Arts Department Grows Innovative Program, Embedding Artists in Los Angeles County Departments

Creative Strategists and County Staff Bring New Thinking to Projects that Improve Services and Quality of Life

The LA County Department of Arts and Culture (Arts and Culture) announces the second cycle of its Creative Strategist Artist-in-Residence (CS-AIR) Initiative, embedding four artists in County departments. Collaborating with staff, project partners, and community stakeholders, the artists address civic issues such as voter participation and traffic fatalities. What began as a countywide call for project proposals in 2017 has now culminated in seven artist residencies.

Artists have the extraordinary power to harness real life situations and convey important messages to communities in thoughtful and nuanced ways, said Arts and Culture Executive Director Kristin Sakoda. We are excited to expand the Creative Strategist program this year, and look forward to seeing the impact of pairing these talented artists in residence with government colleagues to creatively address civic challenges across the County.

Newly-embedded artists are Deborah Aschheim at Registrar Recorder; Olga Koumoundouros at the Department of Public Health/Office of Violence Prevention; Anu Yadav at the LA County Department of Mental Health; and Sandra de la Loza at the Department of Parks and Recreation. Two artists, Clement Hanami and Alan Nakagawa, began piloted residencies at LA County Library and Department of Public Health/Vision Zero/PLACE Program, respectively, in Fiscal Year 2018/2019. Artist María del Carmen Lamadrid started a residency with the Registrar Recorder and now works at large with Arts and Culture.

The Creative Strategist program is one of the County’s latest initiatives from the 2017 Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative (CEII). The Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative aims to ensure that everyone in LA County has equitable access to arts and culture. The Department of Arts and Culture will help us implement it, in this case by managing creative cross-sector work within the County, said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

CEII began in 2015 when Supervisor Hilda L. Solis authored a motion, co-authored by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, to conduct a constructive County-wide conversation about ways to improve diversity in cultural organizations. Over the course of 18 months Arts and Culture, working with Commissioners and community members, engaged in various town hall meetings with hundreds of constituents who shared their experiences and suggestions.

In the spring of 2017, Arts and Culture released the Cultural Equity & Inclusion Initiative, which included 13 recommendations to the LA County Board of Supervisors to ensure that everyone in LA County has equitable access to arts and culture. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, with Supervisor Solis, introduced the motion that directed the Chief Executive Officer to fund the Creative Strategist Program in June 2017.

Through CEII, we are bringing the arts to every segment of the population and all areas of Los Angeles County, said Los Angeles County Arts Commission President Helen Hernandez. We are proud that this recommendation has become a reality, and we look forward to this program becoming an integral part of all Los Angeles County departments.

The Creative Strategists and projects are:

Deborah Aschheim

Deborah AschheimDepartment: Registrar-Recorder's Office (19-20)
Bio: Deborah Aschheim makes installations, sculptures, and drawings about memory and place. Her work exploring collective memory and place-based narratives combines studio production with oral history and community engagement. Aschheim’s solo exhibitions include the Barrick Museum at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; the Richard Nixon Presidential Library; Suyama Space in Seattle, San Diego State University; the Mattress Factory Museum in Pittsburgh; Otis College and Laguna Art Museum. She has created public artworks for Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey; for the Sandler Neurosciences Center at UCSF; for Amazon.com in Seattle; for the City of Sacramento and the Los Angeles Police Department. Aschheim has been artist-in-residence at The MacDowell Colony; Headlands; McColl Center, Bemis and Roswell Artist-in-Residence programs, and was the inaugural Hellman Visiting Artist at the Memory and Aging Center in the Neurology Department at UCSF. She has received grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, the California Community Foundation and the City of Los Angeles. She lives in Pasadena.


Sandra de la Loza

Sandra de la LozaDepartment: Department of Parks and Recreation
Bio: Sandra de la Loza is a Los Angeles based artist who creates open-ended, research-based frameworks that guide inquiries that include visual, experimental, and social components. Through collaborations with specific communities she finds strategies of making invisible histories visible through projects that result in multi-media installations, video, photographic work, publications, and public interventions. Recent exhibits include A Grammar Made of Rocks at Human Resources and a recent collaboration with Argentinian artist Eduardo Molinari, traveling with Talking to Action: Art, Activism, Pedagogy of the Americas. Her work has been exhibited in major museums, alternative art spaces and community centers within the United States, Latin America, and Europe. She has received awards from the Fellows of Contemporary Art, Art Matters, the City of Los Angeles, the Center for Community Innovation, the California Community Foundation, and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.


Clement Hanami

Clement HanamiDepartment: Department of Public Health/PLACE Vision Zero
Bio: Clement Hanami is a Japanese-American visual artist who grew up in East Los Angeles. He received his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in Studio Art with a specialization in New Genres. His work has been exhibited in California, New York, and Mexico, and has been seen at the Geffen Contemporary, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Armory Center for the Arts, John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, California Museum of Photography, Long Beach Museum of Art, AFI National Video Festival, and the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

Mr. Hanami is currently the Vice President of Exhibitions and Art Director at the Japanese American National Museum and his most recent projects include curating the exhibitions Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066 and Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo. He taught New Genres at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts for 20 years. He was a Cultural Affairs Commissioner for the City of Culver City from 2004 to 2010. He received a Getty Visual Arts Fellowship in 2000 and a COLA Artist Award in 2007 given by the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles.

