Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

$210,000 Awarded to Responsive Public Humanities Projects throughout the State

Ruth Orta (Ohlone, Bay Miwok, Plains Miwok). Courtesy of Kirti Bassendine.

 Projects Supported by the Humanities for All Project Grant

January 5, 2022
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Cherie Hill, Communications Manager, 
Image / Ruth Orta (Ohlone, Bay Miwok, Plains Miwok) shares stories of her family history and gives instructions on the traditional methods of acorn processing. Courtesy of Kirti Bassendine.

(Oakland, CA) —California Humanities is proud to announce 11 new Humanities for All Project Grant awards totaling $210,000 to support public humanities programs across the state over the next two years. The new grantees represent a range of nonprofit organizations and public agencies that make up the public humanities’ “ecosystem,” including museums, educational institutions, libraries, historical societies, and arts and culture providers from Northern, Central, and Southern California.

The awarded projects utilize the humanities to illuminate topics of current importance to Californians, including indigenous cultural preservation, the inclusion of underrepresented groups such as LGBTQ artists, and the impact of local and international history on our communities. In addition, each project aims to promote intercultural and intergenerational understanding and reach new, underserved, and established audiences through engaging and accessible activities.

“We are excited to award projects that focus on youth involvement in the humanities and that strive to reach audiences through various public outlets,” states President and CEO, Julie Fry. “Our strategic focus is on education, public engagement, and field-building, and these projects support making the humanities more valued, visible, and embedded in the lives of individuals and our communities throughout the state.”

The Humanities for All Project Grant, a part of our Humanities for All competitive grant program, offers funding twice a year for public humanities projects of up to two years. Launched in 2017, the program has made 117 awards, totaling just under $2 million.

Projects Awarded December 2021
Note: In this round of Humanities for All Project Grant awards, California Humanities designated specific funding for the area of Youth Voices. These projects involve teens as primary program participants or audiences and address topics or subjects of interest to them (denoted by “*”). 

Oakland Belonging: A Youth-Led History of Swan’s Market*
Chapter 510 Ink, Oakland
Project Director: Jahan Khalighi

This two-year oral history project will engage a group of Queer and BIPOC Oakland high school students in exploring the historic Swan’s Market, located at the intersection of four diverse Oakland neighborhoods. After intensive research and writing, the young people will share their discoveries with the public through various multimedia performance formats (exhibits, walking and audio tours, podcasts, and presentations). As Oakland rapidly gentrifies, this project aims to: 1) engage youth from underserved neighborhoods surrounding Swan’s Market to explore and document the rich history of their changing city; 2) engage the public in dialogue with youth about themes such as individual and community identity, cultural exclusion and acceptance, and community stability and instability in the built environment; and 3) encourage those who design and create public spaces to consider youth in these processes.

Shelter and Place *
Merced County Office of Education, Merced
Project Director: Noelle Chandler

This oral history project will empower local high school students to conduct interviews with community members about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on this rural Central Valley region. Workshops provided by the University of California, Merced humanities students and faculty will develop students’ skills and confidence in public history methods. The oral histories will be developed into dramatic monologues, to be performed through a live, multilingual production at a local theater, followed by a community dialogue exploring the effects of the pandemic on individual and community mental health and related issues. Transcripts and recordings of the interviews and performances will be archived and shared widely to increase the impact and reach of the project, which also aims to strengthen campus-community connections and encourage high school students to pursue higher educational opportunities.

Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay
American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona
Project Director: Beth Ann Gerstein

This new exhibition will be the first to chronologize the American Studio Ceramics movement of ceramic art in California focused solely on the work of women artists (previous histories have focused on prominent male artists). The exhibition will include more than 80 works from 40 artists, track significant shifts over three generations, beginning in the 1890s, and provide a compelling history of women’s profound and singular contributions to the American Studio Ceramics movement. In conjunction with the exhibition, AMOCA will offer public programs designed to provide enriching opportunities for a broad range of visitors, including lectures, panel discussions, exhibition tours, and related hands-on programs in AMOCA’s Ceramics Studio. Special educational experiences for local students in grades K-12 and college undergraduate programs will also be offered.

Contemporary Indigenous Voices of California’s South Coast Range: Enduring Relationships with the Land BenitoLink, Hollister
Project Director: Kirti Bassendine

Weaving together still photography, storyboards, and video interviews with in-person presentations, demonstrations, and discussions, this multifaceted project will highlight the voices of the contemporary native people of the South Coast Ranges of California. Through a series of programs in various locations throughout the region to engage Native and non-Native audiences, community members will explore the importance of intergenerational relationships and their role in cultural revitalization as elders pass on their knowledge and wisdom to the next generation. Culture bearers will also share their connection to land and ecology and reflect on their experiences, expressing, relearning, and restoring their culture within a modern world that often denies their existence and heavily restricts their access to land.

Futurisms of Space Travel
ArtLab21 Foundation, El Segundo
Project Director: Rodrigo Ribera D’ebre

The El Segundo Museum of Art will produce a series of in-person and/or virtual events in summer 2022 to explore how the American Frontier mythology has shaped the trajectory of space travel and exploration over the last century. Participants will include Engineers and scientists from LA’s South Bay region, which includes over 30 aerospace companies, along with artists, filmmakers, writers, scholars, students, and the general public. Ideas excavated in the discussions will become starting points for other art, maker, and literary workshops and experiences that will invite the public to imagine (and create) alternative concepts, values, and visions that might guide space travel/exploration in the future. Community partners include Starburst Aerospace, the City of El Segundo, the El Segundo Public Library, and local high schools.

