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SMC Receives Grant to Tell Santa Monica, Westside Stories


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December 14, 2018 -- Stories about Santa Monica not often told or heard will get an airing thanks to a $100,000 grant to Santa Monica College (SMC), officials announced Friday.

The funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) was part of a total of $14.8 million in grants to support 253 humanities projects in 44 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The money will fund an art history project titled “Mapping and Preserving the Hidden Histories of Santa Monica” spearheaded by SMC professors Briana Simmons and Walter Meyer, officials said.

“Santa Monica College is constantly seeking ways to move beyond the established narrative and to push the envelope in how we prepare our students to become responsible and creative scholars,” said Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President.

“I am enthusiastic about the potential that this project championed by our Art History professors bears to do just that, while creating a vital, inclusive repository of diverse stories not often heard.”

The project will create a digital database of art history narratives of the region, including Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu, "with a special emphasis on telling stories not often told, or heard," officials said.

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Under professors Meyer and Simmons, approximately 2,000 students in eight Art History courses will help develop the database, which will be made available to students of other humanities courses at the college.

Simmons and Meyer will work with local community organizations, including the City of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica History Museum, the Santa Monica Conservancy and the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) to identify the best locations for research.

"The art, architecture, and history of the locations will be integrated into the research project, which will be a part of a series of SMC (courses)," officials said.

They include Western Art History and Latin American Art History courses; Art Appreciation: Introduction to Global Visual Culture; Art of Asia (Prehistory to 1900), and Introduction to African Art History.

“It is tremendously exciting to further develop the digital humanities at SMC and to think of all the benefits this research project will create,” said Meyer.

The project, he said, is “not just for the students who will help develop the digital database, but for the entire community who will, as a result, see Santa Monica and West Los Angeles in a whole new way.”


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