A new method for DCA to promote the arts is through distinguishing regional innovators as Cultural Trailblazers. DCA’s mission is to strengthen the quality of life in the City of Los Angeles by stimulating and supporting arts leaders. These peer-selected artists have been chosen for their contribution to the community and caliber of their work.
2019/2020 recipients include: April Banks, Stacie Rae Chaiken, Neha Choksi, Daniel Corral, Phung Huynh, Louis Jacinto, Charles Jensen, Daeun Jung, Yo Smith Kwon, Patrick Martinez, Michael Massenburg, Seda Aybay Owens, Debra Scacco, Rabbia Sukkarieh and Yozmit
See below for a list of this year’s recipients
April Banks was raised a vegetarian in the woods of Virginia. She graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Hampton University in Virginia in 1996. After migrating west, she obtained a Master of Science in Environmental Design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1999. She lived in Oakland for 13 years, spent a year living abroad in Colombia, before returning to Los Angeles in 2014. Her unconventional career has straddled conceptual art and museum exhibition design.
April is the producer of Tea Afar, a nomadic storytelling experience. For over a decade she made art that raised awareness and pointed to the global disparity in food security, farmer’s rights and fair trade. Tea Afar was conceived as a salve—bringing us together across borders—for all the divisiveness and exploitation that is propagated by a global trade economy.
Stacie Rae Chaiken
Stacie Chaiken’s solo plays include The Dig, death, Genesis + the double helix (2017 Los Angeles Stage Raw Theatre Award), What She Left , and Looking for Louie . Recent work: Saint Vibiana, PRAY4US (2018) and Don’t Flinch (2019) are parts of Porciuncula (Little Portion) , a large-scale, multi-media, site-specific work-in-progress about the history of one square block in Downtown Los Angeles.
Chaiken’s work has received the generous support of the Wallis Annenberg Helix Project, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Durfee Foundation; the Fulbright Foundation; University of Southern California Visions & Voices program; the California Arts Council; the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; the USC Arts Initiative; the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture; the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity; and the Hebrew Union College Artist in Residency program.
Chaiken served as International Creative Director of Kwibuka, the 20th commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda, for which she designed and produced national memorial events in Rwanda, and around the world. Formerly on the performance faculty of the University of Southern California School of Theatre and the School at NYC’s Circle Repertory Company, Stacie runs an LA-based workshop for writers and performers called What’s the Story? and teaches Master Classes on creating powerful stuff based on personal material.
Working in performance, video, installation, sculpture, and other formats, Neha Choksi disrupts logic by setting up poetic and absurd interventions in the lives of everything—from stone to plant, animal to self, friends to institutions. Embracing a confluence of disciplines, in various formats, often collaboratively and in unconventional settings, she allows in strands of her intellectual, cultural and social contexts to revisit the entanglements of time, consciousness, and socialization. Her most recent work-in-progress, Elementary, is a long-term, multi-format project that stems from a lived performance wherein she attends for an entire academic year (2018-2019) a Los Angeles public elementary school as a kindergarten student.
Choksi’s work has been exhibited or performed at 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica (artist lab, 2018); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (biennial, 2018); Dhaka Art Summit (solo, 2018; group 2016); Manchester Art Gallery (solo, 2017); LAMOA at Occidental College, Los Angeles (solo, 2017); 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016); Hayward Gallery Project Space, London (solo, 2015); Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014); Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, California (2013); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, UK (3-person, 2012); Asia Pacific Triennial, QAGOMA, Brisbane (2012); Shanghai Biennale (2012); Wanås Foundation and Kristianstads Konsthall, Sweden (2012); the Venice Architecture Biennale (2006); among others. A new expanded multi-media installation of Faith in friction will be presented at the University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach in 2021.
Recent honors include the 2019 California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists, the designation of Cultural Trailblazer by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs for 2017-2018 and 2019-2020, and the India Today Best New Media Artist of the Year Award for 2017. A monograph on a single artwork, Dismantling, was published in 2018. She serves on the editorial board of the Los Angeles-based arts journal, X-TRA. Choksi received her double BA in Greek and in Art from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MA in classics from Columbia University. She lives and works in Los Angeles and Bombay, India.
