LOS ANGELES – The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California announces its inaugural artist-in-residence program. Los Angeles-based artist and educator Audrey Chan is the first chosen for the position.
Chan’s research-based projects use drawing, painting, video, and public art to center community stories that challenge dominant histories of power, place, and identity. She was chosen for the position in a competitive selection process from a pool of artists in a 2019 open call.
The year-long residency was conceived in partnership with the Los Angeles-based arts consultancy LeBasse Projects in response to the ACLU SoCal’s desire to conceptualize the organization’s work from an empowered position of change through creation. The residency is a unique opportunity for an artist to embed into the ACLU SoCal, working intimately with staff and coalition partners in a year-long collaboration.
“Art has long played a vital role in advocacy for change and justice,” said ACLU SoCal Executive Director Hector Villagra. “We are so excited to have Audrey Chan — whose research-based projects are rooted not only in history but also a deep sense of empathy — as the first artist in this new program.”
Chan, who has already been at work in the new program during this tremendously challenging time, has created powerful portraits of ACLU SoCal clients affected by the pandemic. Her work has honored the difficulties, suffering, and strengths of people in vulnerable communities. She has also contributed artwork to ICE IS NOT WELCOME HERE, a “Know Your Rights” campaign that empowers communities in response to deceptive tactics used by federal immigration authorities.
She is also researching ACLU SoCal’s institutional archives to develop a large-scale project celebrating the affiliate’s upcoming centennial, bringing to life its histories, victories, and strategies.
“The residency has been an empowering opportunity to mobilize visual storytelling to amplify ACLU SoCal’s targeted and urgent work during this time of persistent assaults on civil liberties and basic human rights," Chan said.
Chan received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BA with honors from Swarthmore College. She was commissioned by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to create a large-scale public artwork for the future Little Tokyo/Arts District Metro Station, opening in 2022.