In light of the one year anniversary of the tragedy in Isla Vista, our 5-part series captures the pulse of the community one year later.
To end our series, we headed back to Isla Vista to see how students are using art and light to both reconnect with the past and to move forward.
Most UCSB classes take place on campus, in classrooms. IV Open Labs does not. Art professor Kim Yasuda and her students set up shop at the Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic. The mission of the class is purposely vague. The syllabus describes it as a “project-based, open lecture/lab/seminar/studio/research/learning/teaching environment, designed to situate participants and research into the Isla Vista community.”
Yasuda says the class, which she began last fall, was born out of that awful day.
“I actually initiated the class in the fall because I knew that May 23rd happened and then people left for the summer,” she says.
Kim feared that desire for connection brought on by the candlelight vigil would disentangle over the summer. So she threw a class together that linked public art with public healing and community building.
Their first project was IV First Fridays, a monthly event held in Perfect Park, at the base of Embarcadero Loop.
This semester, they passed on the First Fridays baton to other clubs and are now returning to reckon once again with the tragedy. Like last year’s candlelight vigil, they want to recreate that visual show of solidarity.
“Again, there’s an urgency to capture the good will and capacity of art to make visible coming together, and change,” says Yasuda.
This semester’s art installation is called Blunite. It’s as simple as a blue LED tea light. They were sold at the Pardall student center, which was the first building to be lit.
Each night, new light displays are popping up in the windows of IV stores and apartments. It’s exactly what Kim’s students envisioned. They didn’t want to create the installation so much as facilitate an experience people could then make their own.
“Making those invisible and visible connections are community building. It’s those intangible things that you can’t see, like relationships, and then those visible thing like a light in everyone’s window, that makes a powerful sense that you’re part of something much bigger.”
– Kim Yasuda
Now, a day before the anniversary, light by light, the town has turned bluer and brighter.
Look back on our series here.