Alumni News

Posted on Monday, July 25, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Trevor Mantkus in his studio

Of all the career paths leading to Detroit's auto industry, you might think majoring in ceramics would be an unlikely route. But Trevor Mantkus (Ceramics 2008) is not your average ceramicist.

When he's not at work at General Motors as an automotive sculptor, he spends his spare time drawing, making paintings on commission, designing tattoos, and customizing a 1978 Corvette Stingray. He also customizes superfast motorbikes -- a YouTube video shows him pulling a (don't try this at home) freeway wheelie on a retooled Suzuki streetfighter with an estimated top speed north of 180 mph. His motorcycle designs have been featured in Hot Bike and Sport Bike magazines.

Shortly after being hired at GM he rushed to sign up for classes in digital modeling. "I wanted to be a candidate to do whatever the company needed. Now I move back and forth between digital and clay. There's benefits to both media. Although, obviously, I was a ceramics major, so I like working with my hands, getting dirty, and seeing something come to life in three dimensions."

The seeds of Mantkus's success were sown at CCA. "I've always been into cars, and in the Ceramics Program, I made a motorcycle. In 2007 my professors Nathan Lynch and Arthur Gonzalez came to me with the application for a summer internship at General Motors. They saw this as a good path for me even before I realized it. I knew cars were sculpted out of clay, but I had no idea what was really involved. Thousands of art students from across the country, mostly industrial and automotive design students, applied for 18 internships, and I got in. It was an amazing opportunity to work, to learn, and also to make contacts. One of the guys I met there had an automotive design degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, another was a digital designer from Howard University. It was one of these contacts I made back in 2007 who tipped me off about GM hiring in 2010. I got this job because of that internship."

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Posted on Monday, July 18, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Team CCA's efforts will help benefit dozens of Bay Area AIDS services

Team CCA Meets Goal, Places Among Top 50 Fundraising Teams!

California College of the Arts joined AIDS Walk San Francisco 2011 held in Golden Gate Park Sunday, July 17, which marked the 25th anniversary of the event. Team CCA exceeded its $5,000 fundraising goal by almost 20 percent, contributing $5,810 to the largest AIDS fundraising event in Northern California that attracts hundreds of thousands of donors from the Bay Area and across the country.

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Posted on Monday, July 18, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Rebecca Najdowski with Tio Lino. They created Rocinha Foto Project, a photography course for community youth

Even after the end date of her nine-month Fulbright scholarship in São Paulo, Brazil, the photographer and artist Rebecca Najdowski (MFA 2010) couldn't resist staying just a little longer to make one more trip, south to the Argentinean border, to see the legendary waterfalls of Iguaçu.

Art and travel have been soldered together in her life for as long as Najdowski can remember. She grew up in Santa Fe, a city world-renowned for its art scene. "I was surrounded by this impulse for craft. My dad was a silversmith and had a studio attached to the house. His work wasn't separate from his regular daily life. My mom was a school counselor and teacher at a public elementary school. During school holidays, she'd take off to Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, with organizations like Save the Rainforest, and often brought me with her. I've definitely inherited my love for travel from her, the drive to really experience other parts of the world."

Movement infuses Najdowski's own artistic practice, from her Spectra photogram experiments with color and light to her photographs of rural Brazilian storefronts to her roaming investigations into South American shamanism. "Travel forces you to be really open to new people and experiences. During my time in Brazil I couldn't stop traveling, moving around to collect experiences and material. I went to Rio, to Brasília, to Recife for a folk carnival (a super cool experience), and took a three-day boat trip on the Amazon River between Belém and Santarém. The river is so massive, sometimes you feel you're on a lake. Near the northern Brazilian outpost of São Luís, I went to see a tidal bore known as the pororoca, from the word for 'destructive noise' in the indigenous Tupi language. It is an immense wave caused by salt water crashing over fresh water during the new and full moons. It's not exactly on the tourist map -- I had to go through hoops to get in touch with local surfers to reach it."

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Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Daniel Dallabrida's "Damage Is Done" [photo: Jim Norrena]

Remember that someday the AIDS crisis will be over. And when that day has come and gone there will be people alive who will hear that once there was a terrible disease, and that a brave group of people stood up and fought and in some cases died so others might live and be free.

~ Vito Russo (1946–1990)
(Excerpted from "Why We Fight," a speech delivered
in front of the Department of Health and Human Services
during a demonstration on Monday, October 10, 1988)

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Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Give Them the Picture
CCA, 2011
Paperback, 203 pages, $20

Give Them the Picture collects and places in dialogue 24 articles penned by critics and artists that originally appeared in La Mamelle / ART COM magazine in the 1970s and 1980s. The authors include magazine founder Carl Loeffler, Lynn Hershman, Richard Irwin, Anna Couey, Linda Montano, Douglas Davis, Eleanor Antin, and others. It is conceived as a literary extension of the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice 2011 thesis exhibition, and thus also features conversations between the student curators and two of La Mamelle / ART COM's key figures, Nancy Frank and Darlene Tong. The book is a copublication between the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts and the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice.

