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'We are Los Angeles' explores the diverse problems of the SoCal region through art




"We are Los Angeles" logo.
Courtesy California Community Foundation

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If you've been to Grand Park in downtown L.A. in the past week, you may have noticed some large and colorful angel sculptures on display.

Alvaro Marquez's angel at the
Alvaro Marquez's angel at the "We are Los Angeles" exhibit at Grand Park.
Giovanni Solis

They're part of a temporary exhibit titled "We are Los Angeles" which features the work of 30 L.A. county artists. Each angel explores a pressing issue facing the SoCal region.

The exhibit is sponsored by the California Community foundation which aims to strengthen Los Angeles communities through philanthropy and civic engagement.

"California Migration" angel sculpture at the "We are Los Angeles" exhibit at Grand Park.
Giovanni Solis

A Martinez had the chance to chat with two artists whose work is featured in the exhibit, Álvaro D. Marquez and Miyo Stevens-Gandara.

Emotional Baggage

Because Marquez has struggled with mental illness, he decided to tackle the theme in his angel sculpture. Last year he was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward twice, "that was the impetus for me to tackle this very personal subject," he said,  "and to connect it to a broader structural critique of the mental health system and the lack of access to those resources."

Emotional Baggage

"The theme was very much inspired with this idea of destigmatizing questions of mental health and for me, coming from a working-class immigrant family myself and being a man of color, there's a lot of shame to this idea of needing help and being weak. 

So, the piece was directly speaking to that. To try to create a piece of work that could connect with people emotionally and get across this idea that there's really nothing wrong with you personally if you have a mental illness, and there's nothing wrong with getting help."

Artist Alvaro Marquez stands next to his angel,
Artist Alvaro Marquez stands next to his angel, "Emotional Baggage" at the "We are Los Angeles" exhibit at Grand Park.
Giovanni Solis

California Migration

Stevens-Gandara's angel sculpture takes a look at immigration in the city of Los Angeles and how it's an important part of our legacy. "I'm trying to communicate that migration is natural," said Stevens-Gandara, "and a normal occurrence that is necessary."

California Migration

"I wanted to do something to address, some of the feelings I had about migration and the fact that we have this climate nowadays that is very critical of immigrants. 

One side of my angel has my family's migration story. My great great grandfather stowed away on a boat to come to the United states and on the opposite side of that there's a desert migration and it's the story of a family migrating from Mexico to the United States through the desert."

Artist Miyo Stevens-Gandara stands next to her angel,
Artist Miyo Stevens-Gandara stands next to her angel, "California Migration", at the "We are Los Angeles" exhibit at Grand Park.
Giovanni Solis

The last day to see "We are Los Angeles" in Grand Park is Thursday. For more information, click here.

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