Position Seeking: City Council – District 5
Question 1: Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts) while growing up and its impact on you.
I spent a very hot, humid summer punctuated by monsoon rains in southeastern India, teaching art and poetry in several orphanages for children ranging from newborns to age eighteen. Many of these children had never held scissors in their hands; none of them had ever been pushed to explore their creative intellect. For our final project, I had the older children write poems about “home.” “Simple poems,” I told them, hoping that they would remain undaunted by this assignment. As I looked through their work, I came across one girl who wrote, quite simply, “Give me a home to leave.”
Growing up, my family spent every summer and winter on road trips across the Southwestern United States and Mexico. Along the road, we picked up prints by O’Keeffe, Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros, and Kahlo. We picked up books by Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo, Julio Cortazar, Garcia Lorca, and Sor Juana, among others. As I grew older, I studied the work of Botero, Lam, Tamayo and Dali, Marquez, Borges and Bolaño, trying to understand the intersection between art and the written word.
To narrow down the list of meaningful experiences with art is to undermine the accumulating effect art has had on my life. But there in India, teaching Shel Silverstein to an assembly of children who were raised on rote memorization, every day was a breakthrough. Like children learning to walk, their art grew confident, and their language more bold.
Question 2: What do you believe the role of City Council should be in developing and supporting the region’s arts and cultural infrastructure?
Pasadena is unique for its educational, civic, business, nonprofit and cultural institutions. We have the Official State Theater of California, the ArtCenter College of Design, the Norton Simon Museum, The Huntington Library, The Armory Center for the Arts. These are resources that are underutilized as opportunities to increase engagement and promote mentorships among our youth. The arts are a rallying point for our community and through them, we can stem the growth of gangs and the violence on our streets. The City Council doesn’t only have decision-making power, but it also has a social platform on which it can promote our public spaces as centers of culture and community.
Question 3: What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does art and culture play in advancing that vision?
Several lots and buildings in Pasadena’s District 5 have remained vacant over the years. Our part of the city is a younger, more diverse region, and our storefronts have potential to become home to more nonprofits, community centers and homegrown businesses. The opportunities for revitalization are at every corner, and we need a council member ready to lead that revitalization with an emphasis on community building.
Questions 4: A recent report by the Otis College of Design found that 1 in every 6 jobs in LA County supports the creative sector and economy in Los Angeles County. If elected, how will you aim to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy and the artistic community that it supports?
Pasadena is home to countless artists, actors, writers, academics, filmmakers, and so on. Our city needs to encourage those making art within the community through affordable housing, mentorship programs, job partnerships, co-working spaces, and educational campaigns. I look forward to using my platform to promote the arts economy in our community throughout my term.