Exhibits of Humanity • social justice exhibitions
 
 

Case Study

 

Overview

 

¡Ya Basta! The East L.A. Walkouts and the Power of Protest

Exhibit Title

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes // Los Angeles, CA

Location

9 months

Time Frame

Curated by Senior Curator Erin Curtis and Assistant Curator Esperanza Sanchez in collaboration with Roosevelt High School students participating in the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs Youth Leadership Program and Heart of Los Angeles students and staff.

Collaborators

Our Role

Exhibits of Humanity provided narrative, design and production services including:

  • Facilitating conversations with current LAUSD students on student activism.

  • Creating the 3-dimensional design of the exhibition with graphic design by Debi van Zyl.

  • Overseeing construction, fabrication and installation of exhibition.

Exhibition Description

 

¡Ya Basta! The East L.A. Walkouts and the Power of Protest celebrates the 50th anniversary of the East Los Angeles walkouts and brings the story of this important moment in the history of civil rights to a new generation of students.

 
 

Exhibition Narrative

 

The exhibition is divided into three sections. The first section focuses on the history of the 1968 East L.A. walkouts, including photographs, posters, documents, memorabilia, music, film footage, and contemporary art. The second section explores the outcomes of the walkouts and its legacy, as well as highlighting contemporary student protests such as in Parkland, Florida. The third section encourages visitors to become involved in social justice, with a focus on youth visitors who may have no previous experience in activism.

 
 

Design

Color & Texture

We wanted the exhibition to reflect school life of the 1960s. We chose colors and textures prevalent during that time, such has highlighter yellow, pink, green and blue as well as textures such as chain link fence which is prevalent in many historical photographs of the walkouts.

 

Visual Texture

We created visual texture in the gallery by papering an entire wall with the 1968 list of student demands and creating a supergraphic of a government memo from the walkouts.

 
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Utilizing Existing Architecture

We utilized existing gallery architecture, such as the small doorway between Gallery I and II, to build a jail cell doorway. This design feature coincides with the section on the incarceration of some walkout organizers.

 
 

Visitor Engagement

 

Locker Interactive

The locker interactive came out of a conversation we had with Roosevelt High School students participating in the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs Youth Leadership Program. When we asked students if they considered themselves activists, three of the fifteen students raised their hands. This sparked a conversation about what it means to be an activist, what roadblocks keep students from participating in social activism, and how the exhibition could support and encourage students to become politically active.

Inspired by this conversation, we developed the locker interactive to address the common excuses we heard in regards to students abstaining from political participation. Each locker door is labeled with an excuse, such as "I'm too quiet," "I don't have time," and "I don't want to get in trouble." Visitors are invited to open the locker doors and learn about how to overcome each hinderance, such as staying informed by keeping up on the news, being a more conscious consumer, and writing to your representatives.

 
 

Index Card Participatory Interactive

To compliment the locker interactive, the LA Plaza wanted to learn how visitors were influenced by the exhibition, as well as encouraging dialogue between visitors. In keeping with the school aesthetic, we designed a "classroom within the gallery," providing school desks and chairs for visitors to sit in while writing their response to the question, how will you stand up against injustice? on an index card. These cards were then attached to the gallery wall with binder clips for other visitors to read. On the adjacent wall, we created a chalkboard that highlights the long trajectory of some of the 1968 student demands being implemented in the Los Angeles Unified School District.