Charles White Gallery

In the early 2000s, Otis College of Art and Design decided to move its headquarters to Westchester. The Los Angeles Unified School District took over their original location as a new charter elementary school, keeping the gallery that had housed student artwork and exhibitions in tact. The site was named after Charles White, one of the 20th century’s most influential African American painters and printmakers who is famous for his artful renderings of the African American figure. White taught at Otis for fourteen years, mentoring a number of revered African American artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Alonzo David, among others.

The Charles White Gallery houses a collection of White’s work as well as an artist residency run by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art which creates educational programming for students and the community. LACMA’s partnership with LAUSD, which began in 2006, is a great example of the ways in which institutions can foster meaningful relationships with their public. With White’s early adoption of artistic expression in his youth, it makes sense that his legacy would shape a space of education and inclusion.

Through the gallery’s programming, students at Charles White Elementary get to be involved directly with the the art they see on the walls. They are given the tools and guidance that they may not have had access to otherwise. The Charles White Gallery provides students an early introduction to the idea that their artistic expressions are worthy of recognition and support.