UCLA SOAA Summer Arts Program

FORM Academy created by UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture supports art education and college aspirations with exercises in “Dreaming Identity.”

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FORM Academy created by UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture supports art education and college aspirations with exercises in “Dreaming Identity.”

The Sculpture Lab in the Broad Art Center was abuzz with activity this summer with preparations for a very special exhibit. But instead of UCLA students creating works of bronze, ceramic, and other traditional media for their respective portfolios, the young artists, who were culled from underserved high schools in Los Angeles, were shaping something less tangible yet by no means less significant: dreams of developing their artistic talent and an understanding of what it means to go to college.

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Barbara Drucker, SOAA Associate Dean of Community Engagement and Arts Education, and Michael Aguilar, a UCLA Community School student, discuss his project in the Broad Sculpture Lab at UCLA.

Barbara Drucker, Associate Dean of Community Engagement & Arts Education in UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture, is the founding director of the Visual and Performing Arts Education Program (VAPAE). While leading VAPAE, she established and spearheaded a number of arts education programs that provide UCLA students the opportunity to work with diverse populations of school-age children and youth, such as “Classroom-in-Residence” at the Hammer Museum.  This summer, Drucker, along with Ben Refuerzo, Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in the School of Arts and Architecture created the FORM (Fabricate, Originate, Reimagine, and Make) Academy. They saw a need for more quality summer arts experiences in low-income schools. For this inaugural program, the theme of “Dreaming Identity” guided the six-day academy, which was held Aug. 1-6 at UCLA.

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UCLA Community School students Vanessa Morales (at left) and Leslie Roman learn to drill holes in wood to create stilts as part of the “Walking Taller” project at the FORM Academy.

The FORM Academy exposed 30 students from 18 high schools throughout LAUSD to a variety of resources across campus, including tours of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Earthquake Lab, the Center for the Art of Performance, the Fowler Museum, and the Hammer Museum. Studio Sessions in visual and performing arts were held in Perloff Hall, the Broad Art Center’s Sculpture Lab and Royce Hall. Finally, parents and families were invited to a culminating exhibit and reception on Saturday of that week to view the students’ work.

“The UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture is committed to community engagement and outreach and to providing more arts opportunities for under-served kids,” Drucker said. “SOAA has other summer high school programs in our School that are offered through summer sessions,” she says. “But they all cost $3,000 to $4,000 for two weeks, so that tends to bring in a certain group of kids. Inner city kids don’t have access to those kinds of funds and so they can’t participate.”

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