Daniel Corral is a composer/performer born and raised in Eagle River, Alaska. Now in Los Angeles, his unique voice finds outlet in accordion orchestras, multimedia microtonal electronics, puppet operas, handmade music boxes, site-specific sound installations, chamber music, and various collaborations.
Corral’s music has been commissioned and presented by venues such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Sundance Film Festival, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Joe’s Pub, REDCAT, Iceland University of the Arts, Mengi, Harpa, MATA, HERE Arts Center, Miami Light Project, Operadagen Rotterdam, Wayward Music, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hammer Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Göteborg Art Sound Festival, USC Thornton School of Music, Center for New Music, CSUN College of Arts, Pianospheres, Automata Los Angeles, Machine Project, SASSAS, the wulf., Pasadena All Saints Choir, Santa Monica GLOW Festival, CalArts, UCSD School of Music, Carlsbad Music Festival, and the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts.
Corral has collaborated with artists such as Anne LeBaron, Vicki Ray, Charles Gaines, Stephen Prina, Wild Up, Isaura String Quartet, Christine Marie, Formalist String Quartet, Opera Povera, Dog Star Orchestra, Yakima Chamber Symphony, Boston Microtonal Society, Slatür, The Industry LA, California EAR Unit, Pasadena All Saints Choir, and Sojourn Theatre. Corral is also the lead composer for Timur and The Dime Museum, who are produced by Beth Morrison Projects.
Corral is on the composition faculty at CalArts. Past residencies include APPEX, Marin Headlands Center for the Arts, I-Park Foundation, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Djerassi. His music has been released by Populist Records, Orenda Records, Innova Recordings, the wulf. records, MicroFest Records, and independently. His MFA is from CalArts, and his teachers include James Tenney and Anne LeBaron.
Phung Huynh is a Los Angeles-based artist and educator whose practice is primarily in drawing and painting. Her most current work probes the questions of cultural perception and authenticity through images of the Asian female body vis-à-vis plastic surgery. Huynh is interested in how contemporary cosmetic surgery has created obscurity in racial identity and amplified the exoticism and Orientalist eroticism of Asian women.
Phung Huynh has had solo exhibitions at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills and the Sweeney Art Gallery at the University of California, Riverside. Her paintings and drawings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in countries such as Germany and Cambodia. She has also completed public art commissions for the Metro Orange Line, Metro Silver Line, and the Los Angeles Zoo. Phung Huynh is Associate Professor of Art at Los Angeles Valley College and Chair of the Community-Based Art/ Prison Arts Collective Advisory Council, which advises a vital program of California State University San Bernardino that provides art courses and workshops to underserved communities and prisons. She completed undergraduate coursework at the University of Southern California, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with distinction from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University.
Louis Jacinto began photographing in 1975 and is noted for his iconic images of the Punk Rock music scene in Los Angeles from the late 1970’s. While several books from that seminal period in American music have since appeared, Jacinto’s images captured highly influential, yet overlooked musicians including Nervous Gender, The Know, The Go-Go’s with original member Margot Olavarria, and The Bags, among others.
Both Jacinto and the East Los Angeles art collective, ASCO crossed artistic paths throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, most notably in Jacinto’s series of photographs documenting an art exhibit and Punk Rock music show, “GRONKPATSSIPARTY”, curated by ASCO artists Patssi Valdez and Gronk on October 31, 1978. Three images from that limited edition series were featured in the ASCO Retrospective which opened in 2011 as part of the regional Pacific Standard Time: Art In Los Angeles 1945 – 1980. In 2015 an exhibition of Jacinto’s Punk Rock photographs included for the first time, images from “GRONK/HERRON: ILLEGAL LANDSCAPES”. These rare photographs from 1980 capture the artwork by ASCO co-founders Gronk and Willie Herron III at the Exploratorium Gallery on the campus of California State University Los Angeles. Of historic note is a performance by Herron’s punk band Los Illegals with the original line-up. In 1981 and 1982 Jacinto was the official photographer for the Sunset Junction Street Fair in Los Angeles. His images captured a neighborhood coming together – gang involved youth and the gay and lesbian community – and working side by side for the betterment of all Los Angeles.
In 1984 Jacinto began a series of photographs of the word “Los Angeles” as it appears in the environment. One image from this series was given an award at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in 1989. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s Jacinto participated in the art collective LA ART.
