Summer Arts Workshop Builds Bridge to Local Community

Students in the Marital and Family Therapy program at Loyola Marymount University have the opportunity to implement the skills they learned in the Summer Arts Workshop. The workshop, now in its seventh year, is an interdisciplinary, weeklong collaboration between LMU students and junior high school students at Dolores Mission School in Boyle Heights.

“The workshop is helping LMU students create bridges to the community in Los Angeles,” said Jessica Bianchi, faculty member in the Art and Art History Department and co-director of the workshop. “Students are exposed to working with a population that is increasingly relevant to the Los Angeles population. To be a good therapist or artist, you have to be culturally aware of everyone in your community.”

About 12 to 15 junior high school students are paired with eight mentors who are graduate students in the art therapy program or undergraduate art students. The curriculum is developed by the mentors and is based on themes relating to identity development and exploration. Each morning, the junior high students and the mentors work on an art project that culminates in a final art show at the end of the week. In the afternoons, the students swim at Burns Recreation Center.

“All young people should have an equitable opportunity to be exposed to the arts and education,” Bianchi said. “Many of the students have limited access to resources and we want them to experience what it’s like to be on a college campus and to know it’s possible for them.”

The art project this year was to create a large-scale acrylic self-portrait based on identity. The students and mentors built, stretched and primed their own individual canvases and then manipulated a photographic portrait with newly learned Photoshop skills, incorporating ideas of social justice. These images were gridded and transferred with acrylic paint on to the 4 foot by 4 foot canvas.

“The students were able to create rich, meaningful and culturally-relevant artwork that was matched with using technical skills,” Bianchi said. “The workshop has had a meaningful and positive impact for both the junior high students and the LMU students.”

Below are examples of some of the artwork that the junior high school students created.

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