Flying High: Santa Monica’s Colorful Skies

By Sam Skopp


Otis College of Art and Design hosted a Kite Festival adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier Saturday, April 8 for the sixth year in a row, inviting kids from a number of schools throughout the L.A. area to make and fly kites alongside kite enthusiasts from around town. Student volunteers from Otis College worked with local organizations such as the County of L.A. Public Library to lead attendees in making kites, wooden airplanes and other activities built around arts education and kite flying.


Richard Shelton, the Director of Creative Action at Otis College, explained that a large number of the event’s attendees consist of more than 1,000 children who are bussed in from underprivileged schools, most of which don’t have art teachers, meaning that this is some of these kids’ first artistic experience.

“[We] bussed in kids from as far away as Palmdale. They’re all children who are in underserved school districts,” said Shelton.

The first bus of the morning brought students from Roosevelt Elementary School in Inglewood, who were promptly given materials and instructed in kite making, as well as basic color theory, which they could apply to the design of the kites. Alongside the student instructors, a number of kite enthusiasts also spent the day flying kites on the beach.

“We end up flying in kite artists from all over the country who do kites as their artistic discipline,” said Shelton.

This year’s festival was dedicated to the memory of Tyrus Wong, an artist who worked on “Bambi” for Disney, and designed kites as part of his own artistic work. He was a frequent attendee of the annual kite festival, and passed away last year at age 106.

“This is a way for Otis to give back to the community. It’s also for Otis’ future,” said Shelton, who explained that many of the students bussed to the event may be future Otis College attendees.

For more information about Otis College and their annual Kite Festival, visit

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