Woodrow Wilson Classical High School students are exhibiting their final projects from an Architecture class for all of Long Beach to view at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA). Challenged to apply green design, the “Regeneration” exhibit focuses on handcrafted, upcycled furniture constructed by the students using old pallets.
The exhibit sheds light on a different way to “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” as the students’ pieces prove artists can be creative while being environmentally conscious as well.
Before I stepped inside the gallery, I had no real expectations about the exhibit. After all, I thought to myself, these are high school students we’re talking about.
Once in, I was amazed and my heart oozed with pride. I was left in awe realizing teens my age are capable of such mastery.
Displayed in the Port of Learning Gallery, which gives emerging artists and students alike a space to have their art seen, the students’ furniture filled the room with personality. Ranging from lounging chairs to dining tables, most of them painted in solid white, every piece was different from the next.
Some were elegantly simple, such as Anthony Gomez’s angled chair, while others were intricately detailed, like Guillermo Leon’s double-tiered table. Despite their differences, each work of art doubles as perfectly functional furniture.
“I had no idea what to expect,” Gabriela Martinez, MOLAA Curator of Education, said, “so I was really pleasantly surprised when I saw the final pieces.”
I overheard others comment, “Wow, high school students did this?” as well as parents explaining to their children what upcycling means and how it “limits the use and waste of materials to help repair the earth.”
Among the 21 unique works of art scattered across the room, three notably stood out.
Appearing to be the only female artist, Jessica Roberts’ table and stool set was purposefully and perfectly messy, in a sweet, elegant way. What really caught my eye was the unpainted, natural wood and her patchwork detailing on the table, which added a cool, urban feel to her art.
I also noticed Jesus Torres’ angled-chair painted in white. The design would not leave my conscious alone! Something about the slanted, boxy shape and geometric patterns made the piece so memorable and brilliant. The structure of the furniture appeared simple, but demonstrated complexity in the detailing. Bravo!
David Rosendo’s table “Influenced by Literature” absolutely stole the show. Designed to “encourage communication” and “offer stability for those who use it,” I couldn’t help but to think this is only the beginning for Rosendo both architecturally and creatively. The table has creative ridges on its edge that form interesting patterns of triangles. It also comes across as bold and sturdy.
The exhibit overall is captivating as each piece demonstrates beauty in its ruggedness. The “Regeneration” exhibit proves young people of this generation do have the skills and capability to create and produce through thoughtful, eco-friendly means, an underrated practice among artists.
Breaking boundaries while caring for our planet, these students are taking a huge step in the right direction.
It’s not every day that high school students have their art displayed in a major museum, so see the exhibit before it ends Sunday.
Museum of Latin American Art:
628 Alamitos Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
Friday hours: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday hours: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.