‘I Too Am’ Critical Makers Lab
The Critical Makers Lab (CML) addresses pressing social needs around arts, media and entertainment education at a moment when COVID-19 has made remote online learning a necessity for all students, while at the same time disproportionately impacting teachers and students in low income areas and among our neighbors around USC. The CML offers an extended learning and enrichment opportunity for 8-12th grade students from South LA schools. We meet weekly to facilitate youth participation in critical making projects revolving around questions of identity, community, and belonging. The lab is driven by a series of questions, asking youth to reflect on who they are and how they can represent themselves, their communities, and their stories. We are currently working with 4 local schools and one after school program, reaching approximately 185 middle and high school youth. The program consists of a series of 6 thematic modules led by USC professors and USC student mentors. See the video overview below:
I Too Am: Teens, Media Arts, Belonging
‘I Too Am’: Teens, Media Arts, & Belonging brings together faculty and students from Annenberg and Cinema’s Media Arts + Practice Division with teachers and students from three Los Angeles high schools, providing youth with critical and creative tools to share stories about identity and belonging in the face of transitions and displacement. Youth address the question: ‘what is my story?’ as it relates to place, race, and class, considering what it means to be an American, a Californian, an Angeleno, and part of a local community. Field trips transport youth to varied geographic environs, asking them to reflect on the way place speaks to us based on our backgrounds, shaping who we are, and how we see our own communities through a new lens. High-school students document their experiences, presenting them in a culminating event that collectively reflects on the impact of demographic and social change on community and place.
I Too Am Media Festival
The I Too Am Media Festival showcases media created by Los Angeles high school youth, and provides a platform for community reflection and discussion. With a focus on identities, these projects collectively consider visibility and invisibility in popular media, and the power of self- representation as a marker of belonging and reclaiming space. We hope to empower youth in the practice of storytelling as civic engagement. Most importantly, we want young people to harness the power of media in order to affirm who they are, who they hope to be, and envision the world they wish to inhabit. The festival included guest visits from activist Edna Chavez and actor-musician, Brett Gray as well as workshops focused on zine-making, music production and storyboarding.