Alumni News

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California, 1964-1971
Laguna Art Museum, 2011
Paperback, 180 pages, $34.95

Grace Kook-Anderson (MA Curatorial Practice 2007), the Laguna Art Museum's curator of exhibitions, is a contributing writer to this recto-verso book published in conjunction with the Pacific Standard Time exhibition Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California, 1964-1971. This scholarly publication with primary research on UC Irvine and the development of its art department is the first to address the early years of the department. UCI was a hotbed of creativity and experimentation in the 1960s and early 1970s, with exceptional teachers such as Tony DeLap, Robert Irwin, and Vija Celmins teaching talented students such as Alexis Smith, Chris Burden, and Nancy Buchanan. The book includes an extensive timeline.

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Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Nymph Daughters
Super Labo, 2010
Paperback, 32 pages, $20

This new book by Todd Hido (MFA 1996 and Photography faculty) is a departure that brings him back to some of the narrative sequencing experiments he explored in graduate school while studying with the late Larry Sultan (Photography faculty). Hido's series started with two photos: a found studio portrait of a mother made in the 1950s, and a found archival newspaper photograph of the aftermath of an auto accident. Hido put the portrait at the front of the book and the car crash at the back and worked to narratively connect the two using his own archive of portraits, landscapes, and photographs of houses.

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Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Simon Hodgson

Todd Shalom on Niegel Smith's "Monumental Walk," New York, 2010 [photo by Kate Glicksberg]

In a New York borough, a group of walkers meanders through the city. They stop and look around. They close their eyes. They listen. They are participants on a walk with artists from Elastic City, a conceptual walk organization founded by CCA alumnus Todd Shalom (MFA Writing 2004). Lauded by the New York Times, the Economist, and even illustrated in the New Yorker (that's how you know you've really arrived!), Elastic City has organized walks from Brooklyn to Brazil.

Shalom's title at Elastic City is producer and director. He designs and leads some walks, and also commissions other artists to create walks. The walks focus less on providing factual information and more on heightening the senses, uncovering the poetry of everyday places, and creating new group rituals in dialogue with public space. Each walk is an artwork. Lucky Walk, by Shalom in collaboration with Juan Betancurth, revealed lucky and unlucky traits within New York architecture. It encouraged participants to engage in rituals to eliminate bad luck and bring forth good luck. Homesickness by the urbanist Einat Manoff examined the group's physical surroundings as a mirror into its collective homesickness, testing possible interventions in space and discussing the theoretical perspectives offered by urban theory and environmental psychology. Other 2011 walks included City Island Hop by Andrea Polli, Love Spells by Emily Tepper, and Total Detroit by Niegel Smith. In this last, participants started out walking in LaGuardia Airport in New York and then took a plane to the Motor City, where they continued the 56-hour performance.

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Posted on Thursday, February 2, 2012 by Simon Hodgson

"Zero to hero" is a cliché in sports movies, but how does a sports-obsessed graphic designer make the leap from rookie to professional? Growing up outside Detroit, Michael Sun (Graphic Design 2010) was always a fan but never thought of sports as anything more than a hobby or entertainment. Then after attending the University of Michigan and receiving a teaching degree, he came to the sinking realization that teaching might not be for him. He admits he needed some direction.

"I went to lunch with my dad one day and I was spitballing, trying to think of my next step, but I had no idea what to do. Sports was an obsession, the only thing that held my interest at the time. I didn't know what I wanted. I'd always been interested in sports logos but only doodled them on notes in high school. I didn't even know logos dealt with something called graphic design.

"Fortunately I found CCA, but it was definitely a tough transition. For a while I felt like an outsider. I'd already received a degree, I was a little older, I didn't dress the same way, and I lived far from the city in Sunnyvale. Worst of all, it was discouraging to compare my projects with students who had been designing for longer than I had, or who had a better eye for color or composition."

He realized even in these tough moments, however, that his teachers were on his side. "They knew my work was not the greatest, but they also knew so badly I wanted to succeed and how hard I was trying. My background was academic -- expecting results according to how hard you worked -- so I decided I'd get there if I tried hard enough. And the professors noticed that.

