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Students picture politics

By Alexis Matsui

Oct. 13, 2004 9:00 p.m.

The arts have always been used to express opinion, and with such
a heated political climate surrounding citizens this fall,
there’s no better time for the art department to embrace and
cultivate students’ abilities to use art to communicate
political views.

W.H. Lucas, professor of a Design | Media Arts class titled
“UCLA! VOTE,” and Victoria Marks, professor of world
arts and cultures’ “Choreography of Democracy”
have been using political expression as focal points in their
lesson plans this quarter.

“I’m interested in helping students think about
making dances that reflect political discourse,” Marks said.
“Dance can speak very directly about things like the
distribution of power.”

Lucas is taking his students outside the parameters of a
conventional class. Using design methods, the Design 160 class is
working on a campaign to get more UCLA students in the voting

“I am interested to see if a class can help to make others
take an interest,” he said. “We’re using visual
presentation to get our message across.”

In order to develop their marketing strategy, the class first
researched what its major opponents were, and through Internet
research and student interviews, they came up with the following
top five reasons for students not to vote:

1) Voting is not a priority in their lives at this moment.

2) Students don’t feel that their vote will make a

3) Procedures to vote and to vote out of state can be

4) Media confusion makes choosing what to vote for complicated
and difficult.

5) Misconceptions about voting systems are frequent.

To overcome these hurdles, Design 160 students will be creating
posters, distributing information on voting procedures, and
informing peers about the issues involved.

“It was important for this to be an action from students
to students,” said Lucas.

In a slightly more personal way, Marks’ class will also
explore the effects of political climates on students, but will
focus more on the physical representation of those ideas.

“It’s really a process-based class,” she said.
“It’s a class that explores what it means to have a
voice and make an interpretation through dance.”

World arts and cultures students will be working alone, in pairs
and groups to explore different political ideas of dominance and
equity, and will be free to use personal political views in
presenting work.

“It was very important that it’s not a class about a
particular view,” said Marks.

Lucas’ class is also non-partisan, as they are working to
increase the entire voting population, regardless of political

“What will happen on Nov. 2 will have an influence all
over the world,” said Lucas, and his class focuses on getting
students to realize that.

Another aspect of Lucas’ class will be an exploration of
the media and its effects on the political process.

“Different stations will cover election debates, for
example,” he said. “The influence of the media is huge
in this sense.”

Design 160 will be arranged around three action days, the first
of which being on today, four days before the deadline for
registration for the November elections. Lucas is still trying to
develop a way to measure the class’ success in its endeavors,
but he has high hopes for the project.

“It’s an idealistic way of thinking, but I embrace
that with a lot of my students,” he said.

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Alexis Matsui
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