Meet the Chair

Terri Friedman, Interim Chair of Sculpture

After my sophomore year in college, I took a one-year leave of absence to work for the Earthworks artist Charles Simonds. I laid bricks with tweezers the size of my fingernail on a large clay mountain seven days a week for six months. We reassembled the piece in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum for his retrospective. What did I learn? Having a retrospective at the Guggenheim at age 40 takes dedication, sacrifice, and an insane amount of work. It takes grit and tenacity. I also learned that a mentor or pedagogue can have an immense impact on a student. It was this life-changing experience that inspired me to be an artist and teacher.

After graduating from Brown University with a major in fine arts and minors in both women’s and religious studies, I traveled to India and Nepal to study Tibetan Thangka painting, then to Bali to observe cremation ceremonies, and then to southern France to study with the Buddhist teacher and activist Thich Nhat Hahn. I later moved to Los Angeles to complete my MFA at Claremont Graduate School. My art and teaching careers began in the Los Angeles area before I relocated to the East Bay to teach at CCA, where I continue to develop my own work, exhibit nationally and internationally, and raise my two children.


My passion for teaching has always been as great as my passion for my own studio practice. I started teaching at CCA in 1998. I am an interdisciplinary artist and teacher. I have taught across disciplines and am an advocate of exploring an expanded education while gaining some mastery or focus. As the Interim Chair of Community Arts, Individualized, and Sculpture, my goal is to open up a rich and fruitful dialogue between disciplines. One thing all three majors have in common is that they are not bound by medium specificity. Unlike other art disciplines, which are often medium-specific, these three unique disciplines are inclusive of every medium, method, and modality.

The Expanded Field

Sculpture has spun off into many categories and media, including performance, installation, video, and social practice. The Individualized major is the model for interdisciplinary practice. Community Arts students explore different ways they can apply a truly cross-disciplinary creative practice to the challenges of the world at large. All three majors explore tradition—like Sculpture’s emphasis on woodworking, metal fabrication, and other shop-based practices—while exploring the Expanded Field, such as new media, community, performance, installation, new genres, site work, video, social practice, public art, new materials, 3D modeling, technology, and material culture studies, etc. What excites me about all three programs (and their inherently broad ranges) is that it has historically fallen within the Expanded Field to explore the politics of gender, race, and class. I believe this very fermentation and expansion of art education today means that interdisciplinary practices found in Sculpture, Individualized, and Community Arts are poised to do something unique, inclusive, and far-reaching. Given the political climate in our country right now, we need innovation and expansion to heal deep divides.

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