Alumni News

Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 by Jim Norrena

(From Ken Miller's "Alexandra Grant and Keanu Reeves Collaborate, Happily" interview published in the March 2, 2011, edition of Art in America):

Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Technically it's not a dump, it's a transfer station: the 44-acre Recology site where most of San Francisco's garbage and recyclables pass through on their way to either a landfill or a recycling plant. To those who work there, know it, and love it, it's the dump. And for many local artists, including an impressive array of CCA alumni and faculty, it has been the site of a four-month-long scavenger hunt. Recology hosts a one-of-a-kind, intensely competitive residency program where for four months, 40 hours a week, a few lucky artists find inspiration, a literally endless stream of raw materials, a wide array of tools, and 2,000 square feet of studio space, leading up to a culminating exhibition event. The program just celebrated its 20th year. Not all of the artists make work that is specifically about reuse, but no one leaves without having been profoundly affected by the experience, without thinking about life and culture (and trash) in entirely new ways.

On May 20-21 Recology will host the final exhibition of current residents Alex Nichols (soon-to-be alumna from CCA's MFA Program in Writing), Scott Kildall, and Niki Ulehla. That such an obviously object-oriented residency welcomed Nichols, a writer, is an indication of how it continues to evolve and push the envelope of what "art" and "scavenging" mean. Some of the best-known works to come out of the residency have included Nathaniel Stookey's Junkestra (2007), which subsequently performed to a sold-out audience at Herbst Theater in San Francisco and released a recording, and the Styrofoam Hummer made by Andrew Junge (MFA 2002), which has gone on to tour numerous exhibition venues all over the country and has achieved legendary, mythical status among the dump workers.

Posted on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Jay Nelson, "The Golden Gate" (Electric Camper Car), 2009 (photo by Jack Halloway)

On Tuesday, April 19, a Google Street View car was spotted in the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. If the crew was lucky, it might have glimpsed San Francisco's most unique vehicle, an old, white hatchback that looks like a snail.

The Honda CRX with the distinctive wooden shell on the back belongs to Jay Nelson (Painting/Drawing 2004), artist and surfer. "I got the car for 200 bucks," he says. "I wanted to create a multifunctional work vehicle/camper. It became a kind of accidental artwork. Vehicles have no boundaries, so they can reach out and create an audience instead of needing the audience to come to them. When you build a house on the back of a car, everyone has an opinion about it, and it becomes a starting point for conversation." The vehicle (along with its owner) was featured on the cover of ReadyMade magazine earlier this year.

Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Directed and edited by Yoni Klein (Photography) and Alka Joshi (MFA Writing 2011)

Blink, a short documentary directed and edited by the talented interdisciplinary team of Photography undergraduate Yoni Klein and Alka Joshi, a soon-to-be MFA Program in Writing graduate, has been programmed into the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, the longest-running, largest, and most widely recognized LGBT film exhibition event in the world.

Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Happy Earth Day, CCA!

California College of the Arts is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to The Princeton Review, an education service that helps students select and apply to colleges.

CCA's inclusion in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition reinforces the college's reputation as an exemplary institution of higher education committed to sustainability.

The news, which USA Today reported Wednesday, April 20, arrives just in time for today's Earth Day celebration—and brings to a close CCA's Earth Week festivities with a remarkable bang!

The Guide to 311 Green Colleges, the first and only free comprehensive college guidebook to focus solely on high-ranking U.S. colleges and universities, showcases outstanding commitments to environmental sustainability in and out of the classroom (e.g., environmentally related practices, policies, and academic offerings). The 220-page guide contains profiles of 308 institutions of higher education in the United States and three in Canada, all of which demonstrate a significant commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation.

Posted on Monday, April 18, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Xiaoyu Weng (MA Curatorial Practice 2009)View slideshow 

From Shanghai to San Francisco: Xiaoyu Weng (MA Curatorial Practice 2009) came a long way from home to attend CCA, but her career path since graduation has ensured that home is never far from her mind. In fact, she has made a specialty of devising ways in which Asian culture and Western culture can be represented and intertwined.

Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Jill Bliss and LucyView slideshow 

Jill Bliss's latest Chronicle Books publication, Drawing Nature: A Journal, unites three of her passions: design, teaching, and nature. Bliss, who received her MFA in 2004 from CCA's Graduate Program in Design, has now been collaborating with the San Francisco-based publisher for seven years. "This new journal is based on classes I've been teaching in local parks here in Portland, Oregon.

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2011 by Samantha Braman

Growing up on a wildlife preserve in California surrounded by farms, homesteaders, nature writers, and the Tahoe National Forest, Maria Ryan (Sculpture 2005) spent most of her time outdoors. When she got to CCA and heard about the availability of Center Student Grants, an idea germinated, and the outcome proved life-changing. She used the grant money to spend the following summer studying plants in the Sierra Nevada and teaching a complementary course, titled "Quilting Indigenous Plant Life of the Sierra Foothills." The project combined her love for nature, handwork, and textiles, and in the end led to the production of a public artwork.

"I used an abandoned building as a community center where I held classes for local children. I hired two guest teachers: one a Maidu woman, who taught the ecological and botanical value of each indigenous plant, and the other Louis Bluecloud, a skilled Mohawk artist who gave lessons in graphic pattern design by stenciling.

"Writing the proposal and seeing this project to completion, I recognized the strength that any project acquires through collaboration. I gained priceless experience, working to engage various factions of the community and utilizing local institutions as assets in the creative process."

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Piero Passacantando at work in his studio with Dawa Tamang in Kathmandu (photo by Clarissa Bynum)

Now back at home in New York after a 10-month Fulbright residency in Kathmandu, CCA alumnus Piero Passacantando (MFA Social Practice 2009) is already planning his return to Nepal. During his time there, the Italian-American artist studied Thangka, a centuries-old traditional Himalayan art form that uses specific geometric guidelines in its compositions.

"My hope is that I can somehow continue my project. I originally went there to learn the technical and iconographic aspects of Thangka, but I became interested in the geometry and social production, the workshop system. The guys I worked with, Dawa and Sherab Tamang, were only 19 and 20 years old, and their level of skill was just astonishing." Passacantando was impressed by Kathmandu's artistic community, which was very different from that of San Francisco or New York. "The Thangka artists see it as labor, a job. They don't have the same underlying conceptual framework or discourse. The organization I worked with, Dharmadhatu Foundation, is a social enterprise that produces Thangkas to raise money for scholarships for rural children."

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 by Chris Bliss

Renowned San Francisco retailer Gump’s will celebrate its 150th anniversary by opening its doors March 31 for Mirror Mirror, a gala celebration to benefit California College of the Arts (CCA). The festive event features a dinner party and an auction of one-of-a-kind mirrors created by 30 leading artists, architects, and designers, including designer Yves Béhar, architect Mark Jensen, artist Raymond Saunders, and interior designer Kelly Wearstler (see complete list below).

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