Agency to Advocate

2016 Luminaria Collaboration: Make Stuff


Sutton Oaks Park youth working with animator Gary Schwartz

openED SA is proud to have been able to document a 2106 Luminaria collaboration of Sutton Oaks apartments and academy award nominated animator Gary Schwartz.

Sutton Oaks apartments is located in the eastside promise zone (EPN) zipcode, just blocks away from where Luminaria 2016 took place.


joey phd, Gary Schwartz, Victor Zuniga

The collaboration came together when joey lopez phd, openED SA co-founder, as well as Luminaria artist curation board member, was doing initial workshop planning with Victor Zuniga, the then Sutton Oaks Apartments community activities director.  Part of joey’s role as a curation board member for Luminaria was to reach out to east side communities and involve them with Luminaria activities.

Having worked with artists from all over the world and locally, joey was able to narrow down an artist he thought would give the community an experience that could potentially be transformative.  Gary is a world renowned animator, but much more then that he is a civic engager and community art advocate for which joey met at the 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival after giving a talk about film communities.  After contacting Gary and Victor and both enthusiastically agreeing to work together, we were on our way.


Luis & Victor playing with the drone at Luminaria 2016

openED SA members joey lopez phd, Jeremy Zunker and Luis Vasquez agreed to help document the initiative throughout the process by taking photos and video.


Mary Cantu & Gary Schwartz

joey lopez phd reached out to Mary Cantu of spare parts, as Gary had stated an interest in using re-use art materials for the video.  Mary began collecting materials through the summer.  joey and Jeremy worked with Victor and the youth to create an audio sound track as requested by Gary.  Gary stated that his approach to making animations with communities revolves around the audio track.

In an effort to make the audio recording as fun as possible, joey brought a sound recorder to a weekly workshop that openED SA is piloting with the Sutton Oaks Apartments and recorded the kids making various statements, both he and the kids made up.  One such statement that stuck out and really resonated with the group was “MAKE STUFF.”


Sutton Oaks Park apartment youth after having recorded their sound track

The origins of MAKE STUFF comes from the ACTLab, founded by Sandy Stone, a new media artist and visionary at UT Austin.  The full saying is “MAKE STUFF, TAKE RISKS, BE AWESOME!”

The kids ran around a table yelling into the recorder joey was holding while yelling various statements and thus the track was made.  Yes, it was a great time!


Gary Schwartz teaching Sutton Oaks Park apartment youth about animation.

The week before Luminaria Gary flew into San Antonio, TX from Detroit, MI, after having spent a month in Armenia working with youth on a stop motion animation workshop.  Gary got settled in and then Victor, the openED SA members and the Sutton Oaks apartment youth began a series of workshops to create an animation that lasted over 3 days.

joey gathered the supplies for the workshop that Gary requested, such as the resuse materials provided by spare parts, a tripod and with Jeremy tracked down 2 overhead projectors on


Sutton Oaks Park youth experimenting with the materials they created.

The workshops went wonderfully, with Gary teaching the kids and parents who attended about the basics of stop motion animation.  He then showed them the process they would be using to create the frames and off they went.

The youth learned very quickly and began cutting out letters, lips and began experimenting with the re-use materials and the over head projector to create the frames.  Gary would then use the children’s concepts after the workshops to further create frames.  Overall over 700 frames were taken to make the 30 second piece as Gary shot at 25 frames per second, the European specification for film making.


Victor, Sutton Oaks Park apartments family and Gary at Luminaria

On the night of Luminaria Gary, Victor, the openED SA group and some of the Sutton Oaks youth showed up to the event and were able to get to see the animation on a LED screen that was over 100″ and provided a color depth and brightness that really did justice to the work.

Attendees were amazed and many compliments were give to Gary, Victor and the youth.


Victor, Sutton Oaks Park apartments family and Gary at Luminaria

Being able to actively document the process of this collaboration was great for openED SA and we look forward to working with other artists and communities to foster artistic collaborations and workshops.  We would also like to thank Luminaria for hosting Gary Schwartz and giving joey a shot to help with the Luminaria Artist Selection committee.  And of course a special thanks to Mary Cantu and spare parts for providing the re-use materials!

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