Since 2006 Jacinto has published several books of his photographs including PUNKROCK LOSANGELES, Edge of the World: Self-Portraits 1976 – 2007, GRONKPATSSIPARTY, The Bags, Hope Fading, The Beatles In Los Angeles, The Umbrellas Project, Patti Smith ‘78 and Angela – a series of photographs taken of Angela Davis in 1978.
Since 1980 Jacinto has exhibited throughout the greater Los Angeles area as well as at the American University Museum, Washington, D.C.; El Museo de las Artes, Guadalajara, Mexico; Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery; Claremont Museum of Art, Claremont, California; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts; Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles, California; University Museum of Contemporary Art, Mexico City.
In 2011 Jacinto launched onodream MAGAZINE. Each issue features one artist speaking in depth about their work. onodream MAGAZINE. One Artist. One Conversation.
Jacinto continues to exhibit both his historic images as well as his current work.
Charles Jensen is the author of the poetry collection Nanopedia and six chapbooks of poems, including the recent Story Problems and Breakup/ Breakdown. His first collection, The First Risk, was a finalist for the 2010 Lambda Literary Award. He is the recipient of the 2018 Zócalo Poetry Prize, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, the 2007 Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award, the Red Mountain Review Chapbook Award, and an Artist’s Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. His poetry has appeared in American Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Field, The Journal, New England Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is the founding editor of the online poetry magazine LOCUSPOINT, which explores creative work on a city-by-city basis. He lives in Los Angeles and directs the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension, the largest continuing education creative writing program in the nation.
DaEun Jung is a dancer-choreographer who envisions her utopian world through her movement practice and crafted systems of dance making. Her works have been presented at Electric Lodge, Highways, The Mortuary, Pieter, and REDCAT (LA) and Movement Research at Judson Church (NYC). She has been awarded artist-in-residencies from Show Box LA at We Live in Space, Dance Resource Center at KYCC Menlo Center, Los Angeles Performance Practice at Automata, Santa Monica Cultural Affairs at Camera Obscura Art Lab, and Los Angeles Dance Project at 2245. She has worked with award-winning choreographers and artistic directors such as Victoria Marks, Milka Djordjevich, Oguri & Roxanne Steinberg, Yuval Sharon, Ros Warby, Wilfried Souly, Jeanine Durning, Shahar Biniamini, and Melinda Ring. Jung’s solo dance in collaboration with experimental theater director Alexander Gedeon and organist Christoph Bull opened the TEDxUCLA 2019 and she performed in John Cage’s Europeras 1 & 2 with LA Phil as a dancer in 2018.
As a master artist of the 2019 Alliance for California Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, Jung redefines the principle, form, structure, and function of Korean classical/folk dance in inter/multi-cultural settings as a continuation of her graduate study at UCLA where she received her MFA in choreography and Westfield Emerging Artist Award. Previously, she performed in Asia, Russia, Europe, and North America as a dancer of Gyeonggi Provincial Dance Company, a dance organization renowned for its traditional and contemporary Korean dance repertoire. She also performed as a main actress in Tokebi Storm, a rhythmic physical theater group, presenting Korean-style drumming and dance in more than 1,000 shows to worldwide audiences. Having six years of specialized training in dance through Gugak (traditional music and dance) National Middle and High School as an awardee of the National Theatre of Korea, Jung obtained a BA in dance and minor in Korean Literature from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. daeunjung.com
Born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley, Patrick Martinez’s L.A. suburban upbringing and his diverse cultural background (Filipino, Mexican and Native American), provided him with a unique lens through which he interprets his surroundings. Influenced by the Hip Hop movement, Martinez cultivated his art practice through graffiti, which later led him to the Art Center College of Design, where he earned a BFA with honors in 2005. Through his facility with a wide variety of media (painting, neon, ceramic and sculpture), Martinez colorfully scrutinizes otherwise everyday realities of suburban and urban life in L.A. with humor, sensitivity and wit.
Artist, curator and creative strategist Debra Scacco studies contemporary and historic structures of permission. Working at the intersection of history, culture and environment, her work connects policy to people by highlighting individual stories impacted by entrenched political structures. Previous exhibitions include Royal Academy of Arts (London), Viper Basel (Switzerland), and the Victoria & Albert Museum (London). In 2012, she was the inaugural Artist-in-Residence at Ellis Island Museum (NYC).
