An After-School Outlet: Teenage Wasteland of the Arts

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Teenage Wasteland of the Arts (TWA), a private after-school arts program for teens ages 14-19, offers free, two-hour courses on Wednesdays in Los Angeles. Founded last fall by CalArts alumni Thorbjorg Jonsdottir (Film/Video MFA 09) and Lee Lynch (Film/Video BFA 05), the program aims to create an inspiring, philosophical environment for teen artists in which to express their fears, dreams and nightmares; their hopes and angst through positive and safe venues: the arts.

“We do have an emphasis on film and media work, as well as collage, but most of our students also work in other mediums, such as performance and installation work,” says Thorbjorg.

Now located in the Human Resources gallery space in Chinatown, the TWA enlists three instructors (including Jonsdottir and Lynch) and features visiting artists, ranging from visual artists to TV personalities, who work with the teens to develop their skills and prepare their portfolios.

Lynch, a youth educator for more than 10 years, has long thought that teenagers are a “cultural minority, and victims of oppression.”

In an email, Lynch writes: “If Mr. Rogers taught us that we are to learn from children as much as we are to teach them, then the same is true for our teens. It’s time that we give them a voice, and treat them as the mature intellectuals that they are. Our belief at TWA is that if we can begin to give teens a graduate level education, imagine the opportunity that will await them once they reach college.”

Last weekend, Teenage Wasteland students held a culminating exhibition of work at Human Resources (see photo gallery above), wrapping up the first school year of the program. TWA is currently seeking funds to continue operating next fall. To learn more, visit the program’s website.

TWA’s 8-bit, “The Who”-themed promotional video is embedded above.

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