The Hieroglyph Project is a public art installation that I will create in collaboration with the community in South Central LA’s Crenshaw District. I have been collecting ephemera, news, and images in and of my neighborhood that will become the source material for the project. The installation will consist of a series of rooms covered in hieroglyphic-style carvings, an atrium with seating for the public, and a small garden area. I will hire people in my community to help construct the large-scale installation on an empty lot in the Crenshaw District (where I'm seen standing in the video above), which will be transformed into a visual archive of the neighborhood.
Upon entering the last room of the structure, visitors will be invited to make their own “hieroglyphs” by carving into a series of blank panels. This will serve as a medium for the public to express personal narratives, share important news, honor community leaders, celebrate events, and leave obituaries or memorials. It is necessary that we, as residents of South Central LA, author our own stories. Adapting the ancient hieroglyph as a metaphor for power, futurity, and permanence allows community members the freedom to commemorate and monumentalize themselves in a public artwork.
What else will happen?
The installation will also be used as a space for meetings, workshops, lectures, readings, outdoor concerts, and celebrations hosted by local community leaders and artists. There will be both curated programs and open calls for the public to participate. Some of the programs will specifically aim to facilitate dialogue about the gentrification that is happening rapidly throughout our neighborhoods, and the ways in which we can prevent gentrifiers from reimagining our community. Other programs will seek to inspire facilitate meaningful discourse between the local community and greater Los Angeles. All events at the Hieroglyph Project will be free and open to everyone!
Why is this important?
The ultimate goals of the Hieroglyph Project are to inspire liberation, self-definition, healing, and community building through the emancipatory narratives inscribed into the hieroglyph walls. I will document and inscribe into panels the plural experience of communities in South Central LA, describing iconographies, aesthetic styles, informal economies, leisure activities, celebrations, oppression and local histories. It is my hope that the images and narratives engraved by the public will inspire productive dialogues about liberation for South Central LA from within. In this way, the Hieroglyph Project will provide a public platform to challenge familiar narratives of oppression that reinforce states of inferiority, stereotypes, and invisibility in our communities.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I took my first art class in the 12th grade, and was deeply inspired by a project on hieroglyphs. I went on to practice art and architecture at El Camino Community College for four years, CalArts, and Yale University, where I began to focus on rethinking and remixing the built environment through art in my neighborhoods of South Central LA and the Eastside. I continued this work as an Artist-In-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem and in the Session residency program at Recess.
My recent projects include building a float titled “Pride In Our Neighborhood” for the 31st Annual Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade, which took place on January 18, 2016. It was a float that paid homage to local businesses, landmarks, and leaders in the neighborhood. The 50-foot float was assembled by volunteers in my neighborhood, childhood friends, and family members across multiple generations in LA, some of whom rode on the float during the procession down Crenshaw Boulevard.
Kickstarter allows a very diverse range of people from all over the world to get involved in the process of building the Hieroglyph Project from the very beginning. It is exciting and inspiring to engage people from all walks of life in the creation of new narratives and images of South Central LA, authored by the people of South Central LA. Please join me in supporting the construction of The Hieroglyph Project, and sharing positive and affirming new narratives about the Crenshaw District with a global community!
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges I may face are time related. I will need the time to draw and carve into the hieroglyph walls, form relationships and hire community members, organize programming and, lastly, construct the large-scale installation to fire code and safety regulations. Though my team and I will work daily to complete the Hieroglyph Project, I can not foresee the exact amount of time it will take to install the artwork on the lot. However, because of my experience in building large-scale installations on strict deadlines, I am confident that the Hieroglyph Project will be produced powerfully, on time, and on budget!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter