English Class Project

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 Dec. 14, 2006

Sean Kearns
Media Relations Director
(323) 343-3050
Margie Yu
Public Affairs Specialist
(323) 343-3047



Cal State L.A. 
Office of Public Affairs 
(323) 343-3050 
Fax: (323) 343-6405


‘Exodus’ to feature
African American poetic traditions

Cal State L.A.’s student project opens at the Natural History Museum

Los Angeles, CA-- From slave songs to poetry slams, the expressions of African American poetry will be presented in a multimedia exhibit at the In/ter/act Gallery of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County from Friday, Dec. 15, to Friday, Jan. 5.

Titled “Exodus: African American Poetry Through Time,” the exhibit—developed and installed by a group of Cal State L.A. graduate students—documents African American poetry from its roots to the present. It also represents the students’ final project for English 541, “The African American Poetic Tradition,” taught by Cal State L.A. Professor Lauri Ramey.

For ten weeks this fall, the 15 English majors—from the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley area—explored the literary realm and worked together to create the exhibit. The Natural History Museum’s Emiko Ono guided on how to create an exhibit that most effectively uses museum space.

The students included Erik Balthazar, Iona Cano, Jazmin Chavez, Jasmine Colbert, Natalie Djabourian, Don Durkee, Monica Gomez, Regina Jeffers, Shellie Kundinger, Margaret Lopez, Norm Lopez, Renee Smith, Reena Trivedi, Jarrett Young and Armen Zarian.

Two of the students—Trivedi and Balthazar—are themselves schoolteachers who have developed lessons for their classes based on the exhibit.

Said Ramey, “I am truly stunned by the quality of the exhibition that they have created, and cannot stress fully enough how self-directed this undertaking has been.

“They have organized themselves structurally and administratively, including appointing a copyrights/permissions manager and project manager amongst themselves,” she said. “They set up their own online dialogue forum to post photos of their exhibitions in progress, edited one another's exhibition texts with virtually professional quality, and have operated as a scholarly and creative community such that I have not experienced except in my dreams as a professor.”

Many of the students, she said, are now considering further work in public arts and culture.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is at 900 Exposition Blvd., between Vermont and Figueroa. The museum hours are Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For admission information, visit http://www.nhm.org/information/admission.htm.

The exhibit is cosponsored by Cal State L.A.’s newly established Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics and the Julian C. Dixon Institute for Cultural Studies of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. It also received support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. For details about the gallery exhibit, contact Ono at (213) 763-3531 or Ramey at (323) 343-4165.

Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 190,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, to be housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center now under construction. www.calstatela.edu


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