Photo of teens in workshop

Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, by HRDWRKER

LACMA's Art & Tech Teen Internship: Developing Young Artists and Leaders Who Will Shape the Future of Art

September 15, 2023
Maria I. Ramos, Manager, School and Education Community Programs
Nini Sanchez, Education Coordinator, Community Programs

This year, we introduced the Art & Tech Teen Internship, a community-based LACMA internship program that exposed high school students ages 16–18 to work­force train­ing and ini­tia­tives aimed to help them gain employ­ment expe­ri­ence and vital art career con­nec­tions. The program was designed to enhance the academic studies and understanding of students who come from historically marginalized communities and who wish to pursue a career in museum education, community work, or museum studies. During a six-month span, students worked on specialized art projects for the Education Community Programs department and gathered hands-on work experience in museum education involving art and technology practices. Sessions took place on Saturdays at LACMA and the Charles White Elementary School Gallery from January 21–June 10, 2023.

Teen interns working on their zine projects, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, by Nini Sanchez

Studies by the U.S Department of Labor from 2023 indicate that the labor force participation for youth has been trending downward for decades, with youth from low-income communities experiencing even more barriers. In an effort to help close the opportunity gap, the Art & Tech Teen Internship program primed students with tools and knowledge that can be adapted to their career pursuits and everyday art practices. The program also allowed students to build community by providing a safe, intimate space to engage in dialogue and take ownership and responsibility of their own learning. Positive social interactions among the group were cultivated and reinforced through the sharing of ideas and life experiences and project collaborations. 

Bridging Community Through Zines

Zine projects by Iris and Anthony, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, by Nini Sanchez

Throughout the internship, teens simultaneously explored ways they could manipulate images utilizing various creative digital apps such as Procreate, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro and challenged themselves to restructure their art in more immersive and collaborative ways. With the guidance of the Education Community Coordinator Nini Sanchez and LACMA Teaching Artist Katy Unger, teens documented their life and perspectives about art through a variety of media in their Perzine, or personal zine. 

Edvin and Seongmin (Martin) experiment with photo techniques in a workshop led by Ayda Gragossian, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, by Nini Sanchez

In a photography session led by LACMA Teaching Artist Ayda Gragossian, students learned how to capture art through the lens of a camera and convert their zines into photographic arrangements using light, texture, space, and color. They took photographs from different angles, manipulated transparencies, and experimented with depth, shadow, time, and space. In another session, LACMA Teaching Artist Jenny Ziomek taught interns how to create digital illustrations using the Procreate program. They learned to incorporate movement onto still photography using layer techniques and a variety of digital tools and transformed drawn elements from their zines into short animations.

Students create digital animations in a workshop led by Jenny Ziomek, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, by Nini Sanchez

Solo Tech Projects

As interns continued to experiment with digital media, they took on the challenge of creating a solo project focusing on the theme “Connecting L.A. Communities.” Using works exhibited at LACMA by artists such as Cauleen Smith and Asha Grant for inspiration, interns were asked to digitally portray themselves and use available art materials to tell their story. For some, it was the first time trying a new skill on an unfamiliar program and for others, it was an exciting way to explore digital processes they were familiar with such as music, animation, graphic design, or video.

“I've always wanted to try Procreate but didn't know where to start. Now that I am familiar with this app, I feel so inspired to make more digital art and animation,” said intern Maya Prieto.

For the final project, teens worked together to form a digital community zine, which highlighted the group’s collective voice and reflected their understanding of the connection between art and technology. Thanks to the fantastic work of digital-media and LACMA Teaching Artist Danny Gonzalez, the teens’ final projects came to life in the most organic, beautiful way. 

Andy Ramirez-Dionisio and Edvin Canales present their final projects, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA, by Maria Ramos

Our goals to support under-represented youth of color were realized through intentional, pro-social approaches that allowed students to engage in art-making and collaboration with their peers and communities in a manner that was productive and constructive. In the end, teen interns gained more than museum work experience in the visual arts field. They also built a solid foundation of personal growth and confidence needed to succeed in all aspects of life. 

This year’s Teen Internship will start in the fall and will be held at AC Bilbrew Library and LACMA thanks to the generous support of Kim and Keith Allen-Niesen. Know any creative teens who love art and tech? Encourage them to apply for the 2023-24 program! The deadline to apply is September 18, 2023.

Photos courtesy the interns, image © Museum Associates/LACMA

We would like to thank the first cohort of teen interns: Andy Ramirez-Dioniso, Iris Jun, Alexa Juarez-Gonzalez, Anthony Magallanes, Seongmin Yoo (Martin), Maya Prieto, Edvin Canales, and Destiny Gutierrez.