My second Drive Thru Crit was with H. who brought me to her birthplace Wilmington.
"Most people go the other way but I go South when I go home." H. has a background in Fine Arts. Graphic design was far from her mind then, and neither was it recognised by her teachers as anything of value – "graphic design was the enemy". Looking back on her three years at the MFA program of Otis, H. can now say that graphic design has become a tool, a way of operating for her– it helps her to organize her ideas, and to trace their lineage. It's also made her realize how muddled her ideas were before.
H. spent most of her teenage school time in Wilmington 'roaming around' - which came down to "walking in and out of every shop, buying a hot dog, going to the beach and making sure you're home before 4 pm so it looks like you came straight from school"...
Wilmington was once one of LA's most notorious gang incubators. Growing up there as a girl meant regularly "hitting the pavement" on the way home to avoid drive-by shootings, learning how to show respect, bodily and verbally, and developing strategies to earn street credibility. "Gang knowledge is about knowing which part of town belongs to which gang."
Most of all, H. found it hard to gain access to artistic knowledge and skills. This is also the topic of H.'s graduation project, for which she is developing an educational program for teengirls growing up in similar, underprivileged conditions. "Part of what I want to do is let them know they are not limited. I want their ambitions to feed the program's curriculum."
Stuart Bailey, co-editor of Dot Dot Dot Magazine and one of her mentors at Otis neatly summarized the way limitations can work for you: "A punk rock gitar has just three chords, but from these all other things are born."