Her public installation Origins is housed at Los Angeles State Historic Park. Collections include Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Hammer Museum, and CAA. In 2019, her installation The Letting Go will be included in Arts Exhibition Programming at LAX Airport, in association with LADCA. Curatorial projects include La Reina de Los Angéles (Descanso Gardens, 2018) and On Going Home (Charlie James Gallery, 2017; part of Pacific Standard Time:LA/LA).
Scacco is the Founding Director of AIR at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator: a residency supporting research-led artists working with climate-related themes.
Sukkarieh was born in Baalbeck, Lebanon, the site of one of the most famous abandoned Roman cities and a touchstone for past cultural achievements as well as for the inevitable changes of history. Sukkarieh earned her bachelor in fine arts from Lebanese University in Beirut, where she found herself in the center of her country’s conflict. The outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in 1975 destroyed any sense of normal life and safety, and Sukkarieh began to create performances to grapple with her deep sense of loss and fear.
In the mid-1980s, Sukkarieh moved to the United States and attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena for a second undergraduate degree and then an MFA. In 1993, she was ultimately given American citizenship and was then able to bring her sons to the U.S. Although the civil war had ended in Sukkarieh’s native country, the constant threat of violence in Lebanon continues to be the most important influence on her paintings, sculptures and drawings.
Sukkarieh has exhibited her artwork across the United States and internationally. Her performances include “99 Drums and Banners,” Federal Building, Westwood, Los Angeles, Calif. (2007); “Us and Them,” Auditorium, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, Calif.(1989); and “Them and Me,” Gallery, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, Calif. (1989), in addition to performances in her native Lebanon.
The self-given name Yozmit means ‘myth about one’s self’ : Through her ritualistic performance art, Yozmit combines theater, dance, pop culture, fashion, gender identity, mythology, and shamanism onto a single canvas. She sees her art as a form of research that helps define the unknown mysteries of her universe. She is currently working on DoYou project – an awareness-based performance art campaign. DoYou means ‘Do’ing ‘You’ – a process of becoming fully self-realized and acting upon by balancing the Sacred Feminine and The Sacred Masculine, using gender and identity as a subject. With this dualistic approach, Yozmit utilizes her art that is presented to a mainstream audience as a medium of healing of the human consciousness.
Yozmit is a international headliner at The Box in New York City and London. She has shown her work at Hollywood Fringe Festival, One City One Pride Arts Festival, Coachella Music Festival, Buring Man, Lucent Dossier, Joyce Soho, Redcat (Roy and Edna Disney/ CalArts Theater), Movement Research at The Judson Church, St. Marks Church, Lincoln Center, Art Basel, ChunCheon International Mime Festival, Life Ball, Doma International Art Festival, Joe’s Pub, Santos Party House, Galapagos Art Space, Dixon Place, Supper Club, Webster Hall, Sleep No More, Hotel Americano, Standard Hotel, Mondrian Hotel and various other venues in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, London, Paris, Ibiza, Berlin, Vienna, Sofia and Seoul. Since 2012, in addition to conventional stage performances, Yozmit has endeavored to bring performance into public spaces such as hotels, clubs, retail stores, and various streets around the world to explore the concept of site-specific performance installations.
Yozmit studied and worked in fashion at the beginning of her professional career but rediscovered herself as a performance artist after training and performing with Rachel Rosenthal, Thomas Leabhart (Etienne Decroux technique), Laurie Cameron, Seo Hoonjung (lineage of Korean intangible cultural asset of Pansori ;Yi Il- joo), Ji Yoonja (Gayageum Buyngchang), Takuya Muramatsu from Dairakudakan. Yozmit is also a scholarship recipient of the American Dance Festival (ADF).
In addition to her work as an artist, Yozmit is an activist for HIV/ AIDS prevention and transgender civil rights.
In 2010, Yozmit performed in Marina Abramović’s “The Artist is Present” at the Museum of Modern Art ( MoMA ), NYC. Yozmit performed at “LifeBall 2013” which is the biggest AIDS fundraising event in Europe held in Vienna, Austria. Yozmit was crowned as “The Queen of LifeBall” by Christian Louboutin and Harpers Bazaar for her performance. In 2017, Yozmit was honored to receive the very first grant given to a transgender artist for the City of West Hollywood’s ”Transgender Initiative” for her award- winning self-produced show “DoYou: Migration of The Monarchs”.