As you may remember around this time last year, I packed my bags and moved downtown for a spell as part of an intense immersive experience for the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship. Last year, I and my fellow fellows were carted all over LA, dipping our toes to the “distinct cultural cauldron” that is Los Angeles: spinning teacups, hiding in Ed Moses paintings, playing Julius Shulman and eating scorpions.
This year, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the fellowship, USC and the Getty has invited back 28 fellows from the past 10 years to collaborate on six arts journalism projects at a pop-up arts journalism lab called Engine29. So today I’m heading back downtown to meet 27 incredible arts journalists and investigate new ways to produce, share and revolutionize arts journalism.
Our project, named A Moving Experience, is led by a team consisting of myself, Studio 360 producer Michele Siegel, and culture and travel writer Joshua Samuel Brown. And I’m absolutely thrilled to reveal today what we’ll be studying during the fellowship:
Art doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s shaped by its context, influenced by its surroundings, embedded in the culture of people who live around it. LA culture is often thought of as being defined by its transportation, particularly its cars and freeways. But reconsiderations of urban design, the Slow Journalism Movement (think “Slow Food’), and a kind of DIY, experiential, contextual appreciation of art and culture suggests a more analog , more visceral approach to the arts might be in order. This group starts with LA where it lives—transportation—and suggests a different context in which to consider its arts and culture. Bicycles, walking, public transit—how you access culture affects the ways in which you see it. As arts journalists, can we step back (and paradoxically get closer) to the culture of the city we’re in? If so, how do we convey that as journalists?
Obviously I could not be more excited about our topic, especially the fact that Joshua and Michele will also be biking, walking and taking transit everywhere in LA as we do our reporting. But I need your help! If there’s something happening here in LA over the next few days that fuses art, transportation and urban culture, please let me know in the comments. I hope to chronicle some of what we uncover here and on Twitter. But for the next week or so, please direct your unfettered attention over to Engine29.org to check out what all of us are up to. And I’ll see you on the streets!