About the UCLA @ SPARC Digital Mural Lab

 

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Professor Judy Baca teaching Beyond Mexican Mural Course
 

The UCLA@SPARC Digital/Mural Lab led by UCLA Professor Judith F. Baca is the leading research, teaching and production facility in the country devoted to the creation of large-scale digitally generated murals, public art productions, and community cultural development practices. The Lab is located in a community setting (the Old Venice Police Station) a forty year old non-profit, Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC).

In a sequence of 8 courses offered in three departments at undergraduate and graduate levels, students work in community settings with local community members on important issues engaging their imagination and academic research to produce permanent public artworks that tell the stories of diverse communities. While dreaming hopeful solutions, these public artworks articulate solutions to difficult problems such as low achievement in the LAUSD schools, immigration, dropout rates, racial violence, substance abuse and economic disparity in Los Angeles neighborhoods.

The Lab experiments with emerging technologies developing new methods for combining traditional art techniques with digitally generated imagery. It collaborates across distance with local, national and international communities and artists to create public art that examines the concerns of a particular community. Extensive work has been done to develop new methods of preservation and restoration for mural art nationally.

All work takes place in the context of critical philosophical and analytical dialogues on contemporary issues. Through service-based learning projects students are enabled to work in interdisciplinary collaborative teams researching and engaging in community issues while developing skills for the actualization of public monuments in Los Angeles.

All work takes place in the context of critical philosophical and analytical dialogues on contemporary issues. Through service-based learning projects students are enabled to work in interdisciplinary collaborative teams researching academic subjects and community issues to develop skills for the actualization of public monuments in Los Angeles.

Students have the access to a unique combination of tools within the Lab facility including meeting spaces, kitchen, and 12 Mac fully graphically equipped stations with a shared server and high image storage capacity. Software utilized for teaching includes, professional graphic design programs: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Corel Painter. Video production and 3D rendering programs makes the lab equipped for visualizations of public artworks in situ before completion. The Lab is fully equipped with Apple Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, ProTools, and Autodesk Maya software packages. The lab hosts its own Internal Web, File, and email servers to create an environment that is highly flexible and customizable for creative, educational, community engaged projects.

Defining characteristics of the Lab are: 1) Activist and problem solving, 2) Project based and product driven, 3) Learner centered, 4) Collaborative and 5) Interdisciplinary.

The Lab:

  • Combines art with issues of social policy, historical investigation and academic research
  • Teaches both theory and practice of muralism as an aesthetic tool for cultural representation
  • Teaches collaborative processes inherent to community activism & organizing
  • Teaches state of the art digital imaging techniques and continuously develops innovative art education curriculum for K-12 youth engagement with UCLA undergraduate and graduate students with particular emphasis on at risk youth
  • Develops new techniques for combining traditional mural painting techniques with computer- generated imagery
  • Collaborates with local, national and international communities to create public art expressing the concerns of diverse communities
  • Innovates new techniques in visualization and presentation of public art through 3d and video virtual presentations
  • Innovates methods for collaboration across distance with artist and community members on community based artworks through the internet
  • Develops new methods of preservation and restoration for mural art through the use of digital prints on new substrates
  • Students engage in critical analysis of policy issues related to public art, community advocacy & empowerment
  • Hosts visiting artists and international visitors
  • Provides a pathway for students to work in the in the expanding (201.1 Billion dollar) Los Angeles creative economy

 

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