Alumni News

Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Jon Sueda and Martin Venezky (photo by Nikki Ritcher)

Today, professors Martin Venezky and Jon Sueda seem like two sides of the same coin. In the Graphic Design courses they co-teach at CCA, they listen to their students before speaking, argue with each other fruitfully and comfortably, then almost always agree on what the student should do next. In addition to their academic work, each has forged a successful professional career. Venezky is one of the most influential designers of his generation. His projects include work for SFMOMA, Reebok, the Sundance Film Festival, and the two-volume, 600-page, award-winning publication for the International Center of Photography's The Mexican Suitcase, documenting recently unearthed Spanish Civil War photographs by Robert Capa and others. Sueda just finished a major international commission, designing the graphic identity for the 12th Istanbul Biennial. He is also curating an exhibition at the International Biennial of Graphic Design in the Czech Republic in 2012. While the rapport and respect between these two designers is solid and obvious today, it's not a relationship that developed overnight. This is the story of a mentorship spanning two continents, four states, and 15 years.

Back in 1996, the 25-year-old Sueda enrolled in CCA's undergraduate Graphic Design Program. A tennis-playing Hawaiian with a BFA from UC Davis and a background in painting and printmaking, he signed up for a class with Venezky. "Jon was extraordinarily shy and basically terrified," says Venezky. "He was also really, really good. He hated the critiques, but when I made suggestions, he followed through and went much further, and I was really impressed with that. His development was amazing to watch." Says Sueda, "I didn't know what graphic design was, and I wasn't sure what I was getting into. At UC Davis, we never really had critiques. So I wasn't prepared, and I found it hard. I didn't even know I needed a computer. I went through the first semester doing everything at Kinko's."

Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 by Clay Walsh

Hello Etsy

On September 18, 2011, close to 200 people convened at CCA’s San Francisco campus to say “Hello!” to Etsy, the online marketplace where independent artists, craftspersons, and vintage sellers from around the world sell their wares directly to their customers. Visitors and locals came to CCA as part of a unique satellite conference that not only featured live streaming from the two-day Hello Etsy summit in Berlin (September 17¬-18), but also afforded the CCA campus with a full day of workshops, lectures, panel discussions with key speakers, and hands-on making sessions.

View additional photos

This first-ever conference by Etsy joined business owners and leaders in the locally made / entrepreneur community alongside artists who have invented their own products and markets to discuss innovations and challenges to succeeding in the independent and handmade movements. CCA’s fine arts and Communications administration was thrilled to partner in the programming and support of this event. Attendees ranged from crafters, CCA fine arts students, local business owners, bloggers, faculty, and dozens of CCA alumni.

The Hello Etsy event kicked off a new partnership between the college and Etsy, called I Heart Art: San Francisco. Said Etsy Director of Community and Education Vanessa Bertozzi: “Over the past few years we were seeing so much activity and energy coming out of our community in the Bay Area. After visiting CCA for the Craft Forward Symposium, it was clear to me that we wanted to partner with this school -- filled with talented faculty and students, filled with history, and new ideas.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 by Allison Byers

Nomadic Rahn, 2010 (from Mirrors Series)

CCA alum Bayeté Ross Smith (MFA 2004) is a contestant on Season 2 of Bravo’s creative competition series, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. The series seeks to discover new talent and shed light on the artistic process that typically occurs behind closed doors. Bayeté is an artist, photographer, and arts educator living in New York. His work has been exhibited with the San Francisco Arts Commission, The Oakland Museum of California, MoMA P.S.1, the New Museum, the Zacheta National Gallery of Art, and the Goethe Institute.

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.

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.”

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.

« Return to Alumni Success

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.

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

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.

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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