Friday & Saturday, March 5-6, 2010

Calvary Chapel, Biola University

Affectionately referred to as the “Creative Capital of the World,” Los Angeles is a major arts center of international repute, geographically positioned to be a significant contributor to 21st century culture. Biola University is located in Los Angeles County, a metropolitan area of over nine million people representing more than 100 nations. In the fall of 2009, Biola launched an interdisciplinary Urban Studies major (art, sociology, and social science) that takes Biola back to the city. As a result, this year’s art symposium focuses on the metropolis and how artists interact with it.

This year’s symposium offers a stimulating but diverse group of gifted artists and speakers discussing various questions concerning art and the city. The relationship between artistic practice and the city will be addressed from three distinct arenas. Friday evening’s session with Charlene Melhorn and Paul Hebblethwaite will focus on the power of art in the lives of the disadvantaged. In densely urban areas—where a culture’s most striking achievements and most significant dysfunctions are both prominently on display—art offers one possible means to positively engage individuals who are on the social margins.

Saturday morning, internationally known public artist, Janet Echelman, and her colleague, Marc Pally, will demonstrate the potency of public art with inspiring stories and images. Visual art plays a considerable role in shaping the public space of the city—space that is inherently aesthetic and value-laden. What opportunities and responsibilities do artists have regarding the construction and care of local public spaces?

Saturday afternoon, Liza Simone and Lynn Aldrich will challenge us to think about ways to connect with and contribute to the established Los Angeles contemporary art scene. Current visual language and artistic practice is intricately enmeshed in the dynamics, issues, and concerns of the 21st-century metropolis. The major institutions of “high” cultural discourse, in which the visual arts play a significant role (e.g. - art museums, galleries, universities, publications), are situated in and sustained by major city centers. How does (and should) contemporary urban space shape artistic discourse, and how might artists be good stewards of this discourse? The symposium concludes with a robust discussion concerning the interplay of these diverse models.