Katya Khan: Sculpting Social Landscapes


Inspired by the glider-swing that his grandparent’s had on their farm in Presidio, Texas, Jedi is a glider-swing sculpture by Ismael de Anda III that the vieSide Street Projects present Sculpting Social Landscapes, a public art project by artist Katya Khan – an interactive outdoor installation which will be created through a series of community based art events. People of different ages and abilities are invited to play and socialize in the process of constructing a temporary mini-landscape for physical and sensory exploration. Sculpting Social Landscapes addresses people’s alienation from outdoors, broken linkage in inter-generational communication, and a deficit of open space in the North-West section of Pasadena in particular.

The installation will include five elements: an area planted with wild grasses and flowers, adobe huts surrounded by turf covered mounds, “loose parts” area with sand and gravel, and a labyrinth which will run throughout the whole area connecting the elements with each other. The creation and future use of every element designed for this project will encourage various physical activities and sensory skills: labyrinth will help moving throughout the site, plants will stimulate smell and tactile perceptions, “loose parts” will work with fine motor skills. The events are open to everyone and will involve specific groups from the area, such as children and teenagers from local organizations, seniors from local center and Tierra del Sol Foundation students.

A multidisciplinary group of collaborators will engage public in specific activities intended to activate the use of the space and broaden users’ sensory experiences. Cal Poly Pomona undergraduate landscape architecture students will share their knowledge on history and different types of labyrinths. Adobe construction specialist Michael Leach will teach traditional building technique – a unique sensory therapy engaging body from toes to fingers. Musicians, Joe Berardi and Kira Vollman, will create an interactive sound installation in the labyrinth and perform a piece composed from the sounds collected at the events. An artist Frances Garretson will interact with participants through a cooking and food sharing, engaging one of the necessary senses – taste.

The project will create a space where people, old and young, will interact with each other and be exposed to natural environment in an active way.

Public Events:

Workshop #1 – Community Design Workshop: January 18, 2014 11-1PM
Workshop #2 – Labyrinth Building + Grass Planting: January 25, 2014 11-1 PM.
Opening Event – Labyrinth Exploration + Music + Food: February 8, 2014 11-1 PM. 
Workshop #3 – Sculpting Mounds: February 15, 2014 2014 11-1 PM.
Workshop #4 – Adobe Huts Construction: February 22, 2014 11-1PM.
Closing Event – – “Get Loose” Area Activities + Music Performance: March 8, 2014 11-1PM.

Participating artists:

Katya Khan, Michael Leach, Frances Garretson, Joe Berardi and Kira Vollman

This project is made possible through a grant from the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division and an ARC grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation.wer can touch and ride on with a partner. De Anda considers this style of swing as his first childhood example of “sculpture.” The combination of the swing sculpture’s title Jedi, knights from Star Wars, with fragmented images of Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise, painted on the swing’s surfaces, are a mutation of science fiction universes. Gene Rodenberry, the creator of Star Trek was born in El Paso, Texas, the same place as de Anda. De Anda is interested in how Roddenberry and artists create fantastical worlds that don’t yet exist to inspire future generations to make into real technology. Jedi is also an homage to retiring fabricator Jedidia Dyer, who assisted De Anda in the development and creation of his glider-swing sculptures.


Katya Khan is an artist exploring the field where art, landscape architecture and public involvement meet. Trained in traditional visual arts at St.Petersburg Academy of Art and Design, Russia and landscape architecture at Cal Poly Pomona, Katya works on projects ranging from a design of children’s play spaces to temporary public interventions. Her projects are driven by issues modern urban environment creates, such as lack of human interaction and deficit of sensory experiences in everyday lives. Inspired by free play and collaborative creative process, Katya Khan is passionate about designing unconventional urban public spaces and empowering people to create those spaces. In recent past, she designed a sensory garden for Pilgrim school in Los Angeles with elementary schoolchildren and engaged passers-by in a street happening On Another Scale as part of the “Art in Odd Places” event in New York City. To see Katya’s other projects, please visit urbanomad.com.