Using cultural strategies to bring Creative Resilience to life
The Community Discussions
Spitfire partnered with the People’s Project, a Los Angeles nonprofit powered by the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, to produce Creative Resilience, an artful community experience that amplified the voices of BIPOC Angeleno workers, sounded the call for economic justice and celebrated the city’s vibrant cultural history of resilience. The 10-day event took place in October 2022 in the heart of Los Angeles’ bustling arts district. For the project, Spitfire transformed a 10,000-square-foot raw warehouse space into a creative hub and gathering space full of joy and celebration focused on economic and racial justice. Spitfire commissioned work from 50 artists and performers and brought together activists, celebrities and local leaders to celebrate the working people who make up the heart and soul of Los Angeles.
Against the backdrop of this beautifully designed art space, Spitfire curated a broad mix of provocative and engaging conversations led by Angeleno activists, community leaders and artists on a range of topics affecting Los Angeles workers today.
The first of two robust conversations was titled “What’s at Stake for 2022 Elections?.” This panel discussion was moderated by “Queen Sugar” lead actress Dawn-Lyen Gardner and included music, film and content producer Richie Reseda, Ph.D.; writer/producer, journalist, professor and pop culture collaborative senior fellow Maytha Alhassen; and Spitfire’s Wyatt Closs, senior vice president of Creative and Cultural Strategies for the firm and also the producer of Creative Resilience. Dawn-Lyen eloquently guided this panel of dynamic speakers through what she called “radical dreaming” as she asked each participant to envision a future worth fighting for, where Black and brown people no longer feel the weight of oppression and inequities placed on them by this country’s political structure. As politicians continue to roll back our rights, she also asked each speaker to share how they are moving forward change in their communities to make that future a reality.
The second conversation provided an immersive and cultural experience for a large crowd of predominantly Latinx Angelenos excited to hear from legendary East Los Angeles photographer Estevan Oriol and popular KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez. Estevan and Anthony took the audience through a guided exploration of Los Angeles’ art, music and photography scene. Anthony’s unorthodox interview style sparked a robust conversation that took Estevan through describing for the audience his first time picking up a camera and why. Estevan spoke of his life, culture and art form and how they all collide. He discussed the pieces of his community that move and encourage him to capture their essence, like Latina single mothers and the challenges they face. This was a conversation for the books, and Estevan and Anthony did not disappoint a crowd that showed up with a desire to tap into their Latinx roots through an art-filled experience. The chemistry between Estevan and Anthony was felt throughout the gallery space, and it was evident that all felt Estevan’s mood as he closed the conversation with this simple statement: “This experience was dope.”
In any other venue or environment, these conversations would have been just that – conversations. But in a space that bolstered art, photography and color, people were able to take in the words and their meaning in a deeper way as they looked at the beautiful pieces that spoke of life, love, pain and community.
We would like to thank our speakers who took the stage and brought life into these dynamic discussions: Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Richie Reseda, Maytha Alhassen, Wyatt Closs, Estevan Oriol and Anthony Valdez.