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Artists at Work: Maru Garcia and Marcus Kuiland-Nazario

Artists at Work brings togethers artists with cultural and community-based organizations to address deeply rooted economic and social issues laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Culture Hub, 18th Street Arts Center will collaborate with artists Maru Garcia and Marcus Kuiland-Nazario and their respective partnerships. As the artists’ projects come to fruition throughout the year, we will update you on their research, artistic process, and any other related engagements here once a month. 


Maru García is a Mexican transdisciplinary artist, curator, and researcher based in Los Angeles. Her use of media includes research, installations, performance, sculpture, and video, often relying on the presence of organic matter to help viewers understand the biological processes occurring in complex systems. Her areas of interest are explorations on biosystems, interspecies relationships, and the capacity of living organisms (including humans) to act as remediators in contaminated sites. Her work highlights the importance of eco-aesthetics, where relationships and community are proposed as a way of building cultures of regeneration.
Los Angeles native Marcus Kuiland-Nazario is an interdisciplinary artist, performance curator and producer. He is a founding artist of 18th Street Arts Center and Highways Performance Space as well as co-founder of Oficina de Proyectos Culturales, a contemporary art center in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and LA Community Health Project, a harm reduction street based needle exchange program. Kuiland-Nazario’s works are long-term research based cross-genre projects exploring extreme states of emotion such as grief, anger and loss influenced by the cultural and spiritual traditions of the African Diaspora.


THE OFFICE performing arts + film has partnered with  the LA County Department of Arts and Culture to implement THE OFFICE’s national initiative Artists At Work (AAW) in Los Angeles. Inspired by FDR’s Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) and its Federal Project Number One, THE OFFICE, in collaboration with the FreshGrass Foundation, conceived AAW early in the COVID-19 pandemic, as artistic communities were ravaged, careers were halted, and dire financial struggles ensued. AAW addresses an urgent need to reimagine the culture sector and how we value artists’ role in society—a need that the pandemic has starkly revealed, and that will continue after the public health crisis abates. The LA edition marks the beginning of a national expansion of AAW made possible by $3 million in funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, following a highly successful pilot in Western Massachusetts.

Artists At Work is a workforce resilience program designed to support the rebuilding of healthy communities through artistic civic engagement. The program pays artists to keep making art; gives support to cultural organizations (called Culture Hubs) and arts workers in that community to host and work with those artists; and connects both artists and cultural organizations to local social impact initiatives in areas such as youth mental health, suicide prevention, food justice, prison reform, at-risk youth, sustainability, and environmental justice. 

Participating artists receive a salary, calculated using the MIT Living Wage Calculator for their respective region, for a period of one year, as well as full healthcare benefits. Following their participation in the program, they are eligible for unemployment benefits, and may continue healthcare coverage under COBRA if they choose. Artists working in any artistic discipline qualify for the program; they must be local to the region, and actively interested in a social practice. 

In Los Angeles, AAW spans the geography of the county, with Culture Hubs that are deeply rooted in their respective communities and predominantly are led by or serve Black, Latinx, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities: 18th Street Arts Center, Angels Gate Cultural Center, Armory Center for the Arts, Chicxs Rockerxs South East Los Angeles (CRSELA), the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy at the Japanese American National Museum (NCPD@JANM), LA Commons, the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, and Tia Chucha’s Cultural Center & Bookstore. These organizations, located across the county’s five Supervisorial Districts, span a broad range of artistic disciplines and reflect the region’s vast cultural diversity. 

The Culture Hubs will select the artists and social impact initiatives with which they will soon work. The collaborations will focus on key cross-sector policy areas identified in the County Board of Supervisors’ adopted priorities and the Countywide Cultural Policy, a first-of-its kind policy developed by the LA County Department of Arts and Culture with input from hundreds of community members and stakeholders and adopted by the Board in 2020 to strengthen cultural equity, invest in access to arts, and promote the role of the arts in advancing equity across civic sectors of our lives.

National partners for AAW include the International Storytelling Center and Theater of War Productions

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