Lectures | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

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The art of marking skin with ink spans cultures, continents, and has evolved over time. We find ourselves with a mysterious fascination for both ancient and modern tattoo practices. Spend your Thursday evenings at NHMLA as we explore stories of identity and culture, from historical to contemporary, and the imprint of the art of tattoo.


November 30, 2017 - Black and Gray: California's Homegrown Style
March 29, 2018 - Returning to Grandmother's Beauty: The Indigenous Women's Journey of Tattoo
April 12, 2018: Women's Ink: A Discussion by and about Women Tattooists 


6 pm Doors open
7 pm Discussion
8 pm Explore Tattoo
9 pm Evening Concludes


Exhibition + Lecture: Members $10, Nonmembers: $12
*Exhibition Only (does not include the discussion), Members: FREE 


*If you're unable to make it to the discussion but want to see the TATTOO exhibition after hours, Members can see the exhibition only for FREE with reservation and Nonmembers can still enjoy the exhibition with their ticket purchase above. 




Ticket price includes admission to TATTOO, the exhibition that explores more than 5,000 years of history, culture, and art connected to ink through specially commissioned, tattooed silicone forms; hand-drawn art; videos of tattoo ceremonies; interviews with luminary practitioners; and the technology and tools of the trade—all while also spotlighting the vibrant tattoo scene in L.A. 



November 30, 2017 ǀ Black & Gray: California's Homegrown Style with Jack Rudy, Freddy Negrete,  Franco Vescovi and Carlos Torres moderated by Josh Chesler
Join four legendary black and gray tattoo artists for an honest discussion about how the colorless style became synonymous with Los Angeles. Listen to the stories of the artists who have been there since the beginning, as they talk about tattooing’s evolution from street corners to fine art galleries and museums.




Jack Rudy

As Charlie Cartwright's apprentice and employee in the 1970s, Jack Rudy was arguably the very first artist to commit himself to the black and gray style in a professional tattoo setting. Still the owner of Good Time Charlie's Tattooland to this day, Rudy's work and legacy in both black and gray tattooing as well as lettering is every bit as timeless as it is historic.



Freddy Negrete

Often considered the godfather of black and gray tattoos, Freddy Negrete is widely regarded as the man most responsible for bringing the colorless style out of California prisons and into shops in the 1970s. A former Chicano gangster who turned his hard times into beautiful artwork, Negrete is now a legendary tattoo artist working out of Shamrock Social Club in West Hollywood.



Franco Vescovi

The owner of Vatican Studios and Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machines in Orange County, Franco Vescovi is a lifelong black and gray artist who grew up admiring and imitating the style's founders and originators. These days, Vescovi's art can also be found on the skin, walls, and album covers of musicians like Blink-182 and Pink.



Carlos Torres

At the forefront of the artists turning black and gray tattooing into fine art, Carlos Torres is as much a renowned painter as he is a masterful tattoo artist. After growing up in the streets of Los Angeles with dreams of traveling the world, the owner of the Long Beach studio, The Raven and the Wolves, both paints and tattoos for high-end clients who fly around the globe to get a piece of his signature artwork.


March 29, 2018 ǀ Returning to Grandmother’s Beauty: Indigenous Women’s Journey of Tattoo with L. Frank Manriquez, Lena Bommelyn, Sage LaPena, Heidi Lucero, moderated by Loren Bommelyn
The Clime in California has been enriched by the emboldened indigenous women and their journey returning to facial tattoos of their grandmothers. These women face American society in stride with their faces and bodies enhanced with traditional tattoos rooted in the dreamtime traditions of their ancestors. They expose their struggles and challenges faced in achieving their walk in contemporary society as full native women.


Check back again for tickets. 


April 12, 2018 ǀ Women’s Ink: A Discussion by and about Women Tattooists with Margot Mifflin, Kari Barba, and ROXX moderated by Cara Santa Maria  
Two celebrated artists and a historian discuss the challenges women have faced in breaking into a traditionally male profession, and the ways women’s ink has revolutionized tattoo art.

Check back again for tickets. 


Climate change is the existential crisis of the 21st century. How it plays out, how we can curb it, and how we adjust to the changes already underway will define our generation. This fall, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, in collaboration with UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability, has designed a new kind of climate series; a four-night conversation between the L.A. community and some of the world's experts on all things climate change. 

