Compose LA Makes Mark on Self Help Graphics & Art

Compose LA x Self Help Graphics & Art

Compose LA x Self Help Graphics & Art

By Miranda Ynez

The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) launched “Compose LA” as its inaugural platform to showcase L.A.'s leading contemporary composers, innovative music artists, dynamic thought-leaders, and engaging music spaces across the City. Self Help Graphics & Art was selected as one of these sites to host a special Compose LA activation on February 27, 2019 with multimedia and participatory experience that included a collective songwriting exercise and an exhibition of SHG serigraphs curated by Quetzal and UCLA professor and author Gaye Theresa Johnson.

The event unpacked the ways in which music and visual art addresses issues of race, space, and inequity in communities of color. The audience composed a musical piece using a pedagogy created by Martha Gonzalez with Quetzal. Flores' practice portrays how music, culture, and social activism combine to build community and music in settings varying from intimate audiences to corporate team structures. Queztal, the band, is a Grammy Award winning band, based in East Los Angeles, comprised of highly skilled musicians who tell the social, cultural, political, and musical stories of people in struggle. The band was founded in the late 1990’s by composer Quetzal Flores, with the intention of pushing the boundaries of Chicano music.

Gaye Theresa Johnson is Associate Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies and African American Studies at UCLA. She writes and teaches about race, freedom struggles, cultural history, spatial politics, and political economy. Her first book, Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles (University of California Press) is a history of civil rights and spatial struggles among Brown and Black freedom seekers and cultural workers in LA.

Miranda Ynez is a Self Help Graphics & Art Project Manager and an Arts Management professional committed to increasing participation in the arts and culture through our local communities. Story edited by Jennifer Cuevas.