Olga Koumoundouros

Olga KoumoundourosDepartment: Department of Public Health/Office of Violence Prevention
Bio: The artwork of Olga Koumoundouros uses earthly bound materials and the energy exchanged through acts of labor applied during its own process of making. This is combined with highlighting relationships to power: cultural, economic, and personal as it is consciously fore-fronted as well as historically buried or unconscious. Utilizing narratives from interview, rumor, and her own writing, she constructs art that considers multiple perspectives within these relationships and peoples’ efforts to provide sustenance to themselves collectively and individually. Koumoundouros is represented by Commonwealth and Council. Her work has been exhibited at venues nationally and internationally including most recently Human Resources, Armand Hammer Museum, REDCAT, Salt Lake City Art Center, Krannert Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Palm Springs Art Museum, The Studio Museum, Stadshallen Bellfort, Adamski Gallery, Project Row Houses, and The Tang Museum, among others. Olga was born in New York city and lives and works in Los Angeles.


María del Carmen Lamadrid

Maria del Carmen Lamadrid Department: Registrar Recorder's Office (2018-19)
Bio: Mar&icaute;a del Carmen Lamadrid is a media designer and tinkerer from Puerto Rico currently based in Los Angeles. She is interested in fostering collaborative research methods for civic design practices shaped by post-colonial theory. She completed her MFA in Media Design from ArtCenter College of Design’s Media Design Practice/Field, in partnership with UNICEF Uganda Tech4Dev and the award-winning Designmatters. Currently, she works as lead at SuperCommunity, a civic technologies and art collaborative in Los Angeles. She authored the Social Design Toolkit, a critic of neoliberal practices that foster structural inequality in Social Design. Her work has been recognized and featured in the 2009 National Art Sample of Puerto Rico, the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, University of Brighton, and Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design and Americans for the Arts’s Public Art Network Year in Review 2018.


Alan Nakagawa

Alan NakagawaDepartment: LA County Library
Bio: Alan Nakagawa is an interdisciplinary artist primarily working with sound, occasionally incorporating video, sculpture, drawing, paint, performance, food, and (most recently) perfumes. Nakagawa is currently the Creative Strategist Artist in Resident for LA County Library (2018-19) and Artist in Resident for California State University Dominguez Hills' Praxis Art/ Ninomiya Photographic Archive (2018-19).

He is the host of Visitings Radio Show on DUBLAB radio 99.1 FM, co-founder of the now defunct arts collective Collage Ensemble Inc. (1984-2011), and was the curator of Ear Meal Webcast (2010-2016). Nakagawa is a recipient of two Art Matters grants, City of Los Angeles Artist Fellowship, California Community Foundation Mid-Career Artist Fellowship, and a Monbusho Scholarship. He received a Masters of Fine Arts from University of California Irvine and a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Otis/ Parsons School of Art and Design.


Anu Yadav

Anu YadavDepartment: Department of Mental Health
Bio: Anu Yadav is a critically-acclaimed writer, performer, and theater-based facilitator dedicated to art and social justice. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and holds an MFA in Performance from University of Maryland, College Park. She was the inaugural 2018 DC Public Library Artist-in-Residence and named a Person to Watch in American Theatre Magazine. She wrote and performed the solo shows Meena’s Dream and ‘Capers, and co-founded the storytelling collective CLASSLINES. She is a member of the Actor's Equity Association, the Dramatist's Guild, Alternate ROOTS, Network of Ensemble Theaters, and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. She was the 2019 Pasquin Visiting Artist at Beloit College, teaching, and devising theater for social change.


The partnership with Arts and culture and local artists provides creative and innovative opportunities for raising awareness about traffic deaths, injuries and safety. By communicating through art, each artistic expression attempts to bring the audience to a new way of seeing and understanding traffic safety and the importance of slowing down and not driving while impaired or distracted.
—Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer, and Department of Public Health

Our department is always looking for creative strategies to engage voters and improve our services. We are excited to be part of this new initiative.
—Dean Logan, Registrar of Voters

LA County Library strives to become the center of learning for the community members we serve. This includes both educational and recreational learning for all age groups—youth, teens, and adults. We are excited to partner with Arts and Culture to bring in an expert to help us design arts-based programming at the Library.
—Skye Patrick, Library Director

Engagement through the arts plays a vital role in mental wellbeing and we're delighted to work with Arts and Culture on this thoughtful initiative. We are pleased to welcome Creative Strategist Anu Yadav to our team and supporting how her ideas can positively contribute to DMH Peer Resource, Reintegration and Wellbeing Centers throughout the County.
—Dr. Jonathan E. Sherin, Director of the Department of Mental Health

We are excited to work with our creative artist, who will provide strategies to incorporate art and cultural recreation to enrich LA County Parks programming and services. With the partnership of Arts and Culture, together we will provide access and opportunity to our children and park guests across the County of Los Angeles.
—John Wicker, Director of LA County Parks and Recreation