New life has found its way to the Westfield Valencia Town Center by way of a new art exhibit.
The city of Santa Clarita and NOMAD, a visual arts program, united Saturday to unveil “Art Making for Change: NOMAD LAB.”
The showcase, located on the upper level of the mall near the Sears patio entrance, features collaborative, graffiti-inspired pieces created in an off-the-wall graffiti art class. Participants interested in expressing themselves learn the differences between legal and illegal graffiti.
NOMAD’s art program serves as a deterrent to crime and gang involvement by facilitating instructional and inspirational programs for youth.
“We started in 2010 after years of reorganization in Newhall,” said teaching artist Evelyn Serrano. “We identified a lot of need in terms of having arts in the neighborhood and using the opportunity to use art to have positive change in the community.”
“We’ve been spending the last couple of years figuring out the best way to approach it,” said CalArts student Megan Broughton.
In its infancy, the program partnered with the faculty and student body at California Institute of the Arts to hone a wider variety of artistic dexterity.
“We brought a lot of my students and alumni from CalArts to work with the young people and to create projects that are going to, little by little, set the tone for what the neighborhood could be and will be,” Serrano said.
In the beginning stages of the program, NOMAD movd from vacant apartment to vacant apartment, teaching local youth how to channel negative characteristics through art.
“We’re very sure that the arts are making an impact on individuals and more long-term, the neighborhood,” Serrano said.
“We’ve been working very closely with the city’s community services division to support the program,” she added.
Serrano and her team of local enforcers look to cut a wide swath by offering a colorful variety of classes with a visual arts or hands-on emphasis.
“We even offer cooking and dance (classes) which engage the adult and parental groups,” said CalArts student Alfredo Miranda.
As a long-time visual arts master, Serrano said her equation is simple: Positive reinforcement yields positive behavior.
“We’re here to celebrate our students’ amazing creativity and collaboration. A lot of these projects were created through collaboration and they’re practicing those skills. Our hope is they will put (those skills) to work in their neighborhoods,” Serrano said. “Instead of continuing any sort of negative situations in their neighborhood, they’ll find each other to create positive things and make positive choices.”
“We want as much community involvement as possible so that they can develop a voice together,” Miranda said.