Students touched prickly plants to inform their swirls of black ink at the Hammer Museum’s annual Arts Party.
Students from around Southern California came together Friday night to explore the museum’s galleries and participate in student-led workshops. The event also included poetry readings, DJs and live music. This year’s theme, “Wasteland,” centered the night on issues concerning climate change, eco-friendly lifestyles and reusing materials in artwork, said Jarrett Lampley, fourth-year design media arts student and member of the Arts Party student planning committee.
“’Wasteland’ is kind of reusing different things, and different ways of repurposing materials,” Lampley said. “Whether they were found or thrown away or whatever it may be, and that’s kind of what a lot of the artists are doing too, they’re creating.”
A portion of the event highlighted the waste produced from overindulgence in a world of mass consumerism, said fourth-year English student Katheryne Castillo, another member of the Arts Party committee. However, Castillo said the event also celebrated sustainable practices – in particular, the reusing of products that would otherwise go to waste.
Lampley said many of the artists, as well as the musical performers, drew from pre-existing materials or art, playing into the concept of reuse. Lawrence Jung, who goes by west1ne DJ, takes popular songs and remixes them with house music, Lampley said. The committee selected artist Dominic Fike as the headliner because of his changes to pop music and unconventional ideas, with a hazy sound and screeches to conclude songs, he said.
“I think (the artists’ works) revolve around the idea of questioning different institutions … in the context of music, somebody that’s questioning what pop music is and kind of restructuring that,” Lampley said.
Castillo said some of the students who attended also submitted ekphrastic poetry – works inspired by other art – in direct response to exhibits at the Hammer Museum. One poem, “Howl,” discussed the overuse of social media apps in reflection of Allen Ruppersberg’s “The Singing Posters.”
“I think it adds to the gallery and the museum-going experience by allowing people to see that they can make something out of art that is already there,” Castillo said.
The workshops revolved around environmentalism, but also reflected the content of the galleries already in the museum, said Hallie Scott, a Hammer Museum employee who oversaw the student planning committee. One artist-led workshop involved poster-making, which reflected the poster-style art by Allen Ruppersberg in a Hammer gallery, Scott said. Students could create protest posters for environmental activism or other causes they support, Scott said.
Students also connected with nature through an herbalism workshop, where they listened to a pre-recorded guided meditation while surrounded by plants, Scott said. They were then invited to paint in response to their experiences with the plants, with some students painting swirling flowers and snaking lines overlapping splattered dots. Kamilah Zadi, a third-year political science student, said the workshop made her ponder the plants around her and wonder whether they were actually native to the Los Angeles environment.
Students also created masks in a separate workshop with recycled materials like accordion tubing and strips of fluorescent fabric. The workshop did not only encourage students to reuse, but also guided them to consider a future in which humans need headgear to survive in an unhealthy environment, Scott said. Luca MacDougall, a first-year public affairs student, said the workshop changed his own definition of waste into usable materials.
“It introduced me to waste in a way (different from) discarded material,” MacDougall said. “It showed me how to turn waste to something creative and new.”
With items such as small paper dots and old strawberry cutouts, students made mail art in the workshop “A Clear Souvenir” to preserve memories. They put stamps or postage stickers on the outside of clear envelopes and arranged their drawings and paper cutouts inside. Scott said memory ties into “Wasteland” because part of environmental activism is recognizing what we had in the past and what we want to preserve.
“What do we want to protect and what do we remember and what do we feel nostalgic about,” Scott said. “How do we celebrate what we have, but also how do we look to the future and take action?”