Lauren Halsey unveils sister dreamer, a temporary architectural installation in South Central Los Angeles

Building Autonomy

Lauren Halsey unveils sister dreamer, a temporary architectural installation in South Central Los Angeles

The space will open in South Central L.A in spring 2025. (Courtesy Lauren Halsey and Current Interests)

Lauren Halsey recently shared her vision for a new architectural installation in her hometown, South Central Los Angeles, that’s seventeen years in the making: sister dreamer, lauren halsey’s architectural ode to tha surge n splurge of south central los angeles.

sister dreamer will be located in a South Central Los Angeles vacant lot. There, Halsey will build a courtyard that serves as tribute to her personal heroes, family friends, community activists, and organizers. Renderings show a symmetrical axis lined with eight Egyptian sphinxes perched below eight Hathoric columns that lead up to a monumental chamber partially open to the sky with a square oculus.

The monument will be clad with light tan, glass fiber reinforced concrete tiles, much like her previous work, the eastside of south central los angeles hieroglyph prototype architecture (I), at the Met. Visitors can enter the stone clad volume lined with inscriptions like COMMUNITY OWNED and BUILD AUTONOMY SOLIDARITY.

Behind the stone volume will be a seating area and equipment for film screenings. Plant beds and masonry walls laced with foliage will enclose the courtyard, and two palm trees make up sister dreamer’s tallest features. A small reflecting pool partially surrounded by benches sits between the sphinxes.

aerial view of installation
Aerial view of sister dreamer (Courtesy Lauren Halsey and Current Interests)

sister dreamer combines ancient Egyptian architecture and contemporary iconography from South Central Los Angeles as a means of reclaiming lost legacies, offered Halsey—a 36-year-old artist that takes inspiration from Afrofuturism, funk, and Superstudio.

The piece recalls earlier works by the artist at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2015), the Hammer Museum in 2018, and the Met’s rooftop garden in 2023. It’s a collaboration with Current Interests, founded in 2017 by Matthew Au and Mira Henry; and Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND)—a nonprofit founded in 2009 that specializes in site-specific programming. Christine Y. Kim, LAND’s cofounder, is sister dreamer’s chief curator.

Halsey’s nonprofit Summaeverythang Community Center will organize film screenings, health and wellness events, community-centric celebrations, jazz nights, sports activations, lecture series, and youth-engagement programs at the space upon completion. The project’s goal is to inspire liberation, self-definition, community building, and economic autonomy through artmaking, paid jobs, skill-sharing, workshops and cultural programming.

entrance to installation and courtyard
Procession leading up to sister dreamer (Courtesy Lauren Halsey and Current Interests)

sister dreamer was initiated circa 2006 when Halsey was a young architecture student at El Camino Community College in Torrance, California. It was there where the artist began honing her aesthetic. Halsey said her interests include vernacular sources from South Central L.A. like flyers, murals, signs, and tags, what she calls “icons of pride, autonomy, initiative, and resilience.”

rendering of installation interior
The project meets the demand for park space in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Lauren Halsey and Current Interests)

Christine Y. Kim said that the project will meet demand in South Central L.A. for green space. Today, Los Angeles has a median of 3.3 acres of park space per 1,000 people—this makes the megacity 74th out of 100 on parks. Meanwhile, communities of color in L.A. have far less access to greenery. Thus, for Kim, sister dreamer “moves us one step closer to equity in green space for art, reflection, recreation, and gathering.”

Halsey and Kim have eyed this particular vacant lot for over two years, a parcel with personal significance: Halsey’s family has lived in South Central L.A. for several generations, and the artist lives there today. sister dreamer is made possible by a donation from the Mellon Foundation. Taslimi Construction, Green House, and Dimensional Worldwide are also collaborators.

sister dreamer will stay open from spring 2025 through fall 2026.

Looking ahead, Halsey and Summaeverythang Community Center program director Diamond Jones are working with Barbara Bestor on a permanent home for the nonprofit.