For the past eight months, Culver City High School Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) students Camila Fernandez and Peri Reynaldo have trekked from CCHS to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) every Friday afternoon to participate in LACMA’s High School Internship Program. This highly prestigious program offers a small group of students from L.A.-area public schools an opportunity to be introduced to the museum and its exhibitions and staff, take part in special projects, and visit with exhibiting artists. Through training sessions, participants gain knowledge about exhibition and gallery teaching techniques and work on public-speaking skills. At the conclusion of their training, interns lead exhibition tours for younger students and peers.
On Thursday, April 19, Camila and Peri gave their first docent tours to a group of fellow CCHS art students, and CCUSD school board members and administrators. Each intern chose her favorite pieces of art for the tour. They researched the history of these pieces and pondered their meaning.
Peri opened her tour by asking everyone to consider every aspect of each piece of art. “My theme is how form and gestures in pieces create emotion and ideas. I ask you to consider every aspect of the paintings.” The first piece of art was Ellsworth Kelly’s 1972 Blue Curve III oil on canvas. “What does this make you think of and feel?” Peri asked her classmates. The answers were much more complex than the apparent simplicity of the artwork. “An ocean horizon line.” “Vast.” “Cold.” “Robot music –wonder.”
Moving on to another piece of art that had much more color and movement in it, Peri asked, “What parts of this are intentional? What parts not? What do you see in it? “A sense of urgency.” “Chaos.” “Fire,” were some answers. After the group learned that the scene of the painting was East 9th St. in Chicago, the word “windy” came into play.
The CCHS internship program is sponsored in part by Culver City-based Sony Pictures Entertainment. Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Social Responsibility for Sony, Janice Pober, attends the docent tour every year. “I support this program because I remember being a young girl and enjoying art and having questions about it,” she says. “Giving these students the opportunity to look at art, learn about art, talk about art – it’s magical. And they are comfortable talking to their peers, so they begin to develop leadership skills by touring their fellow students around.”
The program can have a profound influence on the students who take the tour as well. CCHS junior Chris Galvez, a student in Kristine Hatanaka’s drawing and painting class, exited the school bus with a sense of wide-eyed wonder. He had never visited LACMA before. He was on Camila’s tour. As they stood in front of Picasso’s 1923 Woman with Blue Veil, Chris opined, “The red background conveys a sense of violence. But the blue veil seems to offer her protection from that fate, while also demonstrating that she will always carry that
burden.” This from a young man who had never been to LACMA but was inspired to express himself in thoughtful and insightful ways by experiencing the art with his own eyes.
Peri and Camila were chosen from among 140 applicants this year. There are 13 more interns from other schools. “The application process is extremely rigorous, but every year I encourage my students to apply,” says Hatanaka, Co-Director of AVPA and Creative Director of the Visual Art program, who added that nearly 50 CCHS students have been through this program in the last 16 years. “LACMA changes people’s lives.”
Most of the students who participate in this internship go on to careers in the arts. The list of professions is as impressive and varied as LACMA’s art collection: a toy designer, a graphic designer on the innovation team for Adidas global brand design, an archivist at Paramount Pictures, art teachers and working artists, set designers, graphic designers, technology product designers, an animator, a forester and even a doctor.
On Saturday, April 28, the LACMA internship program will host a free teen night, “After Dark,” from 7:30-10:00 p.m. All CCHS students are invited to attend. LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036. The evening is for high school students only, and reservations are required. Details on the event are available at: www.lacma.org/event/teen-night-high-school.
Photo Caption – AVPA Art Intern Camila Fernandez presenting to CCHS students.