You are here

Otis Alumni and the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015

Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015
Kent Twitchell and Alia Al-Harithi

Otis alumni have been deeply involved in the preparation for this year’s Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015.

Renowned muralist and Otis alumnus Kent Twitchell (’77, MFA) was commissioned by Toyota to commemorate the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. He decided to paint iconic champions Loretta Claiborne and Rafer Johnson.

Loretta Claiborne was born partially blind and unable to walk or talk until the age of 4. However, early on in her life she began to run, and despite her disabilities, eventually went on to finish 26 marathons, twice placing among the top 100 women in the Boston Marathon. She introduced President Bill Clinton at the 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games, has won medals in dozens of its events, and also holds the current women's record in her age group for the 5000 meters at 17 minutes.

Rafer Johnson made his decathlon début in 1954 and the following year won the Pan American Games title and set the first of his three world decathlon records. Johnson, who competed for UCLA and the Southern California Striders, won the AAU decathlon in 1956, 1958, and 1960. He was injured at the 1956 Games, which forced him to withdraw from the Olympic long jump. After his retirement in 1960 Johnson went on to enjoy a fairly successful acting career. On June 5, 1968, the fateful night of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Rafer Johnson, along with George Plimpton and former professional football player Rosey Grier, are credited with wrestling Sirhan Sirhan to the ground after Sirhan shot the Senator.


Left: Kent Twitchell brushing on very transparent glazes of orange, blue, yellow and finally brown to add life and deepen the color
of his portrait of Rafer Johnson. Photo: Gil Ortiz

Right: Kent Twitchell stands with the legendary Rafer Johnson in front of his mural of Johnson and Loretta Claiborne. Photo: Gil Ortiz

Otis alumna and current Art Director for the Special Olympics at Davis Elen Advertising in Los Angeles, Alia Al-Harithi (‘14, MFA Graphic Design) was, along with other Otis students in the Graduate Graphic Design program, directly involved in creating the logo and branding identity for the games. Alia has been working for Davis Elen since graduating from Otis with her MFA in graphic design 2 years ago.

The most recent work her team has created is what she is most proud of. “The idea was to get people pumped up and ready for the arrival of these amazing athletes, and to come and watch them compete,” she says. Here are some of the billboards and postings they created:


Also see MFA Graphic Design Students and Special Olympics 2015 spotlight

About Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 (LA2015)
With 6,500 athletes and 2,000 coaches representing 165 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games – being staged in Los Angeles July 25-August 2, 2015 – will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony, to be held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. On April 30, 2014, LA2015 and ESPN announced a global programming deal that will see ESPN bring coverage of World Games to millions of fans around the world. Honorary Chairs of the Games are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown serving as Honorary Hosts.

Current Founding Champions and sponsors include The Coca-Cola Company, Mattel, Deloitte, Toyota, Bank of America, Kaiser Permanente, OUE Skyspace Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Davis Elen Advertising, Microsoft, Toys“R”Us, The Walt Disney Company, Google, UPS, Herbalife Nutrition, Los Angeles Times, AMC Theaters, La Opinión, Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, WWE, Los Angeles News Group, AEG, Annenberg Foundation, David Geffen, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Panda Express, LA84 Foundation, and Knights of Columbus. LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee, is a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit and on social with #ReachUpLA  on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.