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Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

History's Shadow
Nazraeli Press, 2011
Hardcover, 72 pages, $75

David Maisel’s (MFA 2006) work has always been concerned with processes of memory, excavation, and transformation. In the History’s Shadow series, Maisel re-photographs, then scans and digitally manipulates, X-rays from museum archives that depict artifacts from antiquity. X-rays have historically been used by art conservators for structural examination of art and artifacts much as physicians examine bones and internal organs; they reveal losses, replacements, construction methods, and internal trauma invisible to the naked eye. Maisel's mages seem like transmissions from the distant past, both spanning and collapsing time. The book, designed by Graphic Design faculty member Bob Aufuldish, contains an original short story by Jonathan Lethem that was inspired by Maisel's images. It was named one of American Photo magazine's Best Photography Books of the Year!

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Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Dubrovnik under Siege: Artists' Interactions with the Old City during the Yugoslav Army Aggression 1991-1992
LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2010
Paperback, 76 pages, $68

Following attacks by the Yugoslav Army in 1991, local artists used the Old City of Dubrovnik -- its ruins, boarded-up monuments, and shop windows -- to create site-specific public artworks. Nensi Brailo (Visual and Critical Studies alumna) looks at three case studies to explore this phenomenon: the site-specific exhibitions of artist Ivo Grbic on the grounds of his home and studio which had been bombed, the impromptu collaborative public art project by professional and amateur artists that took place during Christmastime in December 1991, and Pavo Urban's photographs of the besieged city's architecture and citizens.

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Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Peril as Architectural Enrichment
Kelsey Street Press, 2011
Paperback, 96 pages, $16.95

Hazel White (Writing alumna) tests landscape as the subject of experience in Peril as Architectural Enrichment. She questions how limbs want to move in space, when convivial with landforms, treetops, views, and pollen. The poems greet danger -- chopped narratives, lost crops, a fall, inundation -- and the refuge of a familiar curvature: the turning of long lines becoming the same as building shelter in the wild where a peril can be seen and felt, and to write is to know what's near. Like a designed landscape, White's poetry delivers a new sense of orientation.

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Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme
Sterling, 2009
Hardcover, 50 pages, $17.95

Adam McCauley (Illustration faculty) designed this book to look like a treasured scrapbook, every page features an eye-catching mix of drawings, photos, and handwritten text. It is a collection of letters, notes, and interviews: the fruits of a monsterologist's research. In engaging rhyme, the monster master tells all about Count Dracula ("When you visit Transylvania, be sure to stay with me"); issues a werewolf warning; and dishes on trolls, ghosts, witches, ogres, and myriad mythological and literary creatures. Winner of the Society of Illustrators gold medal and AIGA's 50 Books/50 Covers!

Check out the book's website and video trailer

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Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Adam Green, "Boy in Bed," 2010

Adam Green's (Sculpture 2010) current summer job with AmeriCorps, teaching high-risk youth, represents for him a creative coming of age. "I guess you could have considered me a high-risk youth. I was sent to a military academy in Georgia for part of high school." In AmeriCorps' program in Providence, Rhode Island, Green is involved on the administrative side and is also teaching drawing, sculpture, and glassblowing.

The medium of glass was Green's own artistic liberation. "Working with glass takes intense focus. There's a huge learning curve, and a lot of failure. Making a perfect cup is like chasing a dragon. You have this balance between an unreachable goal and a meditative exercise. It's physically intense, and also cathartic. And when it works, it's extremely gratifying."

The quest to create order from chaos is a touchstone in Green's personal fine art practice. His Rocket Grids depict unfurling orthogonal patterns of spaceships, arrayed almost like windows in a skyscraper. Why rockets? "I've always built rockets: from latex, milk, rubber, or wax. As a kid, I was always more interested in science than art. I had a computer at a really young age and loved to take it apart and look at the circuit boards. The grid format is a natural for me in terms of classification, lists, and free association. To me, rockets represent a fantastic metaphor for manhood. NASA in particular is this gigantic phallus-obsessed institution, focused primarily on penetrating the atmosphere. All those failed test flights in the 1950s and 1960s are a huge inspiration for my work. They represented to me an erectile dysfunction in American society. My Rocket Boy costume, this ridiculous red and yellow rocket rig, uses humor to lower viewers' defenses. It's a self-portrait without being too serious."

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