Summertime is usually an exciting time for Visual Communications (VC), as we bring aboard students from different schools to be part of the VC Family. Learn more about our VC Social Media and Marketing Intern Melody Chen, who came to us through the LA County Arts Commission Arts Internship Program.
Tell us about yourself.
MELODY: My name is Melody Chen, I’m the Social Media and Marketing Intern here at VC. I’m majoring in Asian American Studies at UCLA.
What do you do at VC?
I help the Communications team promote content and manage both the Visual Communications and LAAPFF social media platforms. In addition, I also help write blog posts on the various programs that VC hosts or is affiliated with.
What is something that you’re working on that stands out to you?
A long term project that I’ve really enjoyed has been interviewing fellows of the Digital Histories program. Many of them have had no prior experience with filmmaking but have a passion and respect for the narratives of an older generation that are quite often silenced and overlooked. It has been really cool listening to their experiences about learning new skills, going out of their comfort zone, and meeting new people. To see their empowerment has been really inspiring; it has shown me that there’s never a limit to one’s knowledge.
What would you like to do in the future?
I definitely would like to be involved with the arts. But regardless of what I do, I would still like to have the curiosity to explore at whatever age I’m at.
What is your favorite memory at VC?
I’ve really enjoyed meeting and getting to know the people that make Visual Communications run. From the staff, to the Little Tokyo community, to the API filmmaking network, it’s been incredible to see the people and passion behind such a historic organization.
My Experience as an LACAC Intern
by Melody Chen
I entered the Broad Stage, a theatre at Santa Monica College, on an early Wednesday morning – slightly drowsy, a little overwhelmed by the introduction of 130+ new faces congregated in one area, but mostly just intrigued by what would come of the mandatory Arts Summit organized by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission (LACAC). Every year, LACAC provides paid summer internship opportunities in arts organizations to undergraduates with the hopes of assisting arts nonprofits and developing future arts leaders. And every year, the Arts Summit is the one time where all 130 + interns, located all around LA County, are able to come together to learn about working in the arts, arts activism and organizing. Filing our way into the theatre seats, I was met with a wide array of individuals that spanned location, job descriptions, areas of study, even age. And as the Art Summit commenced, I was starting to realize the influential role that the arts played in LA.
Throughout the morning, we attended various workshops led by past LACAC interns who had established a career in the arts. The first of two that I attended, “Where Do We Go From Here?” was a panel on how to pursue a career in the arts after graduation. Listening to three former interns discuss their journeys, all starting out in the same program but ultimately leading widely different and successful careers, was incredibly informative and encouraging. Many of the speakers took a “nontraditional” route to get to where they were such as taking odd jobs to gain experience, references, and to expand their network. Others had already developed a career but were still completing their degree. As such, their diverse experiences were empowering in that there was no one “right” way to go about building one’s career.
The second workshop, “City As Venue,” focused on artists and arts organization’s efforts to transform the streets, parks, and nontraditional spaces as places for art. The two organizations, Clockshop and Community Arts Resources (CARS), presented on amazing transformations of public space and how art can be used functionally to alter the ecosystems that they inhabit.
After the workshops, we relocated to Tongva Park in Santa Monica to have lunch, meet our peer groups and learn a dance routine by one of the intern organizations, Contra Tiempo, an urban Latin dance theatre company. We finished out the day with our peer groups, touring various arts venues in the area including Bergamot Station, City Garage Theatre, and Highways. Overall, the Art Summit was an incredible learning experience. I was blown away by how much of the arts was embedded in almost every nook and cranny of LA. In just one day, I was exposed to so many new arts organizations, opportunities, and a newfound knowledge and empowerment to pursue a career in the arts.
While the Art Summit was the only time we were together with all the LACAC interns, we were able to become more acquainted with our smaller peer groups, organized based on the location of our internship. Since Visual Communications is located in Little Tokyo, my peer group consisted of various arts organizations within Downtown LA. The intent of these groups are to allow interns to meet and connect with one another, network with arts professionals, and learn about arts organization. Our first outing started out with a tour around Olvera Street and ended at LA Plaza de la Cultura y Arte. The day centered around the the history of Los Angeles starting with its origins from the indigenous communities of the Gabrielino-Tongva Native Americans who were displaced by Spanish colonizers, to the Chicano movement, to the present. Through the tour around Olvera Street and the exhibits from LA Plaza, we were encouraged to think critically about the formations of culture, identity, and what it means to live in Los Angeles in the present day.
Our second group outing started out at the Grand Central Market. There we grabbed lunch before heading to The Main Museum to speak with the program director about their upcoming plans to expand their space in DTLA and their mission to support LA-based artists through artist residencies. We were able to speak with Star Montana, an artist-in-residence, about her photo series taken in Boyle Heights. Afterwards, we visited the Los Angeles Theatre Center, where our peer leader works. We were able to tour the complex labyrinth that was the renovated bank turned theatre, and learn about the different programs that use the space throughout the year.
We concluded the day with boba and as we conversed about our respective internships, it was clear that we would always be connected through our shared experiences and love for the arts. And as these 10 weeks come to a close, the invaluable lessons and memories would remain well past this summer.