Meet the Chair

Susanne Cockrell, Interim Chair

Sculpture, Individualized, and Community Arts Programs (SICA)

I first started making art as a dancer and improviser in Vermont in the 1980s. I was inspired by the Judson Church Dance Theater and that moment when dancers put their shoes on to head out doors and into the streets. Tricia Brown’s roof piece, 1971 and Meredith Monk’s films and vocal works were early influences. Improvisation and compositional studies remain my most significant and valuable training as an artist, and continue to inform how I perceive and think aesthetically and perform research. 

I moved to the Bay Area and landed in the experimental theater scene, later attending graduate school at CCAC in film/video/performance and expanding my practice into sculpture and installation. As an artist and educator I believe medium and form follow ideas. I have been a professor at CCA since 2005, serving as Assistant Chair of the First Year Program 2005-2010 and Chair of the Community Arts Program 2012-2017.

For the last 15 years I collaborated with my partner Ted Purves developing social art projects under the rubric fieldfaring. Interested in the overlay of urban and rural systems upon the lives of specific communities and individuals, we developed projects through a methodology of asking questions about the nature of people and place as seen through social economy, history and local ecology. While this range of studies has made me a generalist in terms of my formal approaches, my long-term work as an artist has channeled these diverse interests into an ongoing studio, research, and public art practice that involves people, land-use, systems thinking, social and public engagement. I bring this sense of openness to guiding the sculpture, community arts and individualized (SICA) programs this Fall.

As a faculty, we are researching the interface of the sculpture, community arts and individualized programs this year, and working to understand how the programs interface and interact through curriculum, the history of art making  and contemporary interdisciplinary inquiry. Our ambition is for students to be able to combine formal skills with social and political concerns, developing aesthetic and context-driven practices. This requires a critical analysis of the complex world we live in, alongside strong art and design skills.  

I am passionate about developing curriculum and community, and providing a home base for SICA students. The expanded field of sculpture, the ethics and pedagogy embedded in community arts and the unique vision that individualized students bring to mapping their own vision of an arts education offer students a lively confluence of critical thinking, research and making skills.