The Ofrenda Community Project, Kiana’s Reflection
A collaboration between the Museum & WriteGirl
Community voices within museum exhibits bring added value, perspectives, and spirit. In partnership with WriteGirl, a creative writing and mentoring organization that promotes creativity and critical thinking, the Community Engagement team at the Museum created The Ofrenda Community Project. Participants received at-home storytelling kits anchored in the ofrenda or altar located in the Becoming Los Angeles exhibition. WriteGirl youth selected an inspiration object in the ofrenda that they felt drawn to and created a memory map based on that object to explore connections and meaning in their personal experiences. They then crafted their own object to add to the ofrenda and developed a creative writing piece derived from the memory map activity.
Kiana’s inspiration piece from the ofrenda was a frog figurine placed in the L.A. River section of the ofrenda, pictured below. This frog represents the L.A. neighborhood of Elysian Valley, also known by the nickname of Frogtown, which is adjacent to the L.A. River in Northeast L.A.
MEET KIANA, 16 YEARS OLD FROM ORCHARD HILLS, CALIFORNIA
Kiana is a WriteGirl Bold Leader and has been a WriteGirl mentee for over a year. She is a junior at Orange County School of the Arts as part of the Popular Music Conservatory where she studies music and the performing arts. She is passionate about singing and songwriting and enjoys performing her original songs. Kiana also loves to volunteer. Fueled by her passion for working with her community, she founded a community service club, Little Way of Love, and had a vision to coordinate classes for kids who do not have access to an arts education. Her club now provides classes in six arts areas including dance, visual arts, musical theatre, acting, voice, and creative writing to more than 100 kids in her community. Kiana is proud to be a WriteGirl Bold Leader and is excited for this year’s event at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
I have childhood memories of home-cooked food, festive music, and salty breeze that all come together in the melodic song of the coquí. The coquí is a tiny frog native to tropical Puerto Rico. Its signature whistle call is as unique as its home, the island that stole my heart.
The warm air is sticky
It clings to bronzed skin
Yet it’s dark
Only stars and dim lights remain
The aged city sleeps
Yet harmonies endure
They surround and engulf,
Swelling in the air and filling homes
So loud but small –
Brown little specks that are missed
In daylight but the night is their stage
Performing for crowds of innocent bystanders
Sleeping children have dreams filled with their song
A melody that represents
The sound of the people
The sound of a home that is almost mine
I think about the small island that holds so many memories
The soft sun that will make you stick to your shirt
Or the vibrant structures that adorn the familiar streets
But one thing that will always linger in me is the sound
The high-pitched whistles
Call me back to the island
They make me remember
And I quietly yearn for those nights with family
Outside on their cracking patio
In front of the vast harbor
Looking onto Old San Juan
In a chair that is almost on its last legs
Laughing for hours
While children begin to drift off in parents’ laps
Surrounded by my favorite sound –
Kiana documents the making of her ofrenda object
Hmm, where do I start? Molding the clay to create the little body of the coquí.
Struggling to put his legs together! The smaller pieces kept sticking to my fingers :/
He’s so cute, I want to squish him! It’s starting to look like a coquí.
Smile, Mr. Coqui. You’re on camera!
On his way to his WriteGirl debut at the L.A. Natural History Museum!
Wilfredo Falcón, Flickr
Common coqui frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui
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