Organization/Business: KAOS Network
Website: KAOS Network
Nominator: Charmaine Jefferson
“Since 1984, Ben Caldwell has provided consistent creativity, training and community leadership in photography, media arts and technology for youth, families and aspiring artists in Leimert Park. Now, even during a pandemic, he continues to reinvent and advocate for approaches that not only capture and document the equity issues of this moment but to consider how economic collaborations between the Leimert Park neighbors and business communities can build opportunities for growth and sustainable security.”
— Charmaine Jefferson, Nominator
About Ben Caldwell
Considered one of the region’s cultural leaders, Ben Caldwell is an artist, director, educator, independent filmmaker and mentor, offering professional advice and support through his KAOS Network media lab and open mic hip-hop workshops. Caldwell grew up assisting his grandfather, who projected movies at a small theater in New Mexico and developed a passion for the visual arts. After studying film at UCLA, he spent the early 1980s teaching film and video at Howard University in Washington, D.C. before returning in 1984 to Southern California’s historic Leimert Park neighborhood to create an independent studio for video production and experimentation. In what eventually became known as the KAOS Network, it remains the only organization of its kind in South Central Los Angeles that offers courses in video production, animation, web development, and even video teleconferencing and the Internet. Caldwell served as a full-time faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) for 15 years and became a major force at the award-winning CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP), a co-curricular program of CalArts, which offers free after-school and school-based arts programs for youth ages 4-18 in every discipline taught at the Institute. Always an inspiration, Caldwell created the now highly regarded Leimert Art Walk and has been connecting youth to art through technology for decades. Having survived past economic recessions and neighborhood gentrification, Caldwell continues to provide support for his community in the present moment and advocating for the arts in the future.
More on Ben Caldwell
- Watch the trailer for “Sankofa City” below, a community design project envisioning concepts and prototypes for the future of urban technology, based in Leimert Park. This ptoject was a collaboration between Ben Caldwell's Kaos Network and the USC division of Media Arts Practice and the Annenberg Innovation Lab.
- You can also check out more about the project on the Sankofa City Facebook page.
- “Sankofa City” Main Characters and Cast: Denise Yolén as Nina Neau, Olivia “Just Liv” Walker as Xango, Sydatris Thompson as Alma “Machina” Kalifa and Rashan Cummings as Joshua Kalifa. Watch the full film below.
- Watch KCET's “Artbound” video segment titled “Ben Caldwell: My SoCal Art History” on the KCET website.
- Watch Ben Caldwell discuss the pandemic's effects on the arts on the KCET show “Southland Sessions” in this video segment titled “‘Artists Have Been Totally Abandoned’” on the KCET website.