Native Voices
Mineral King Preservation Society, Three Rivers
Project Director: Lisa Monteiro

A collaboration with members of the local Yokuts community, the Three Rivers Historical Museum, and the Mineral King Preservation Society, this project will develop a new interpretive exhibit about local Native history. Using objects in the museum’s collection and informed by the knowledge of the last fluent speaker of Wukchumi of the Tule-Kaweah Yokuts, the exhibit will show how Native peoples traditionally lived and worked the land how European settlement impacted them, and how they live today. The exhibition will launch with “Native Voices Day,” featuring culture bearers from local tribes, who will share traditional cultural knowledge, demonstrate basketry and games, and provide beginning lessons in the Wukchumi language. Located on the main highway to Sequoia National Park, the exhibit will be accessible to thousands of visitors and locals on an ongoing basis. S special activities will also be provided for school-age children, including an annual tour for Native students who attend the Owens Valley School.

Never Forget: Filipinx Americans and the Philippines Anti-Martial Law Movement
Regents of the University of California at Los Angeles
Project Directors: Karen Umemoto & Lucy M. Burns

A curated digital exhibition featuring 25-30 archival political posters produced by the Philippines Anti-Martial Law Movement (AMLM) and a series of events will provide a platform for public dialogue and learning about an important but little-known chapter of California history. This project explores the transnational struggle for human rights and democracy and its impacts on the Filipinx American community, which participated in and grew in response to Marcos’ regime (1966 to 1986). In addition, this project foregrounds the understudied history of the largest Asian American ethnic group in California, aiming to strengthen intergenerational connections within the community and build broader understandings of shared experiences and solidarities among Californians whose common histories include struggles for democracy and human rights.

OC Stories: Orange County’s Vietnamese American Community
Orange County Public Libraries, Santa Ana
Project Director: Danilo Serranilla

This digital oral history project will gather stories from members of Orange County’s Vietnamese American immigrant community, the nation’s largest, highlighting the diverse range of experiences, opinions, beliefs and values held by community members. The recordings will become part of the library’s extensive online local history archive, accessibly locally as well as globally. Related public programs, including lectures, performances, book discussions, and a film series, will follow the website’s launch. The library aims to provide a platform for Orange County’s Vietnamese American community to share their personal stories and raise greater awareness of its importance within this county of over 1.5 million people and the state and the nation.

The People’s Archive: Los Angeles River narratives, counternarratives, and conversations
Pomona College, Claremont
Project Director: Char Miller

Through community-based programming, curation, and archive-building, the project weaves together narratives, counternarratives, and conversations to explore the world’s longest channelized waterway, the iconic Los Angeles River. This project will galvanize community storytelling and a partnership between Pomona College, the Claremont Colleges Library, and two existing community archives (LA River X/El Río de Los Angeles X and the Western Water Archives) gather people together to explore one of California’s most critical socio-cultural landscapes. In addition, the team is excited to partner with the City of Los Angeles, Elysian Valley Arts Collective, LA as Subject, LA River Kayak Safari, Los Angeles Waterkeeper, Las Fotos Project, Photo Friends of the LA Public Library, River Ridge Club, and Stables, Riverpark Coalition, and the Society of California Archivists to bring bilingual English/Spanish public humanities programming along the fifty-one miles of the Los Angeles River.

Queer Mvmnt Fest
Disco Riot, San Diego
Project Director: Zaquia Mahler Salinas

San Diego’s first queer-focused movement-arts festival, Queer Mvmnt Fest, will highlight the work of queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming BIPOC dance artists, examining and centering the need for addressing inequity through an intersectional lens. In June 2022, the festival will empower and showcase LGBTQ+ artists from diverse backgrounds through panel discussions, performances, workshops, and classes geared for affinity groups and open to the general public. The festival seeks to break down the barriers between “passive audience” and “active artist” by inviting a more fluid, experiential engagement with movement arts and queer theory and culture. Intended to engage participants and audiences to understand that the two groups are not mutually exclusive, the artists participating in the festival will be an integral part of the audience and community support. Likewise, the audience for the events is an active participant in programming.

Queer Threads Exhibition and Humanities Programming
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, San Jose
Project Director: Amy DiPlacido

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles will present the West Coast premiere of the Queer Threads exhibition with a series of public programs from April 13 to July 3, 2022. The exhibition, curated by fiber arts scholar John Chaich, features nearly three dozen LGBTQ+ artists connected to the West Coast. They are remixing fiber and textile traditions as they explore contemporary identity issues. Informed by the diversity of ways contemporary LGBTQ+ artists approach fiber art today, the works in this exhibition interpret and present queer content through processes such as crochet, embroidery, weaving, painting, photography, printmaking, and video. Programs will include a live panel discussion recorded and translated into Spanish; hands-on workshops led by exhibiting artists and others focused on expressions of identity and social justice; a lecture about LGBTQ+ fiber artists and their working processes; and an Artist in Residency program.

Learn more about the Humanities for All Grant Program here.

About California Humanities:
California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, promotes the humanities—focused on ideas, conversation and learning—as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect people to each other in order to help strengthen California. California Humanities has provided grants and programs across the state since 1975. To learn more, visit, or like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



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