.” The program brought eight Teaching Artists to eight of artworxLA’s 26 school sites with various art mediums  and points of entry around topics such as architectural and cultural resources of the city and investigating the layered histories of students' neighborhoods. Each school project was guided by an artworxLA Workshop Coordinator and a Teaching Artist as they delved deep into the eleven-week process before presenting their work publicly on November 7, 2016, at the Los Angeles Theatre in Downtown L.A.

Highlights of two workshops are below:

Students at Azusa County Community School in Los Angeles were asked the question, "How does community influence creation? And how does creation influence community?" In the workshop students explored this relationship in terms of their own experiences while considering preservation in terms of resources and the environment, as well as history and culture.

Students studied the Glendora Castle, built by Michael Rubel with the support of friends and community members. This historic landmark built out of found objects such as bottles, tires, rocks and train tracks inspired students to use recycled materials for their projects. Students were then encouraged to explore their own narratives and what part community plays in their stories through the creation of personal zines and artist books.

The Classes’ final project was an accordion-style book in which students illustrated important places in their communities through a variety of techniques including printmaking, drawing and collage. These books serve both as an exploration in materials and themes, as well as a celebration of the positive places and memories in each student's community. The workshop at Azusa County Community School in Los Angeles featured Rachel Curry as Teaching Artist and Michael Alvarez as Workshop Coordinator for artworxLA.  

Teaching Artist Rachel Curry showing Azusa Students example of a magazine

Azusa students creating their own magazine

At Metropolitan High School in Los Angeles, Teaching Artist Gloria Westcott asked students to explore Los Angeles and its architectural history, design and planning. Students were asked to describe five things that they liked and disliked about their community, as well as what they wished they had in their community. Students re-imagined their own architectural spaces, emphasizing what was important to them.

On a field trip in their school neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles, students viewed murals and different architectural styles, and experienced the repurposed space of Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel. Students explored materials, form, abstraction, and construction, connecting the visual elements of contemporary art with architecture through the exhibition Revolution In The Making: Abstract Sculpture By Women 1947–2016. Through workshop discussions, students learned that like many visual artists, contemporary architects have experimented with new materials and techniques, especially given new technologies.

Leading up to the final design, each week students explored different design elements, including negative and positive space, use of line to create optical illusion, and perspective. Students studied architectural drawings and color renderings of buildings, and considered basic functions and designs of doors, windows, balconies, roofs, natural and artificial light, and local and imported materials. Overall, they gained an understanding of architecture from different periods, and how time necessitates change and adaptive reuse of certain buildings and spaces.

At Metropolitan High School Gloria Westcott served as Teaching Artist and Rochelle Botello was the Workshop Coordinator for artworxLA. 

Students at Metropolitan High School explore architectural drawings as part of their workshop experience

Metropolitan High School students posing with Teaching Artist Gloria Westcott at the LA Theater


Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610