Thea Awards Recipients

Thea Awards 2017

Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement - Museum Exhibit on a Limited Budget

TRANSFORMATIONS, Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA USA

TRANSFORMATIONS told the stories of five Long Beach [California] community members who achieved personal transformation in the face of complex experiences that include cancer, prison and gang violence.

Each of the participants selected art works from the collection of the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) to represent the before and after of their story. The common thread is the support received from family and friends that led to the transformation of each participant, and the importance of their connection to art. Some of the participants are artists themselves, others admirers, but for all, in some way both art and community played a central role in their transformation.

This exhibit touched visitors on a deeply personal level and spoke to the entire socio-economic spectrum. It stands as an example of unique storytelling with emotional resonance and strong community impact. The stories told in the exhibition were not sanitized stories. These were blunt, frank universal stories of human durability and determination, inspiring others to face and overcome their own challenges in life. In this way MOLAA hopes to present the emotional power of art and the diversity, challenges and creativity of the community they serve.

Each of five areas in the main gallery had a 4-6 minute video narrated by the participant, personal items relating to those stories and the chosen works of art with quotes describing why they were chosen. After walking through the five participant’s stories, visitors entered a section displaying 20 necklaces, and were encouraged to choose and wear the necklace with the image best representing their own story.

This is true storytelling in an art museum setting – powerful, personal and universally accessible.

Award Credits