Pebbla Wallace is a Management Analyst for the Jury Services Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court in California and has been successfully coordinating the NAP Exhibition at this location for the last nine years.
Pebbla does a tremendous job of making the exhibition extremely inclusive. She also provides a unique twist to the program by displaying the artwork in the three different jury assembly rooms and asking the jurors to vote for their favorite pieces. By doing this, she adds an element of fun to an otherwise (as some people might say) mundane experience. The end result is jury rooms filled with great artwork and three Juror’s Choice Awards chosen directly by the public.
The Los Angeles Superior Court shines as our first ever Court System participating in the National Arts Program®. We hope that others will follow their lead and consider the positive effects the program brings to not only the employees, but to the people who visit the courthouse as well.
Here are Pebbla’s thoughts about the arts and the impact the National Arts Program® has had on the Los Angeles Superior Court…
Q. What makes the National Arts Program® different than any other art exhibit hosted by the Los Angeles Superior Court?
A. The Los Angeles Superior Court only participates in the National Arts Program®. What I believe makes our program distinctive from others, is the people who participate. Many art programs/exhibits participants’ are usually from professional or semi-professional backgrounds, who have displayed their works before. The National Arts Program® at the Los Angeles Superior Court is open to those who have never displayed their artwork before, as well as professionals. From a Judge who dabbles in art during his/her spare time, to a Sheriff bailiff who has a degree in art, to all types of art levels, it’s the participation of the entire court family that really makes this program different from any other.
Q. Why do you feel that displaying employee artwork is important?
A. We display the art in our jury assembly rooms in downtown Los Angeles. We have three jury assembly rooms that host a total of approximately 4,000+ jurors each week. The National Arts Program® is very important to us, as people from all walks of life are able to enjoy it. Also, the artworks by employees let visitors to the assembly room know that there is another person behind that court professional (judge, administrator, court clerk etc.). The usually drab jury assembly rooms are transformed into a cheerful and exciting place for jurors and others to visit.
Q. How have employees and their families responded to the opportunity to display their artwork in the courthouse?
A. There has been nothing but positive feedback from all participants. Many employees participate for the very first time, while others have participated throughout the years. I really think that the youth who participate enjoy it most of all. For most, it is their first time displaying their art for the public. They enjoy the idea that someone else will be viewing their artwork besides mom and dad.
Q. Why do you think displaying artwork in the courthouse is so important?
A. Art is part of our American culture. I think displaying art is culturally important, not just because of its beauty, but it also triggers conversation, and brings together different ideas between people that normally would not be considered.
Also, viewing and experiencing art and the meaning we take from it can change. One day we may experience a piece of art one way, and then another day you may experience it quite differently. When you experience art in different social, political or cultural context – such as a courthouse, it can change your outlook. This is what we hope it does at our courthouse. Displaying artwork at the courthouse gives people a different outlook on life.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of the National Arts Program®?
A. My favorite aspect is collecting the artwork from the participants. It really gives me a chance to talk to the individual artists, and find out more about their artwork, and why they created it. Many times, there are so many different stories behind the artwork that we really don’t get to know about by just looking at it.
Q. Do visitors to the courthouse respond to the employee exhibit?
A. I really don’t get a lot of response about the artwork from the visitors until the day of the award ceremony, or until the last day of the program when the artwork is taken down. The artwork is located in a site that many people would not want to be – in the jury assembly room serving on jury duty.
One of the interesting aspects I have found about the artwork being displayed in our jury assembly rooms, is that it really helps improve the mood of individuals serving on jury duty. Although jury duty is a very important aspect of our judicial system, and an important part of being an U.S. Citizen, we find considerable resistance from county residence to serve. The art helps to brighten and change attitudes.
Q. How has utilizing online registration made the process easier for you?
A. The National Arts Program® is not my only responsibility at the court. I’m in charge of many other public relations activities for the Jury Services Division. Having the online registration has really assisted me in compiling and organizing participants. It has also made it much easier for participants to register. Rather than possibly getting the registration lost in the mail, registering online ensures that I will get their registration.
Q. Can you tell us how art has had a positive impact on your personal life?
A. It is very strange, I think about art in my everyday normal life on a constant basis. Los Angeles is really conducive to that for someone who is an amateur photographer. Los Angeles is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the United States and has a lot of interesting subjects to photograph. I have photographs from all over the city displayed in my home. When I’m walking down the street I’m constantly thinking “that would make a great picture”.
Q. How did you get started in the art field or have you always been involved in the arts? Are you an artist yourself?
A. Since I was a kid I loved art. The first time I was really introduced to art was when I was 6 or 7 years old, and my older sister took me to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the first time. I was mesmerized by art, and couldn’t get enough. Unfortunately, as much as I tried creating something with my fancy crayons, I could barely draw a stick figure. I tried various different forms of art including painting, watercolor, sculpture, crafts, etc. – with very little luck. While on the other hand, my best friend could draw and create anything - I was constantly envious of her talent (by the way, today she is a professional artist).
Finally one day I took a photography class that the local neighborhood school was offering for free – and I was hooked. Finally, art that I actually did well! My instructor told me that I had an eye for photography, which made me even more encouraged to continue.
I have been the coordinator of the National Arts Program® at the Los Angeles Superior Court for nine years. The first year I did not participate, but the second year I enter and received 3rd Place for a photograph that I took while traveling in Spain. When you receive accolades from friends and colleagues at work, it really motivates you to continue with creating art. I really enjoy my participation every year in the National Arts Program®.