The Soap Block Project emerged out of a 4-day workshop with a nomadic collective, FIELD EXPERIMENTS, during the 2015 Otis College of Art and Design, Design Week.
FIELD EXPERIMENTS is comprised of three designers (Benjamin Harrison Bryant, Paul Marcus Fuog, Karim Charlebois-Zariffa) who live in different parts of the world but come together annually to design, make and iterate.
With the goal of the INGLEWOOD SOUVENIR SHOP in mind, the class was led into the field and introduced to the collectives methodologies of making.
The SOAP BLOCK PROJECT was derived using methodologies of the collective to create work using the materials found in the community. Specifically, LIRIO soap found at the local Fred's Discount Store (whose real name is Faramarz actually).
The soap blocks were carved by participants of the Chuco's Justice Center in Inglewood. A community center with diverse programming doing justice work on many platforms whom I had the honor to meet and work.
Participants were asked to reflect and carve out words or images reminiscent of Inglewood.
The work was installed in the INGLEWOOD SOUVENIR SHOP, a pop up exhibition at Otis College of Art and Design. The work is available to exhibit with any and all proceeds generated to be invested back into the community center.
D is for Drought is a project to expand vocabulary and understanding around this topical issue. Sourcing inspiration and words for a designed book from politicians, farmers, scientists, teachers, children, artists others - the project encourages individuals to do their part in protecting water, one of our greatest resources.
Sewn flora floated on the Venice canals in Venice, CA.
(performance captured in rapid motion 16 min)
I planted the trees on my family’s farm at the age of five with my dad and. Dad would prepare the ground while we were at school and when we returned he would place the tree while we surrounded its roots with dirt. Walnuts were our primary crop. We had several varieties including Chandler, Hartley, Tulares and Vinas. It took us nearly three weeks to plant the farm, nearly one thousand trees. Once they were sealed in the ground we then had to prime the trees with white paint. You paint the stump up to the neck to protect the trees early skin from the sun and from bugs. I grew up caring for the trees throughout the seasons: pruning as needed, going out at odd hours of the night to hold the flashlight while my dad irrigated and picking the walnuts by during the early years of harvest. My parents both had day jobs, dad worked graveyard at a tire factory and my mom was a high school Spanish teacher. With four daughters, the farm was an investment in our future and the place where we would gain a strong work ethic, appreciation for the land and learn to drive a truck at the age of 8. My dad taught me how to put the vehicle in drive and reverse creeping slowly through the rows after a big pruning. Because my older sister did not get the hang of driving early on, my job was to cruise through the field slowly as she loaded the truck bed with branches. I have come to learn that the average walnut tree can grow to be a century old. The trees on my farm suffered an early death at the tender age of 28, in large part due to the drought.
Projections regarding drought onto the walls of my hometown, Laton, CA. 2015
I was invited back to the Chucos Justice Center to present a second iteration of the SOAP BLOCK PROJECT workshop to kick off the alternative high school programs WARRIOR WEEK.
The workshop involved over forty youth and teachers.
Otis MFA Graphic Design, Design Week 2016 Workshop with Martin Huberman and Arial Lisio. Final installation at LAX International Airport.
CROP COLLECTIVE PRODUCTION
Chelo Montoya + Paola Gil + Carolina Ybarra Mendoza
Crop Collective produced the culminating event for Mel Chin's project: The TIE that BINDS, presented by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs for the CURRENT: LA Water Public Art Biennial, Summer 2015.
The production involved event management, rentals, event design, and production of program including three bands and acknowledgements. Crop Collective produced a special edition silkscreen project at Modern Multiples which featured native plants drawn by the artist and imprinted in large scale on the event tablecloths. For the table tops we worked with Ceramic Studio 153 to create arrangements using the native plants featured in the project.
The event was a culmination of a monthlong project focusing on collective water savings via native plant gardening. Carolina of Crop Collective was also involved throughout the project as a Mirror Maker and Chelo as Mirror Maker an partnership advisor to the project with the Otis MFA Public Practice program.
Typographic publication regarding climate change based on the elements and the risks they presently face. Each section contains curated articles that cover issues such as drought, glaciation, hurricane, earthquakes, volcanoes and so on. The book is an effort to raise awareness and relate the interconnectedness of these issues and the global impact they have.
PRODUCED BY CROP COLLECTIVE
Paola Gil + Carolina Ybarra Mendoza + Chelo Montoya
Lead designer for the development of exhibition identity and design. We worked closely with the curators to develop a look that reflected both the activist nature of the theme as well as the eco friendly attitude.
Crop produced the invitation postcard, vinyl wall didactics that marked the context of the space in addition to matching info cards for each artwork and a tabloid size handout that featured a duotone image and description for each artwork featured.