October 5 - Climate Change Cliff Notes
October 19 - Earth and Human Climate
November 2 - A Tale of Two Cities in a Hotter World: Los Angeles and Beijing
November 16 - Imagined Futures for a Hotter Planet

*** Miss a past discussion? View the videos below or listen HERE! ***

Free admission with online reservation:

ATTENTION: All advanced reservations have been distributed. 
***Additional tickets will be released at the door on the night of the program***

6 pm: Doors open
7 pm: Discussion/Lecture followed by Q&A
8:30 pm: Program concludes

This lecture series is hosted at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum


October 5, 2017 ǀ Climate Change Cliff Notes
There are so many questions about climate change and climate science. Is climate change right now really worse than climate change in the past? Isn’t it true that there has been a pause in warming in the ten years? Will the ice caps melt? Can we really blame heat waves, hurricanes, and droughts on global warming? With The Madhouse Effect author Michael Mann; creator of the California Weather Blog, Daniel Swain, and USC Associate Professor of Earth Science, Sarah Feakins with moderator Bob Lalasz, founder and principal consultant of Science+Story Communications.




Michael Mann

Dr. Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth's climate system. Dr. Mann is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and has published three books, most recently, The Madhouse Effect with Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles.



Daniel Swain

Daniel Swain is a climate scientist in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. His research focuses on atmospheric processes that cause droughts and floods, along with the changing character of extreme weather events in a warming world. A life-long Californian (and alumnus of both UC Davis and Stanford University), Daniel also authors the widely-read Weather West blog (www.weatherwest.com), which provides unique perspectives on weather and climate in California and the Western U.S.



Sarah Feakins

Dr. Sarah Feakins is an Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California. Sarah has over fifteen years’ experience conducting research on climate and ecosystems, and runs a research laboratory at USC. She frequently gives invited lectures on her research at institutions around the world. She has appeared on television and radio and is frequently quoted in the news on topics ranging from past climate and human evolution to California’s water. Sarah obtained an undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Oxford, and her doctorate from Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.



Bob Lalasz

Bob Lalasz is the founder & principal consultant of Science+Story Communications, which builds thought leadership strategies and systems for research-driven organizations. Lalasz started Science+Story in 2015 after a long career in research marketing and communications, including five years as director of science communications for The Nature Conservancy.


October 19, 2017 ǀ Earth & Human Climate History
We can get hints about what climate change could mean for our planet and the things that live on it by looking at climate change in the past. With Assistant Curator at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Emily Lindsey and University of Notre Dame Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology, Agustín Fuentes, with moderator Michelle Bezanson, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Santa Clara University.



Emily Lindsey

Dr. Emily L. Lindsey is Assistant Curator and Excavation Site Director at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, and adjunct faculty in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA.  Her research focuses on using information from past and present ecosystems to understand how Ice Age animals and environments functioned, how climate change and human actions intersect to drive extinctions, and to predict future ecological response in the face of modern global change.  She studied at Brown University, the University of California – Berkeley, and the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural in Uruguay, before joining NHMLA in 2016.



Agustín Fuentes

Agustín Fuentes is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. His current research includes cooperation and community in human evolution, ethnoprimatology and multispecies anthropology, evolutionary theory, and interdisciplinary approaches to human nature(s). Recent books include “Race, Monogamy, and other lies they told you: busting myths about human nature” (U of California), “Conversations on Human Nature” (with Aku Visala, Left Coast/Routledge), and “The Creative Spark: how imagination made humans exceptional” (Dutton).



Michelle Bezanson

Michelle Bezanson is a biological anthropologist with research interests in evolutionary anthropology, primate positional behavior, and tropical forest ecology. Her field research has focused on infant, juvenile, and adult positional Behavior (posture and locomotion), tail use, and the behavioral, arboreal, and resource-based contexts of locomotor patterns in both New World and Old World primates. Currently, she is investigating how white-faced capuchins interact with and modify their arboreal environment to determine if they influence tree growth and epiphyte load. In addition, she is investigating the sustainability of anthropological field research and teaching in fragile ecosystems.


November 2, 2017 ǀ A Tale of Two Cities in a Hotter World: Los Angeles & Beijing
It is tough to feel urgency when climate change seems like something happening to future generations, in faraway lands. The reality is, it is and will affect all of us, in every city on the planet. And it’s not all bad, by the way—some cities and people could benefit from global warming. To make climate change personal, local, and real, let’s talk about how it will affect two of the greatest cities in the world, Los Angeles and Beijing. We’ll compare notes on each city’s infrastructure and governance, actual on-the-ground impacts, and how residents might react. With UCLA Professor of Atmospheric & Ocean Sciences and Director, IoES Center for Climate Science, Alex Hall; UCLA Evolutionary Biologist Ecologist and Conservation Biologist, Brad Shaffer; and the founding Director of Natural Resources Defense Council’s China Environmental program, Alex Wang with moderator Stephanie Wear, Senior Scientist and Strategy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy.

