Alumni News

Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 by Laura Braun

Eva O'Leary and Harry Griffin are photographers who work together. Last year they funded a project called Devil's Den using Kickstarter. For it, they photographed reenactors and spectators at the 150th-anniversary commemoration of the battle of Gettysburg. Juxtapositions within their images lay bare the differences between then and now. The project is featured in Mossless Issue 3, which is also currently on Kickstarter. We spoke with Eva and Harry about preconceptions drawn from history books, crowdfunding as a strategy for self-publishing, and the nature of collaboration.

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Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 by Simon Hodgson

Filmmaker and CCA alumnus Banker White (MFA 1999) has traveled as far as West Africa in his journey to develop communities and tell stories. But his latest work originated rather closer to home. In his documentary The Genius of Marian, due for theatrical release in April 2014, he follows his mother, Pam, as she deals with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“In 2008, seven years after my grandmother passed away after a battle with Alzheimer’s, my mom, Pam, announced that she was going to write a book about her. Marian Williams Steele was her mother and my grandmother. She was a well-known artist. I painted with her my whole childhood.

“As her only grandkid who identifies as an artist, I knew immediately that I was going to be involved. So I started going back home to Massachusetts twice a year to help my mom with the book and to archive Mana’s paintings.”

But what began as a collaborative mother-son book-writing project evolved into something very different, as Pam herself started to experience signs of dementia, and soon was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “In 2009, I stayed at my parents’ house for three months, just to figure out what was going on,” says White. “It was clear that both my parents needed help. My mom was delusional and had periods of violence. I realized I needed to move home.”

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Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 by Laura Braun

Oxford received a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters of Fine Arts in painting/drawing with a concentration in video art from the California College of the Arts. Starting in March, she will write a biweekly blog series focused on connections between the museum collections and the local community.

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Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 by Laura Braun

Make your way to SooLOCAL this Saturday for a dual exhibit from partners in crime/art Crystal Quinn and Oakley Tapola. In Somethin’s Rippin, the two present a clever collection of works that are, as they describe, “A snapshot of the comic dysfunctionality of the parts of life that we depend on, work around, or attempt to fix: may we try half-assed or diligently, it is generally to no avail” which is definitely a concept we can understand. While the duo may have a playful, witty streak, their work is far from a joke: both Quinn and Tapola are quite serious when it comes to art.

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Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 by Laura Braun

The phrase “wearable art” comes to mind when looking at HighLow Jewelry‘s collection, and that’s because it is actually inspired by art. Designer Sonya Gallardo studied painting & drawing at California College of the Arts San Francisco before launching her line. Now based in Los Angeles, HighLow Jewelry draws influence from both ancient and modern art, infusing the collection with nods to folk art, art history and contemporary art. 

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Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2014 by Laura Braun

Designers often cite collaboration as one of their keys to keeping creative. That’s true, even for Heidi Meredith and Renée Walker, who live on opposite sides of the country. The pair originally met at California College of the Arts and they formed the design shop GOLD right after graduation in the summer of 2011. In its short existence, GOLD has created a number of smart and striking works, including designing the vintage-inspired book cover for At Home on the Range, a cookbook by the great-grandmother of Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Love, Pray fame).

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Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 by Rachel Walther

Meet ChuCha Santamaria: dancing siren, disco singer, and larger-than-life alter ego of CCA alumna Sofía Córdova (MFA 2010). Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Córdova has developed an artistic practice spanning sculpture and photography, installation, and video, but it is her music and performances as ChuCha Santamaria that have attracted the most attention.

In 2011, she and her husband, the musician and artist Matthew Kirkland, released their debut album ChuCha Santamaria Y Usted. (It was the central piece in an installation/performance cycle.) Reviewers were dazzled. “Fantastic, vital . . . imminently catchy,” wrote East Bay Express critic Ellen Cushing. “Singer/wordsmith Sofía Córdova sings in inglés, español, y Vocoder, carefully unfolding her melodies with stately restraint,” enthused PopMatters reviewer Josh Langhoff.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 by Laura Braun

Recognized as Pittsburgh Center for Arts' "Artist of the Year" in 1985, Qualters moved to California in 1956 on the G.I. Bill, enrolling in the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, where his mentors included renowned painters Nathan Oliveira and Richard Diebenkorn—founding members of the Bay Area Figurative Movement. In 1957, Diebenkorn invited Qualters to be in the inaugural Bay Area Figurative show.

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Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by Lindsey Westbrook

Celluloid Salutations
BlazeVOX, 2014
Paperback, 142 pages, $16

Celluloid Salutations is the second book by alumna Elizabeth Block (MFA Writing 2002, MFA 2003).

Juliana Spahr says: “It’s all here: love, work, child. And the writing. Mainly the writing. It takes over all these other things and yet it is built out of all these things. This is how Elizabeth Block erases Elizabeth Block, as one poem claims. She does this automatically, animalistically, while wailing forward, gracefully and with improvisation.

Bill Berkson says: “Elizabeth Block’s poetry moves through those ‘layers of noise’ we all contend with and goes a long way toward conquering by absorbing them. Page by page, the intervals, apparent blanks and interruptions between word clusters, vibrate tellingly with each tabulation of event, the actuality in and of the words as Block arranges them. Here is urgency and nuance. The matter never gets figured out we want it to we think all day long on. Take time to read this magnetic book.

The cover artwork is by noted CCA alumna Amanda Hughen (Graphic Design 1999).

Block won the Christopher Isherwood Foundation Fiction Fellowship for her first novel, A Gesture Through Time, which was fiscally sponsored by Intersection for the Arts. She was a Poets & Writers grantee for the presentation of new work at the Lab in San Francisco.

Block has won many other awards and residencies, including an award from Poets & Writers and another from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program Tread of Angels Fellowship. Her writing has appeared on stage, in film, in public art, in books, on audio CD and podcasts.

She is also a filmmaker whose film poems have traveled extensively throughout the United States and elsewhere. She has published work in many genres and in many journals, and her work has also appeared on the public radio stations KQED and KSFR. She often collaborates with musicians and visual artists.

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Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by Lindsey Westbrook

Horizontal Book 2013: The Neverwere Exhibits and Other Work
Blurb, 2013
Paperback/hardcover, 70 pages, $30.99/$41.99

This book by alumnus Kip Bryant (MFA 1976) contains various art projects completed in 2013, including Floating Leaf, Moonlight, and The Neverwere Exhibits.

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