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Rodia's Watts Towers

My last stop funded by the Roads Scholarship was a visit to Watts Towers. To hear about Simon Rodia and his life and practice please click here! My visit to Watts seemed like such a unique time to be visiting, as it was the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riots. It blows me away that we are still dealing with many of those same issues in present day.

I arrived at the space minutes before the final guided tour of the site. I wanted to make sure that I did a tour because large white fences have obstructed many of the views of the grounds after the space has been preserved.

The site itself is a triangle of land where Rodia once lived. Illiterate and unable to do math Rodia, with no formal art or architectural backing, set off to make something great. The sculptures on site are made up of a concrete mixture, wire (some from clothing hangers), and are mosaic with fragments of old potter, glass shards, tile, and plastic toys.

In my opinion the most remarkable feature of the site are the three large spires (just under 100 feet) that Rodia constructed without any sort of pulley system of scaffolding. Experiencing the site is wonderful as you can see the attention to detail in each work.

​Although this site is not seemingly directly relevant to my thesis work I feel as though the space enabled me to get an understanding of scale, and how the physical body activates a space. There is also the visual playground aspect that makes up the site. I found myself constantly redirecting my gaze as I pictured Rodia’s small frame scaling the towers. The sense or relational space was remarkable and the grandness of the works was incredible. If you’re ever in the area I highly suggest visiting!

Check out the Watts Towers Arts Center!

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