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Alex Hall

Dr. Alex Hall is Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Director of the Center for Climate Science in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. He has been active in the development of "downscaling" techniques to create neighborhood-scale projections of future climate, and he and his team recently completed downscaling studies over the Los Angeles region and the Sierra Nevada. Alex was a Lead Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report's chapter on regional climate change, and in 2016, he received the American Geophysical Union's Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award.



Brad Shaffer

Evolutionary biology, ecology and conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles. Recent research projects include comparative phylogeography of amphibians and reptiles in California and the central U.S., systematics of freshwater turtles and tortoises in Australia, California, and the rest of the globe, and conservation genetics of endangered California amphibians and reptiles. Recently, we have focused a great deal of ecological and genetical work on the California tiger salamander, an endangered species native to central California grassland habitat.



Alex Wang

Alex Wang is Assistant Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law. His research focuses primarily on the social effects of law and governance institutions in China and the United States. Prior to 2011, Prof. Wang was a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) based in Beijing and the founding director of NRDC’s China Environmental Law & Governance Project for nearly six years. He has also worked as an attorney at the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Prof. Wang holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law, and earned his B.S. in Biology with distinction from Duke University.



Stephanie Wear

Stephanie Wear is a marine ecologist and spokesperson at The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental organization. Throughout her career, she has focused on researching and developing new strategies to reduce threats to coral reefs, paying special attention to how the fates of reefs and people are intertwined. Since joining the Conservancy in 2001, she has developed strategies to address global drivers that threaten coral reefs, developed training programs for reef managers and become a recognized media spokesperson on reef conservation.


November 16, 2017 ǀ Imagining Futures for a Hotter Planet
Artists, writers and media organizations are playing vital roles in conveying the science and ethics of global warming. This conversation will explore how experiments in environmental storytelling and media imagine possible futures for different communities and ecosystems in the context of planetary climate change. With poet-scholar Rita Wong; Media artist and NYU professor Marina Zurkow; KCET Chief Creative Officer, Juan Devis; and Whittier College associate professor and Nadine Austin Wood Chair in American History, Natale Zappia, with moderator Allison Carruth, UCLA professor and director of LENS.

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Rita Wong

Rita Wong lives and works on unceded Coast Salish Territories, also known as Vancouver, BC, Canada. Dedicated to questions of water justice, decolonization and ecology, she is the author of monkeypuzzle, forage, sybil unrest (with Larissa Lai), undercurrent, and perpetual (with Cindy Mochizuki), as well as the co-editor of Downstream: Reimagining Water (with Dorothy Christian). Wong is a poet-scholar who teaches at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.



Marina Zurkow

Marina Zurkow is a media artist focused on near-impossible nature and culture intersections. She uses life science, materials, and technologies to foster intimate connections between people and non-human agents. A 2011 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow, Zurkow has been granted awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Creative Capital. She is on faculty at ITP / Tisch School of the Arts, and is represented by bitforms gallery.



Juan Devis

As Chief Creative Officer, Juan Devis is responsible for the oversight of all production and editorial output from long-form episodes to short-form digital series. His role in developing strategic partnerships with funders, organizations and independent production houses ensures a new slate of content for both KCET in Southern California and Link TV nationwide. Devis develops creative strategies that define KCET Link’s editorial and artistic vision. He also spearheads the stations’ arts and culture initiatives and produces the Emmy® award-winning Artbound and The Migrant Kitchen, as well as current series that include Lost LA, Tending The Wild, among others.



Natale Zappia

Natale Zappia is an associate professor and the Nadine Austin Wood Chair in American History at Whittier College. His work explores the intersection of food systems, Indigenous political economies, and ecological transformations across early North America. His recent book, Traders and Raiders: The Indigenous World of the Colorado Basin (UNC Press, 2014; paperback 2016), tells the early history of the Lower Colorado River, a watershed that looms large over the modern urban landscaped of Los Angeles. Zappia is now at work on a new book, “Food Frontiers: Native Space and Power in Early North America,” which explores the longue durée of America’s food history. Before Whittier College, Zappia served as the Executive Director of the Garden School Foundation, an environmental non-profit based in South Los Angeles focusing on ecological literacy. He continues his focus on food justice issues as co-director of Whittier College’s Sustainable Urban Farm Lab, as well as other projects around the city.



Allison Carruth

Allison Carruth teaches at UCLA, where she's an Associate Professor of English and faculty director of the Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS). Her research explores interactions between literature and science, the cultural histories of American food movements, and experiments in environmental storytelling and art. She is the author of Global Appetites and a co-founder of the public art and engagement project Play the LA River.