Alumni News

Posted on Monday, June 27, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs win the best documentary feature award for Inside Job (photo: Mark Ralston, Getty Images)

From the mosh pits of Olympia, Washington, to collecting an Oscar on stage at the Staples Center. From indie music scenester to hit documentary maker. (With a stop along the way in CCA's Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice.)

Audrey Marrs -- former punk rock musician, Ladyfest cofounder, and CCA alumna -- won the 2011 Academy Award for best documentary feature for producing Inside Job, the story of the 2008 financial crisis. The statuette was handed over to Marrs and her artistic partner, the director Charles Ferguson, by none other than Oprah Winfrey. Marrs and Ferguson had been nominated in 2008 for their documentary No End in Sight about the American occupation of Iraq.

(Watch their Academy Award acceptance speech on YouTube)

The two began working together in 2003. Ferguson posted a job listing on Craigslist for an "assistant to a writer/investor," and three (grueling) interviews later, Marrs got the gig.

Fast forward a bit. Marrs really likes her assistant job but wants more out of life. She applies to and enters CCA's Curatorial Practice Program, but continues working for Ferguson, and they begin making No End in Sight.

Fast forward again. Six months prior to her thesis deadline, she and Ferguson realize that she has actually been producing No End in Sight since the beginning. "We were so naive about the process of filmmaking," she says, "that we didn't realize that 'producer' was the function I'd been performing all along!" The film was received to great acclaim and led naturally to the next documentary project, Inside Job.

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Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Still from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (courtesy Tippett Studio)

As art director for the animation company Tippett Studio, CCA alumnus Nate Fredenburg (Printmaking 1993) speaks with authority when he assures all you art students out there: The time you're spending in foundation courses -- drawing, sculpting, painting, color theory -- is time well spent. "Back when I was a work-study student, one of my jobs was to call prospective students and explain to their parents the value of an arts education. At the time, I only had anecdotal evidence.

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Posted on Thursday, June 2, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Jason Hanasik (MFA Fine Arts 2009) shot, directed, and edited Gap Inc.'s official "It Gets Better" video, the first video of its kind from a major retailer, for inclusion in the national It Gets Better Project, which is committed to reducing or eliminating harassment of LGBT youth in schools.

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Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource
AlterNet, 2010
Paperback, 232 pages, $19.95

Water Matters, designed by CCA alumna Robin Terra (Graphic Design 1985) of Terra Studio, includes more than 80 photographs and 17 thoughtful essays by leading writers, artists, and activists. The book is intended to make readers fully appreciate the life-sustaining value of water and inspire them to do everything in their power to preserve and protect our threatened water resources. The essayists are Barbara Kingsolver, Bill McKibben, Maude Barlow, Tina Rosenberg, Sandra Postel, Elizabeth Royte, Cynthia Barnett, Wenonah Hauter, Jacques Leslie, Jeff Conant, Paula Garcia, Christina Roessler, Eleanor Sterling, Kelle Louaillier, William Waterway, Brock Dolman, and Erin Vintinner and Tara Lohan.

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Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories
UC Press, 2011
Hardcover, 416 pages, $45

Gertrude Stein is justly famous for her modernist writings and her patronage of vanguard painters (most notably Matisse and Picasso) before they were famous. This book illuminates the less-familiar aspects of Stein's life: the portraits for which she posed, the domestic settings she created with Alice B. Toklas, and the signature styles of dress the two women adopted. Focusing on portraits in a range of media, photo essays, press clippings, snapshots, clothing, furniture, and other visual artifacts, the authors reveal Stein's sophistication in shaping her public image and cultural legacy. The book accompanies an exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, and is coauthored by Visual and Critical Studies chair Tirza True Latimer (with Wanda Corn). It is designed by alumna Lia Tjandra (Graphic Design 1997).

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Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Cadillac Fin Suitcase
Grind Show Editions, 2011
Paperback, 296 pages, $15

Cadillac Fin Suitcase is a collection of 18 short stories—including memoir, noir, black comedy, psychedelic adventure, and more—based on Michael Walsh's (BFA 1995) years spent living in Taiwan. Arriving in Taipei in 1998 with a Fulbright Scholarship in photography, Walsh explored the island for years shooting buku film. Along the way, between puffs on Cuban cigars and slugs of whiskey, he began to write about his experiences. The characters include wolf men, bad cops, angels, hustlers, and Taoist holy men. Cool, brash private eye Big Guava Chang assists an heiress in the hard-boiled thriller "The Pigeon Racers." Vivo Lin, a vivacious Taiwanese American psychologist, has developed unconventional techniques to treat patients, and her arrogance leads to a lethal game with a con man in "Lester Moore." Mr. Leonard Thing, a lawyer, receives an odd birthday gift in the hilarious and climactic black comedy "Happy Go Drive Thru."

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Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Lifting Water
TBW Books, 2010
Limited edition, $200 (signed) / $100 (unsigned)

Dru Donovan (Photography 2004) presents an investigation of mourning in Lifting Water, part of TBW's annual subscription series (the other artists in the 2010 series are Mark Steinmetz, Elaine Stocki, and Katy Grannan). Donovan's tableaux explore the rituals of caregiving while shifting perspectives between the caregiver and the cared for. She focuses on the psychological weight of physical proximity alongside emotional isolation. Donovan was included in Wallpaper magazine's graduate directory of emerging talent to watch. Her work is included in reGeneration2: Tomorrow's Photographers Today, published by Thames & Hudson, and in the 2010 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art. She lives and works in San Francisco.

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Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

One Million
Abrams Image, 2009
Paperback, 224 pages, $15.95

Originally published in 1970, One Million was out of print for some time until its author, the highly esteemed New Yorker editor and columnist Hendrik Hertzberg, was prompted by fans to create a new edition. It is designed by the New York-based Think Studio, whose principals are CCA alumni John Clifford (Graphic Design 1997) and Herb Thornby (Graphic Design 1998). Their design was included in the prestigious AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers competition in 2010. The project was inspired by the author's journalistic impulse to try to make the newsworthy, large, and rather abstract number "one million" more concrete for people. In the book, each of the 200 pages features five thousand dots, and on each page, a few of the dots are called out from their place in numerical order with a little piece of statistical information, cumulatively bringing the concept home.

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Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 by Jim Norrena

The 2011 Annual Fashion Show has come and gone. Get all the highlights, plus an interview with Fashion Design chair Amy Williams

The Annual Fashion Show 2011 at California College of the Arts, the capstone experience for Fashion Design seniors, unfolded Friday, May 13, with all the characteristic grandstand presentation the college and its community have come to expect. And once again, with 800 persons in attendance, the shindig was completely sold out!

Watch the slideshow » (Select "show info" in the upper right-hand corner to see the name of the designer.)

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Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Amy Williams, chair of CCA's undergraduate Fashion Design Program [photo: Jim Norrena]

As part of my recent review of the 2011 Annual Fashion Show, I sat down with Fashion Design chair Amy Williams to chat about her most important event of the year. She's passionate about her work, and I had no difficulty getting her to discuss what truly matters most at the end of the, er, runway: the students and their careers.

Q: So what does it take to plan the Annual Fashion Show? And what’s next?

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