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Sabato Rodia's Towers in WattsArt, Migrations, Development$
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Luisa Del Giudice

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257966

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257966.001.0001

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Reading the Watts Towers, Teaching Los Angeles

Reading the Watts Towers, Teaching Los Angeles

Storytelling and Public Art

(p.275) Reading the Watts Towers, Teaching Los Angeles
Sabato Rodia's Towers in Watts

Monica Barra

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines the Towers within a convergence of several disparate, yet interconnected, discourses about cities, history, monumentality, and public art in order to demonstrate how Simon Rodia's artwork gestures toward a particular production of space that is distinctly of a place, in general, and particularly Los Angeles. It first considers how narratives about cities and art circulate and interact in a fluid process of becoming within space and through time. Drawing on Italian writer Italo Calvino's work Invisible Cities, it uses the dialogic conversations about cities between the two main characters to begin to open up the possibility of reimagining how a place is collaboratively created through the stories told about it. From here it considers how storytelling as a form of history making is a salient way to think about how we teach and engage the politics of place. Finally, it looks into how embracing a more collaborative and processual approach to understanding urban environments based on narratives and storytelling interfaces with more specific theoretical engagements with the question of urban space.

Keywords:   Watts Towers, cities, monumentality, public art, Simon Rodia, urban space, Los Angeles

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