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 by Christina Linden

(photo by Ryan Stirtz, Stirtz New Media)

Jonah Ward (Glass 2006) makes his work with molten glass . . . but the glass is absent in the finished pieces. With deft movements he pours the material onto wood panels laid out horizontally on the floor, creating a crystalline tracery. "People are always asking me if Jackson Pollock is my favorite painter," he quips. There's definitely some logic to the comparison: the substrate laid flat, the artist standing above, crouching and extending his arms in sweeping motions. Ward's movements are more like those of someone spreading honey from a dipper on (giant) morning toast, though, and necessarily involve a great deal less spattering and flinging. In the end he removes the solidified glass from the wood, and the burnt patterns left behind constitute the artwork in its final form: ready like a palimpsest, with shadows that trace of the nimble choreography of the artist's actions.

"I entered CCA as a Painting/Drawing major, but switched to Glass partway through," Ward explains. Although, in a way, he has come full-circle by returning to work that is essentially a kind of drawing. Solo exhibitions at the cool new San Francisco gallery 12 Gallagher Lane and a flurry of media attention attests to the appeal of his unique approach.

Check out the 2010 feature on Jonah Ward in California Home + Design

Ward was nominated, and was a reader's choice finalist in 7x7's "The Hot 20 Under (and Over) 40" (and he mentioned CCA!)

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Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 by Allison Byers

It’s not easy to get 160 black men from 11 American cities in one room to talk about their identity.

So the four collaborators who created “Question Bridge: Black Males,” the latest multimedia exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, did the next best thing.

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Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 by Simon Hodgson

Joseph Becker in the Dieter Rams exhibition at SFMOMA [photo: Michael Armenta]

Joseph Becker (BArch 2007) comes from a creative family: In the 1980s, his parents combined their film and education backgrounds to open Southern California's first Gymboree kids' program, and his sister has her own fashion line. His North Hollywood high school actually offered classes in set design, and he further developed what he calls "a taste for space" with classes in architecture and design at UCLA and Art Center College of Design. He arrived at CCA in 2002 to formally begin his undergraduate studies with a plan to become a product designer, but he switched to architecture during his first year. He is now an assistant curator of architecture and design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

How would you sum up your CCA experience?

There was a real sense of connection to San Francisco. With the Architecture faculty made up of professors who were also designing independently, I knew I was learning from people who were actually doing things. The studio environment, with late late nights and a palpable energy buzzing around you, was catalytic. You could get everything out of it if you put in the work, and if you were motivated by your own inquisitiveness.

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Posted on Thursday, January 26, 2012 by Allison Byers

California College of the Arts (CCA) has joined the It Gets Better Project, an online video campaign aimed at eliminating suicide among LGBTQ people by providing real-world testimonials illustrating hope.

CCA is the first arts college in the US to submit an official college-wide It Gets Better video. The video features students, alumni, faculty and staff who volunteered to share their life experiences regarding coming out and living openly as a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 by Jim Norrena

"A Great Day in San Francisco" [photo: Chris Nickel]

California College of the Arts proudly announces the release of It Gets Better: CCA, the official college submission in the It Gets Better Project, a national gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth suicide-prevention campaign. CCA is among the first art colleges to create an institutional video for the internationally recognized project.

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Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 by Allison Byers

Filming Question Bridge: Black Males

On any given day we encounter dozens, even hundreds, of people who are different from us: a different race, a different gender, a different class, a different age . . . We intellectually understand that our own identity is multifaceted, yet sometimes we cannot help grouping people into stereotypes, even within what others would consider a diverse demographic.

A team of four artists—CCA Photography faculty Chris Johnson, two CCA alumni, Hank Willis Thomas (MFA and MA Visual Criticism 2004) and Bayeté Ross Smith (MFA 2004), and Kamal Sinclair—have begun a far-reaching conversation on this topic, engaging a diverse group of African American males in a question-and-answer exchange. Their innovative trans-media project is entitled Question Bridge: Black Males, and it seeks to represent and redefine black male identity in America.

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