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Liv Oliveros: How Art is As Concrete as Our Commitments

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Futures Fellow Liv Oliveros (second from left), and other attendees at the California 100 Youth Futures Summit in Sacramento on March 12, 2023.

Liv Oliveros was a California 100 Futures Fellow and student at UC Davis, a California College Corps Fellow and an EQUIP Fellow on campus. She was born in the Philippines and enjoys writing poetry, and occasionally performing at spaces that welcome her complex queer, immigrant identity. Liv believes that it takes a community to uplift a scholar, and that leadership is learnership.

Learn more about the 2023 Youth Futures Summit and explore our collective visions, strategies, solutions and commitments for the Future of California at youth.california 

On November 7, 2022, in the middle of fall quarter, I tested positive for COVID-19. Of course I self-isolated, and of course, I never lost sight of my commitments. 

Still, I remember the long wait. It was a wild time filled with uncertainty because I had never tested positive before. As much as I was freaking out about the present I also worried about what this would mean for my future. 

Coincidentally and thankfully, a virtual creative workshop facilitated by graphic artist Golnoush Pak gave me some room to breathe. The first few months of senior year already had with it an atmosphere of ideas and actions, yet my momentum somehow started to make me feel as if I was going through the motions. However, that time and space to take a break and make art gave me a moment to reflect upon the good ol’ siblings: Past, Present, and Future. I was given the opportunity to do this in relation to how I saw myself in California. 

California 100 has given me wonderful opportunities to interact with inspiring peers, industry experts, organizations, and more. Golnoush’s quick ‘zine activity is among those experiences that I am grateful for. It reminded me of why I got so drawn to the initiative’s vision and strategy to begin with. 

For the exercise, Golnoush asked us questions about our experiences;

What is your first memory of California?

What comes to mind when you think of California?

What is your Future Self doing in California fifty years from now?

First recollection of California.
Words, when California comes to mind.

Who are they with?

What would they tell you?

What would you tell them right now?

California, in my Future Self’s eyes and voice.

Through concretizing on paper my various layers of connection to California, I felt reinvigorated. Every page had its own energy that I can feel to this day as I revisit my ‘zine. To me, art is a way to convey even the most complex aspects of our existence and deepest parts of ourselves, and transform it into something relatable. Tangible. Doable.

This simple yet impactful artwork made me feel like what I do now can help create my desired future. Of course, after the zoom call I was still stuck in my room for some time due to COVID, but months later I carried on with my commitment to a California that is actively created by the community. As part of the California 100 Futures Fellows cohort, we co-published our stunning youth manifestos, we had an amazing turnout of over five hundred attendees at our Youth Futures Summit, and we delivered an incredible pile of postcards to state leaders as a way to capture and communicate the vivid dreams of California’s youth.

The next time you encounter something that sparks a certain ineffable feeling, it is probably worth exploring. And expressing! And art is one way to do so.

Open to interpretation.