Who is Cara Levine?
Published Palisadian-Post March 1, 2018
Cara Levine has come home. The artist, who was initially featured in the Palisadian-Post in 2002 as a schoolgirl, has returned to Los Angeles with an impressive portfolio of international shows and a growing sense of the importance of art in social justice.
For her latest series, “This is Not a Gun”, Levine is carving replicas of items mistaken for guns by police officers that resulted in civilian shootings. The items range from an iPod to a wrench; a bottle of cologne to a walker; and each piece is indented in the places where they were held. Their owner’s absence is literally seen on on the object.
As she carves, Levine listens to audio feed of texts that give her context, a wide range of works and research that informs her and focuses her intent on the piece she is making. She says, “(I’m) trying to understand things I don’t understand through the making of the work.” And the series is, at it’s most fundamental, about race in America.
Levine has thought hard about making work about black deaths, which, as a white woman of privilege, is not in her direct experience. She says, “It is not enough to make these objects. It’s not about me.” So an important part of the series is in the accompanying workshops, held in collaboration with black artist/activists. The most recent took place in December 2017 with dancer Shamell Bell, in which participants used clay to craft the fatal objects.
Levine’s learning style is experiential, where the physical act of whittling wood, or molding clay, leads to a profound involvement with her subject. She hopes that workshop participants also find that connection and gain insights not readily available in other ways.
Much of Levine’s work comes from understanding that place of bodily knowledge. She shared that a complicated ankle injury, involving more than one surgery, left her in chronic pain for more than ten years. All but invisible to the outside world, the injury and a resultant migraine condition fettered her, hampering her everyday engagement and throwing her back onto her own resources.
The experience led to her involvement with the disability arts movement. She has partnered with organizations such as United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) and Project Grow – a center for people with developmental disabilities – to turn challenges into art and give expression to often dismissed voices. As with her work on race, she is trying to prompt a response, recognition from the comfortable people of “the reality (that) they live in, versus the reality for everyone else”.
As a third generation Angelena, returning home has both resolved and posed more questions for Levine. Her parents still live in El Medio Bluffs and she remembers a bucolic childhood of swimming at the YMCA in Temescal Canyon, visiting Mort’s Deli and having her Bat Mitzvah at the Lutheran church on Sunset/El Medio. She notes the major changes to the village, however she is optimistic. She says she feels the Palisades remains a safe place to grow up and have the sort of independent adventures that allowed her to become the artist we see today.
Visit Cara Levine’s website http://www.caralevine.com/work for more information about her work and to find out when the next participatory workshop is being held.
ANNUAL APPEAL LETTER
Sent in October 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11
Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club
Working with: Addie Stalk, Secretary
Type of Business: Charity
Services: Strategic planning, copywriting, press and public relations.
A Women’s Club founded in 1905, SMBWC sought to revitalize its membership and increase public awareness of its role in the community.
• Introduction of Pass the Dish, monthly members’ suppers.
• Redesign, copywriting and editing of monthly members’ newsletter.
• Launch of SMBWC Facebook page.
• 80% membership now receives their newsletter in the form of an interactive PDF, saving print and postage costs.
• The Club won the General Federation of Women’s Clubs’ district award for most increased membership of the year.
• The age of the average member has dropped by eight years.
• Extensive press campaign to support the introduction of the history lecture program and spoken word events.
• SMBWC Public Relations campaign to foster relationships with Santa Monica City Government, business leaders and educators, including attendance at citywide festivals and addressing the City Council meetings.
• History lectures, four per year, now have an average attendance of 130 people. Events are featured in all local news outlets.
• Rental business has increased by 20%.