Partner and Undergraduate Mentor
Instructor Gina Valona partnered with Painted Brain "to create lasting community-based solutions to mental health challenges and the impact of social injustice through arts, advocacy, and enterprise." Through an emergent curriculum, students learned how to use Human Centered Design and Socially Engaged Art Practices to facilitate relationships with individuals and organizations within a site-specific community. Throughout the semester, students learned effective communication and engagment techniques, project management skills, how to implement a social and/or community engaged event and how to balance the needs of all partners involved in the production of public art.
The course included exercises in empathy building, deep listening, negotiating both private and public spheres, and equitable co-creation. The particular challenge with which students were tasked was learning how to locate “self” on the mental health spectrum and give consideration to how “expert self history and knowledge" informed their research, relationships, proposed solutions and final engagement with the work. During this phase, special attention was given to the concept of stigma and the importance for the artist/designer practicing critical self-care when working within a mental health framework.
The partnership culminated with students implementing several real-world outcomes throughout the course of the semester. These outcomes included a public art Mental Health Awareness poster campaign, which exhibited in the ART on PICO kiosks located in Mid-City Los Angeles. In additiona, there was an interior re-design and re-launch of the Painted Brain Community Center reception area and boutique, a re-design of the Painted Brain storefront signage, and two socially engaged art events that inclued a photo booth and props, a pop-up boutique and a community mural.
Pascaline Doucin-Dahlke: Artist advising
Kelly Hargraves: REDCAT
Eric Kogler: Artist advising
Anthony Valadez: KCRW and Tune In
Special thanks to Student Mentor Leyna Lightman, Teaching Assistant Annette Nino, and the Painted Brain Community: David Leon, David Israelian, Ashley Payne, Kevin Naruse, James Giaquinto for their advocacy, bravery and willingness to take risks and play with us during this project!