On today's #VCInternFriday spotlight, meet Rebecca Liu, a Los Angeles County Arts Commission (LACAC) Intern! To learn more about Rebecca and her current work, read our interview with her.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Rebecca Liu (she/her/hers) and I’m studying Asian American Studies and Media Studies at Pitzer College! I’m interested in the intersection between arts and activism--still unsure what that’s going to look like career-wise, but my dream job would involve creating API media in some capacity.
What do you do at VC?
I’m the Archives Intern at VC this summer, so that means digitizing the archives and transcribing interviews among other things. I’m also helping our Little Tokyo Service Center Artist-in-Residence, Tina Takemoto, with research for her project, so I’ve been going through Los Angeles (LA) City Directories from the 1940s and trying to find the business listings in the Little Tokyo area from the 1990s.
What is something that you’re working on that is interesting?
Going through the LA City Directories has been really interesting. Recently I’ve been learning about the relationship between race and space, and it got me thinking about the way race is formed in a more nuanced way. Specifically with the LA City Directories, I’ve been able to get a better sense of what the Little Tokyo community has looked like throughout time and how the geography of Little Tokyo plays a part in what’s going on right now. Something that I didn’t know before is the fact that Little Tokyo became Bronzeville in the mid 1940s, as Japanese Americans were illegally removed from their homes and Black folks emigrating from the East were then pushed into these spaces because racist housing policies in the rest of LA prevented them from living anywhere else at the time.
What are your favorite things about VC?
The BOBA FUND! The other interns and I have start collecting spare change (either from coins we’ve found on the street or from generous donations from our VC staff) to buy boba for everyone working at VC. We have $8.53 right now, and our goal is $50! :-)
My second most favorite thing about VC is the community created here. I’ve been transcribing interviews from older organizers in the area and it’s cool to listen to how VC has had a part in documenting the really rad activism that has come forth from the people in Little Tokyo. But more than just documenting, VC does a great job of serving community needs and providing access to really great resources, such as the Armed With a Camera Fellowship and Digital Histories.
If you could steal credit for any great piece of art, song, film, book etc., which one would you claim?
Stealing credit for stuff is so bad. There’s a history of artists not being given credit for things, especially marginalized artists. If I had to steal anything, it would be the money generated from all the stuff people in positions of power have stolen (art-wise or not). Then, I would give back the money to their rightful owners or redistribute it to the people.
My Experience at the LACAC Arts Summit
By Rebecca Liu
The best part of the LACAC Arts Summit was the beginning: free breakfast. When Elizabeth, a fellow LACAC intern, and I arrived in front of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), we were happy to see free bagels and coffee. Our carbohydrates/caffeine bliss was complemented by a taiko performance, performed by LACAC interns and their mentors. However, the moment was cut short when we were shuffled into the Democracy Center to listen to "Welcome" speeches from Kristin Sakoda (the executive director of LACAC), Eric Eisenberg (the president of LACAC), Mark Ridley-Thomas (the LA county supervisor), and Ann Burroughs (the president and CEO of JANM). They talked about how important it is to give students the opportunity to work with arts organizations and actually be paid for their labor, which I appreciated.
Afterwards, we were split into six different groups to attend two workshops. Elizabeth and I decided to attend the Art & Activism Workshop with Ben Caldwell and Travis Davis and the What Happens Next? Getting Your Act Together Workshop with Camille Schenkkan and Elena Muslar. Overall, both workshops were enjoyable, but we wished that the workshops were a little more interactive rather than lecture-based. I particularly liked Ben Caldwell’s segment of the Arts and Activism Workshop, as his work dealt with relevant issues, such as gentrification, through Afro-Futurism. It was refreshing to hear his critique of capitalism and how he uses art/technology to deal with the problems generated through corporations’ pursuits of capital.
Lunch at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) was followed by a speech from Leslie Ito, the CEO and President of the JACCC (and former VC Intern and Executive Director!), and Chris Komai, a member of the Little Tokyo Community Council. Through them, we learned about the history of the space we were in and the history of Japanese American incarceration in the 1940s. A highlight of our time at the JACCC was a song about the meat of my motherland, Spam, by Alison de la Cruz. It was really a song about rejecting bougie white people standards of health, such as shopping at Whole Foods, and, instead, loving your body and eating Spam despite its negative connotations.
For the sake of space and because my little oriental fingers are tired of typing, here’s a tl;dr version of what went down the rest of the day: We visited Hauser & Wirth, and watched plays by the Cornerstone Theatre Company as well as East West Players in Little Tokyo. The day was finished off with cute (and FANCY) mochi treats. Overall, the LACAC Arts Summit was a good experience.