Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester has launched a model project in its Integrated Learning Program in collaboration with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, college officials said.
At a kickoff event earlier this year at Freedom Hall in the Watts Labor Community Action Committee South Central complex, students presented work that was the culmination of months of cooperation and interdisciplinary teamwork to top Community Action Committee management, Otis officials said.
The Watts Labor Community Action Committee is a nonprofit community-based organization started in 1964 by local labor union members, with the intention of putting their skills and experience to work in the betterment of their community.
Led by John White, professor and coordinator of Otis’s advertising program, students from communication arts, digital media, and fine arts departments divided into three teams and worked as a “brain trust” to create three marketing concepts:
— a small valise containing old photographs, objects, and a book tracing the cultural and social evolution of the neighborhood;
— a silver necklace and key chain, together with a book to be used as an incentive for high-level corporate funders; and
— an animatic for a live-action short film to showcase Watts and the organization’s history and future.
The Community Action Committee Board of Directors will now consider these professional proposals for implementation.
This project is one of more than a dozen undertakings that Otis College’s Integrated Learning Program is conducting this year, according to the college.
“Through Integrated Learning, Otis prepares graduates who are flexible, imaginative, and resourceful,” says Otis College president Samuel Hoi. “As students apply their academic training to civic engagement, they learn that their talent can make a difference in the world.
“Our 21st century creative economy depends on such inventive and responsible leaders.”
Similar to the Watts project, Integrated Learning initiatives focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and site-based problem solving.
Other current projects include engagement with environmental sustainability through the re- design of Playa Vista’s “Friends of Ballona” Restoration Education Center;
The creation of concrete pavers designed and installed by Foundation-level IL students in partnership with the Friends of the L.A. River for the opening of “Rio de Los Angeles Park”; and a presentation to the Cornerstone Theater Company of student work created in response to the methodology and content of their new series of plays, “The Justice Cycle.”
Two years into a four-year launch, the Integrated Learning curriculum impacts every Otis student, college officials said. The program provides all Bachelor of Fine Arts students with a series of collaborative experiences that extends beyond the boundaries of their own major — integrating interdisciplinary skills and knowledge in a public context, according to college officials.
“The creative workplace is increasingly team-oriented, reflecting a world where traditional boundaries between disciplines are changing,” says Marcie Begleiter, director of the Integrated Learning Program. “These changes require new skills.
“Experiences outside the walls of the institution enable our graduates to problem-solve real-world art and design projects.”
Integrated Learning partnerships connect students with environmental leaders such as Friends of the Ballona Wetlands; educational pioneers like The Ocean Charter Waldorf School; and community service organizations such as the Westchester Senior Center, Otis officials said.
The project is part of “Otis Connects,” an institutional program committed to community engagement and central to Otis’s recent designation by the Carnegie Institute as a “Community Engagement” campus, believed to be the only art and design school in the country to be included in this listing, according to Otis.
The Integrated Learning Program is funded in part by the Parsons Foundation, the Metropolitan Water District and Watts Labor Community Action Committee.