5 design things to do: March 5-11

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Coming up: See the human form in clay at Craft Contemporary, and make some masks; celebrate the work of Elena Manferdini at SCI-Arc; meet "Transcendients" at the Japanese American Museum; find out what happened to Utopianism at the Wende Museum; and hear about User Generated Cities from Dr. Geeta Mehta at MOCA. 

1) Clay Biennial -- and mask-making -- at Craft Contemporary

Craft Contemporary has opened its second Clay Biennial. "The Body, The Object, The Other" uses the human body as a springboard for material and conceptual experimentation with ceramics. Emerging and established artists (including Brie Ruais, whose Topology of a Garden, Southwest, is shown above) demonstrate how, at a variety of scales and modes of expression from sculptural objects to site-specific installations and performative works. And if you go this Thursday, you can get creative yourself: LA artist Mimi Haddon will teach the art and craft of mask-making, at a class starting 7pm. See one of her creations, top of page.

When: Through May 10, 2020; Tuesday -- Sunday (click here for hours)

Where: Craft Contemporary, 5814 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036 

Tickets: Free for members and children under 10; General: $9; click here for more information. 

2) Book Launch & Reception: Elena Manferdini: Portraits and Landscapes

Engineer, architect, textile, fashion and product designer and teacher, Elena Manferdini melds science, technology and art in ways that are always rigorous and highly decorative. Now comes a monograph of the work created by her firm, Atelier Manferdini, over the last six years of design. Meet Elena and learn about her projects, subdivided into two volumes: Landscapes and Portraits. The titles "allude to two distinct picture plane orientations: horizontal and vertical."

When:  Monday, March 9, 6pm. 

Where:  Kappe Library, SCI-Arc, 960 East 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Tickets:  Free and open to the public. Click here for more details.

3) Transcendients Community Celebration: Challenging Borders

“Transcendients” combines two words, explains Japanese American Museum curators: “transcend” and “transient,” to speak to the human experience of refuge or borderlessness—one marked by "uncertainty and vulnerability, yet also hope and transcendence." This Saturday more than fifty Transcendients “heroes” will address this experience from multiple dimensions, including Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen (author of the brilliant novel The Sympathizer) and KCRW’s own Evan Kleiman, who will discuss borders in relation to food with “Gangsta Gardener” Ron Finley and Executive Director of Inclusive Action for the City Rudy Espinoza. The Transcendients Community Celebration: Challenging Borders is free one-day event. But while there, be sure to check out the exhibition, "Transcendients: Heroes at Borders", a contemporary art exhibition by Taiji Terasaki.

When: Saturday, March 7 from 11am - 5pm

Where:   Japanese American National Museum; 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Tickets: Check janm.org/visit for hours and admission fees.

4) "In Search of Our Times" -- a conversation about utopian thinking

The twentieth century has seen the devastating effects of a blind belief in ideological blueprints, from fascism and national socialism to “real existing” socialism. But can we survive without utopian ideas? Do we need an inspiring vision and sense of direction to take care of ourselves and our environment? How much dreaming is needed to shape our world? These are questions posed by Joes Segal, the Chief Curator and Director of Programming at the always fascinating Wende Museum in Culver City. He will discuss ”Roads and Shortcuts to Utopia” with Christopher Hawthorne, Chief Design Officer of Los Angeles; Culver City Councilman Thomas Small, Enrique Martinez Celaya, a painter, philosophy, and physicist; and children’s book author Cornelia Funke. While at the Wende, check out their blooming cactus garden and the current show, “The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain.”

When: Sunday, March 8; 2pm: Reception; 3pm: Discussion

Where:   The Wende Museum, 10808 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230

Tickets: Free and open to the public; click here for more information.

5) Dr. Geeta Mehta talks about User Generated Cities

Dr. Geeta Mehta, teacher of architecture and urban design at Columbia University, garnered attention for her urban design projects in numerous countries including India, China, Ukraine, Brazil, Jamaica, Ghana and the U.S where she advises the the New York City Mayor on waterfront development. She also co-founded “URBZ: User Generated Cities,” with the goal of help underserved communities transform their own neighborhoods through advocacy and by improving public spaces and homes. She will share her vision and stories at MOCA in her role as this year's Donghia Designer-in-Residence at Otis College of Art and Design. 

When: Wednesday, March 11; 7:00pm Open Seating; 7:30pm Lecture with reception to follow.

Where: Ahmanson Auditorium at MOCA, 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA  90012

Tickets: Free and open to the public; Reservations are recommended as seating is limited to 150. Call 310.665.6867 or email architecturelandscapeinteriors@otis.edu to reserve a seat(s). Click here for more information.


An earlier version of this "5 Things to Do" list promoted Nowruz at UCLA, scheduled for this Sunday. The event has been cancelled due to concerns about coronavirus.