Last week, we listened to MFA student Maru Garcia present “Vacuoles”, her project highlighting the public health disaster of lead poisoning cases in LA.

I was shocked to discover that this issue was occurring in my very own community. For such a serious problem, I haven’t heard anything about it until hearing Maru’s presentation. It seems like LA officials are either ignoring it or keeping it from public knowledge, which is extremely concerning. Maru’s project demonstrated how artists can bring awareness to societal issues with thoughtfully-made, provocative pieces.

I thought the project was very smartly done. I liked that each vacuole represented a site in LA that had been affected by arsenal poisoning, but I wish that they were arranged to reflect the actual positions within LA. This would give viewers a better idea of the physical scope of the issue. However, I loved the multimedia incorporations—video clips of affected sites in the background and printed records of public health data on the wall. In general, I love how thoughtful and well-researched this project was. I really appreciated how Maru took the time to get her own lead levels tested, as the inclusion of her own medical record served as a reminder that this is a real problem that could affect all of us. The poem on the wall was beautiful as well, even if it seemed a little random.

Overall, I think Maru did a great job. This project is a little hard to understand when you visit it independently, but with Maru’s presentation all the pieces come together. If it is ever on display in the future or in another gallery, it may be helpful if she puts together a video explanation to accompany the artwork.