Alumni News

Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

For an artist who has made her name celebrating the everyday, the career of Kate Pocrass (MFA 2001) is anything but ordinary. Pocrass's well-considered salute to normalcy began at CCA, when she launched Mundane Journeys, a community art project based around a telephone hotline. Art fans calling the line would hear a series of instructions directing them to a specific address in the city where they might find intriguing graffiti, a charming storefront window, or an upholstered tree stump.

"The hotline started in 2001, the year I graduated from CCA. It was in reaction to a show one of my advisors, Ted Purves, did at Southern Exposure called Sites and Expeditions. I changed the telephone message every Monday, figuring at first that it would end when the gallery show ended. I ended up continuing it for eight years, from 2001 to 2009."

Mundane Journeys led directly to a residency at the Hammer Museum. Allison Agsten, who curates the Hammer's residencies, saw a Mundane Journeys poster created for the Orange County Museum of Art's 2006 California Biennial and gave Pocrass a call.

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Posted on Monday, September 12, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Photo: Bryan and Vita Hewitt Photography

“Wouldn’t it be amazing to learn the craft of writing from Kim Addonizio at a dive bar? Or from devorah major at the Church of John Coltrane? Or from Paul Hoover at the Crucible!”

These are the enthusiastic musings of Myron Michael (MFA Writing 2006), a poet, teacher, recording artist, and proprietor of the micro label Rondeau Records. “I’m envisioning an annual festival of free neighborhood writing workshops taught by performers, poets, and thespians. It would cover everything from semantic poetry to phonetic poetry—poetry and dance, poetry and photography. Slam, sonnets, spoken word, songwriting, rondeaus, rap. It’s all poetry.”

Based in Oakland, Michael is also the founder of the poetry publication project Move or Die and curator of the monthly reading series HELIOTROPE. In August he will join other ambitious emerging poets and novelists at the week-long Postgraduate Writers’ Conference at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He has already attended the annual conference twice, the first time as a student, the second as a work-study scholar. This year he returns as the resident emcee. The conference is an immersion experience, offering the chance to hone his craft not only in manuscript building, but also in organizational skills, as he pursues his goal of one day directing a writing conference or festival.

“Writing builds bridges.”

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Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Nana K. Twumasi lives in Oakland

Nana K. Twumasi (MFA Writing 2004) was born in the South and raised a bunch of other places, which left her with a Midwestern work ethic, an East Coast attitude and, now that she lives in Oakland, California, a West Coast sense of time. Her work has appeared as part of Ballyhoo Stories' 50 States Project and the International Museum of Women's Imagining Ourselves online exhibit. She is the coeditor of Monday Night, a journal of new literature.

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Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Photo credit: Rino Pizzi

About Melanie Westerberg

Melanie Westerberg (2004) is the author of City in the River, City in the Forest (Hag's Head Press, 2010). Her short stories have appeared in Mid-American Review, Third Coast, Torpedo, and the Best New American Voices 2006 anthology, and two were nominated for Pushcart Prizes.

Faculty Inspiration

Her collaboration with CCA MFA Writing faculty member Rebekah Bloyd was translated into Czech for RozRazil.

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Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Brent Foster Jones connects his writing to social and political life

About Brent Foster Jones (2008)

In 2008 Southern Exposure asked me to read new prose and poetry as part of guerrilla broadcaster Neighborhood Public Radio's upcoming programming for the Whitney Biennial. My disembodied voice, along with others, was played for digital, radio, and museum listeners.

The experience started me thinking about how to keep new literature knit into our fast-moving world. Readers might be distracted, but they still want stories, but maybe these stories are lean, urgent things, elegant and efficient.

Training in Multiple Genres

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Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Nikki Thompson lives and works in the Bay AreaView slideshow 

Nikki Thompson is a poet, book artist (aka Deconstructed Artichoke Press), and happily failed architect. She fled Southern California for UC Berkeley, where she earned a degree in architecture and edited Berkeley Fiction Review.

In 2001 she was awarded the All College Honors in Graduate Writing from CCA. She remained in the Bay Area and completed the MFA Program in Writing in 2002.

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Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Friedman resides in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and two children

Peach Friedman (2006) is the author of Diary of an Exercise Addict, a memoir recounting her rapid descent into and recovery from anorexia nervosa. The book received international acclaim from sources including the London Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, and Friedman was interviewed by Barbara Walters on The View, and on Oprah's Radio Network. People magazine gave the book three stars and named Friedman a "sexual adventuress," who inspires her readers.

Friedman resides in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and two children.

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Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 by Calvin Mays

Facebook headquarters, now in Menlo Park, was just one stop on the tour

Calvin Mays graduated from the MBA in Design Strategy program in spring 2011.

Nathan Shedroff, chair of the MBA in Design Strategy program at California College of the Arts, has a vision: to redefine the future of MBA education. In the spring 2011 semester, students in the program’s second-year cohort got the unique opportunity to take an elective that offered a look into the unpredictable and hyper-fast-paced world of entrepreneurship.

What risk-taking student wouldn’t jump at the chance to learn from two highly educated and venturesome professors (Teddy Zmrhal and Edward West): well-seasoned entrepreneurs with strong ties to, and deep roots in, the world’s hottest bed of deal-seeking venture capitalists, angels, accelerators, and incubators?

We were in for a sightseeing jaunt like no other—a VIP-guided tour into the mecca of start-up activity, the belly of the beast, Silicon Valley. We were all excited to actively participate in open and candid dialogues with some of the world’s most brilliantly innovative entrepreneurs, companies, and investors.

Being a risk-taking entrepreneur myself, I enrolled in the class in hopes of learning more than just textbook advice on the rigors of risk, or product and service differentiation. At first glance the syllabus looked a bit light: an inviting introduction, the usual grading system, a presentation assignment, and another assignment personally tailored to our venture projects from other courses.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 by Allison Byers

Walker’s winning design features bright colors and comprehensible graphics that illustrate the food’s ingredients

Visual designer and CCA alumna Renée Walker (MFA Design 2011) placed first in the Rethink the Food Label competition, an online contest issued by GOOD magazine and University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s News21 project to redesign the nutrition label found on food packaging.

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Posted on Monday, August 22, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Cory Gunter Brown and Cassidy Hope Wright founded The Moon, a self-described "slow fashion" boutique and design studio in 2007

This is the first installment in a series of artist profiles that depicts CCA's connection to the Oakland Art Murmur -- in particular to 25th Street in downtown Oakland, where in almost any given gallery, shop, or studio, artists from California College of the Arts are making their living in the arts. Collectively, they are changing the cultural landscape of Oakland, elevating its reputation as one of today’s most talked-about art scenes.

Earlier this summer, while walking along 25th Street between Broadway and Telegraph avenues in downtown Oakland, I found myself appreciating a discernible shift in the neighborhood's appearance. It used to be only abandoned warehouses and defunct automotive repair shops comprised the city blocks in this area (the result of 1989's Loma Prieta earthquake, which took its toll on an already economically depressed downtown Oakland).

Yet now, slowly, one by one, this same area seems to be the impetus for an appreciable spate of creative businesses and artist live/work spaces.

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