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Resisting Now: Art and Policy Talk

Friday, September 25, 2020 at 11 AM

The Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, signaled a defining moment in US history. How have other such moments been previously documented and archived? In what way can artists and civic institutions serve as stewards of these stories?


In this conversation, exhibition artists Johanna Breiding and Amir Saadiq with City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Public Art Division Director Felicia Filer and City of Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell discussed how art and public policy are employed as catalysts for change. Moderated by Sarah Conley Odenkirk.


This program was organized by Jamie Costa.

About Johanna Breiding

Johanna Breiding is an interdisciplinary artist that employs analog and digital technologies to archive queer narratives and underrepresented voices.Through varying forms of collaboration, Johanna Breiding depicts the importance of kinship and intergenerational exchange via autobiography, historical events, and the landscape as witness. They have exhibited widely throughout the US and Europe and have received numerous awards from DAAD, Rema Hort Mann and the Swiss International Film Festival. Their work has been written about in Artforum, Art in America and Hyperallergic to name a few.


About Mitch O’Farrell

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell represents the 13th District on the Los Angeles City Council. Mitch is passionate about safe neighborhoods and improving the quality of life in Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Historic Filipinotown, Hollywood, Little Armenia, Mid-Wilshire/Koreatown, Thai Town and Silver Lake.


Years of public service precede Mitch being elected to the Los Angeles City Council. He brought with him a strong background of working with government at every level.  Since being sworn into office in 2013,  Mitch has made a strong impact on children and family safety in our neighborhoods;  improved commercial corridors while enhancing the pedestrian and bicycle experience; and has set the Los Angeles River on a path to environmental restoration and accessibility by championing five bridge projects to better connect the neighborhoods that embrace the waterway.


Mitch lives with his partner in Glassell Park, and is the first openly gay person to be elected to the 13th Council District seat.


About Felicia Filer

Felicia Filer is the public art director for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. She directs the commission and fulfillment of over 250 permanent municipal public art projects throughout the city. Additionally she directs the administration and management of the city’s private one percent for art program, the city art collection, murals program and in partnership with Los Angeles World Airports helps to design, develop and implement the art exhibition programs and public artworks at LAX airport. In Summer 2016 Filer co-produced the city’s inaugural Public Art Triennial, CURRENT: LA Water, and in Fall 2019 the second edition CURRENT: LA Food, each one commissioning 15 original, temporary public art installations and over 150 public programs and events at 15 locations. Previously Filer worked as a senior management consultant and loan fund manager for ARTS, Inc., a former Los Angeles nonprofit arts management consulting organization. A native of Los Angeles, she earned a BS in economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MBA in finance and marketing from the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, Claremont Graduate University. Filer’s professional interests include designing systems to facilitate governmental support of innovative models of public art.


About Sarah Conley Odenkirk

Sarah Conley Odenkirk has practiced law in the area of fine art for more than 20 years and is licensed in five states*.  She advises clients in transactional matters related to the arts in the private and public realms.  Through her years of practice, Sarah has developed a deep understanding of the commercial art world, public art and cultural policy.  She uses this experience to provide legal services and strategic planning guidance through a legal lens.  Her practice supports innovative programs and the evolution of balanced and sustainable cultural ecosystems. She is an author, and a frequent speaker at professional conferences in both the legal and art fields.  At the same time that she maintained her legal practice, from 2013-2017 Sarah was the Associate Director of the Sotheby’s Institute of Art’s Art Business and Arts Management masters degree programs at Claremont Graduate University, where she was instrumental in developing the curriculum, ran several conferences on art law and community engagement topics, and was the Professor for Legal Foundations; Public Art; International Transactions; and Cultural Property and Restitution. Sarah is very involved with the art community and has maintained memberships on a number of committees and boards throughout her career.


About Amir Saadiq

Amir Saadiq’s practice focuses on challenging social norms and representation while exploring the intersectionality of economics, politics, activism and Blackness. As a Black man, he has seen the generational effects of systematic oppression. His work aims to diversify the traditional canon of photography by using images to spark culturally relevant conversations.

Tile and banner image: Amir Saadiq, Brother Aziz, Oakland, CA from the series It Takes A Nation 2020. courtesy of the artist.