Audubon staff and students pose for a photo. (Rodd A. Amos/Los Angeles Sentinel)

Audubon Middle School and Gifted Magnet presented its talent showcase to South L.A. residents on May 18, at 4309 Leimert Blvd in a cozy Leimert Park Village creative space along the Crenshaw Corridor.

Themed “A Love Letter to Los Angeles,” the presentation served as a platform for Audubon scholars to display their achievements from Career and Technical Education classes in Graphic Arts and Video Production.

“I’m proud of our students for taking an introspective look at themselves to express their feelings, ideas, and experiences through art,” beamed Audubon Principal Deanna Hardemion.

“We chose Leimert Park for our showcase because we’re trying to work more collaboratively with the community, where our collective spaces can be used for community events and help patronize the vendors and businesses.

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Student Elora Barley, 13, displays her artwork, “You Have Been Seen.” (Rodd A. Amos/Los Angeles Sentinel)

“We’re a community school, so we thought it appropriate to connect our eclectic group of students with our community,” she said.

“A Love Letter to Los Angeles” produced an impressive display of painting, sculpting, and both gourd and multimedia art that either aired on video monitors, hung from wall mounts, were partitioned, or supported by end tables. Friends and family were treated to an array of snacks and light beverages while experiencing rhythmic music from computer monitors and the faint smoke of incense wafting through the air.

Audubon Link Learning art teacher Chad Davis shared the goal of CTE program courses.

“Our specific learning pathway is Design Visual Media arts, which leads our students right into local high schools to continue their learning,” said Davis.

Assemblymember Isaac Bryan flanked by Audubon CTE instructors Lorne Hollis and Chad Davis. (Rodd A. Amos/Los Angeles Sentinel)

“Audubon is in the heart of the African American community. It’s one of the last schools that highlight our inner-city kids for what they do. They aren’t from the valley or different places that are far out. They’re from this community and they’re ready to express that they live in and love LA,” he said.

Audubon Cultural Arts Coordinator LaToya Alvarez credited the Los Angeles Unified School District for implementing the cultural arts program.

“It has opened a lot of doors for our students to engage in extracurricular activities, like field trips to [dance theater] Alvin Ailey, [soul musical] The Wiz, and Catalina Island. We’re eliminating the barriers that prevent our students from being exposed to our city by having a gifted program on our campus,” she said.

Audubon Magnet Coordinator Valerie Baccus-Doby mused on the inherent qualities she looks for when recruiting students with special abilities.

The official Audubon Middle School banner. (Rodd A. Amos/Los Angeles Sentinel)

“Ours is a gifted magnet. We’re trying to identify that our students are not only recognized in intellect, but in the arts. This is a wonderful way to display the work of especially students of color who are gifted, and that’s very important to me,” she added.

Audubon gifted magnet student and ASB Secretary Elora Barley explained what inspired her partitioned-mounted art piece, “You Have Been Seen.”

“It lets people who don’t feel seen or heard know that they are not alone on this journey. No matter what you’ve been through, we see and hear you. There are people who will help you, support you, and won’t give up on you. That’s my art,” she concluded.

The free event was sponsored by Audubon Middle’s Cultural Arts Program and Community Schools and community partners like Pathways Los Angeles, Pulse Arts, Connected to Lead, Change the Tune, Harmony Project, Brotherhood Crusade, and G.U.M.P. Nation.

Leimert Park Village is recognized as one of the nation’s historic Black neighborhoods and has become the center of both historical and contemporary African-American art, music, and culture in South LA. The community can be accessed by the Metro K line, Leimert Park Station.

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