CCA News

Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2008 by Jim Norrena

Hard work and artistic vision paid off for Andy Nicholson (MFA Writing 2008) who was awarded the 2008 Schaeffer Fellowship in poetry

Congratulations to Andy Nicholson, 2006 graduate of CCA's MFA Program in Writing, who is a recipient of the Schaeffer Fellowship in poetry. This fall he began the PhD in English program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

UNLV's PhD in English with a creative dissertation focuses on English and American literature with the goal of preparing students to pursue writing careers—be they instructional at the college or university level or based in editing or publishing. The Atlantic heralded the program as among the top five in the nation.

Posted on Sunday, October 19, 2008 by Jim Norrena

MacArthur Grant Recipient

Walter Kitundu was notified on the way to class early this semester that he had been selected for a MacArthur Grant. This grant awards individuals $500,000 with no strings attached and is based on their unique artistic, cultural, and scientific pursuits. CCA, and in particular the Furniture Program, is incredibly honored and lucky to have Walter in our department.

About Walter Kitundu

Posted on Thursday, October 16, 2008 by Brenda Tucker

Jeesun (Arys) Hur (Interior Architecture 1997)

Seoul has become something of a home away from home for numerous CCAers. In cyberspace and, occasionally, on terra firma, about 150 Korean alumni, students, and prospective students meet, mingle, and network in what has become the CCA Korean Alumni Group.

While giving members the opportunity to reminisce about the thrill of artistic victory and the agony of critique, the club also introduces the school to newly accepted students, offering them a way to meet classmates before they hit the California coast. "Our members also make professional connections," says Sooah Choi (Fashion Design 1998), current club president. "Alumni sometimes refer projects to others working in the same career, and they post information about internships." The group meets about five times a year in Seoul, and a couple of times in Oakland.

Last year, in honor of CCA's centennial, the club hosted a special evening event for Korean alumni. Graduates, prospective students, parents of students, and Korean faculty from the likes of Seoul National University and Samsung Art and Design Institute attended the gala along with Stephen Beal, then CCA's provost (now president), and Michele Rabin, director of international student affairs. That memorable evening, held at Minjoo Kang's (Ceramics 2002) wine and coffee house, included speeches and discussions about promoting the school in Korea. "We were proud and excited that CCA created such a beautifully organized event all the way over in our part of the world," Choi says.

The Korean Alumni Group emerged out of informal gatherings organized by a dozen or so Korean students who graduated in the early 1990s. In 2000, Heewon Chang (Graphic Design 2001) opened an online community for the group. As the gathering grew, Junho Kim (Graphic Design 1991) was elected its first president, followed by Younmo Kim (Illustration 1990), and, most recently, Choi. As of fall 2008 CCA has 29 Korean students, who comprise more than a quarter of the college's international student population.

"What I like most about participating in the group is seeing everyone doing so well at their work," says member Sunghwan Moon (Film/Video 2003). "Just as fellow students were always my greatest teachers, keeping me alert and awake at school, they continue to inspire me to work harder." Moon is now an editor at the Korean animation studio DigiArt; his latest project is Garfield: Pet Force.

Jeesun (Arys) Hur (Interior Architecture 1997) was working for an interior design firm in Tokyo and had already demonstrated a clear passion for the field before she managed to convince her parents that CCA would be a good move. They reluctantly gave her permission to go to school so far from home. Now she's the CEO of her own firm, ArysArchiDesign, based in Seoul with clients as far-flung as Japan and Africa. "The group allows me to meet those I didn't know while I was in school, and reconnect with others I rarely get to see now," she says. "Whenever CCA alumni happen to pass through Seoul, we gather to eat, drink, and enjoy a nightlong chat. Staying connected allows us to talk about what we're doing in art and art-related fields, and helps keep us excited and focused."

A few months ago, Yunjung Kil (Interior Architecture 1997) participated in CCA's orientation for new Korean students in Seoul under the auspices of the group. "I had the chance to tell students about my career and work, which was fun for me and, I hope, meaningful for them," says Kil, whose interior design firm, GIL Design Inc., is branching out into the area of environmental design.

Meanwhile, in and around freelancing as a fashion designer (she has designed uniforms for past Korean Olympic competitors, among other high-profile projects), lecturing at universities, and earning nothing less than a PhD in clothing and textiles, president Sooah Choi has big hopes for the future. "I want us to hold alumni group exhibitions with various media and majors represented," she says. She invites anyone interested in finding out more about the Korean Alumni Group to visit, where an account can also be opened in English.

Posted on Monday, October 6, 2008 by Brenda Tucker

Linda Geary (middle), Painting/Drawing faculty, works with students during critique

As part of CCA's Painting/Drawing studio course, faculty member Linda Geary traveled with students to New York for three weeks during June/July. The goal? To take advantage of the New York Studio Program, which moved to DUMBO (a real-estate term that denotes Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).

Students not only toured the city's seemingly endless art collections but also visited with established resident artists, often in the artists' glamorous studios.

The designated 10-block DUMBO district is flanked by the Fulton Ferry and Vinegar Hill neighborhoods and lends dramatic views of Manhattan. The locale is populated with artist-focused real estate projects such as arts organizations and studios. It is an area steeped in creative and artistic expression, and its influx of world-class visual and performing artists offers a particular vitality that has made it the fastest-growing neighborhood in New York.

During the three-week residency, each student was provided with a spacious and beautiful studio in which to work independently. The focus of the class was not only to engage with the work of established artists but also to develop a body of work. Such studio visits generated excitement among the students, as evidenced by their often late-night hours. Weekly group critiques also contributed to their momentum to create new work.

While students were reaping the rewards of this artists' haven, Olafur Eliasson created and installed his New York City Waterfalls, which made their proximity to the Brooklyn Bridge that much more exciting.

Outside of class or critique, Painting/Drawing faculty member and artist Linda Geary led her students around Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island to showcase work and pick the brains of practicing local artists. Through personal exchanges students learned about how their practices have changed over time as well as how living and working in the internationally acclaimed New York art world informs their practice.

Students also took advantage of New York's tremendous cultural offerings, from museums and galleries (such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Morgan Library and Museum, and the Frick ) to actual studio visits with such acclaimed artists as Polly Apfelbaum, CCA alum Jules De Balincourt, Rachel Hayes, Jim Hodges, Raj Kahlon, Jonathan Lasker, Elisa Lendvay, Mary Meyer, Stephen Mueller, Eric Sall, James Siena, and Laurel Voss.

For information regarding Linda Geary's summer 2009 New York studio course, please contact the Office of Special Programs at 510.594.3773.

About Linda Geary
Geary has exhibited recently at Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, Oregon; HP Garcia Gallery, New York; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco (reviewed in ArtForum, February 2007). She also was a resident at Art Omi, New York, in 2007. Geary is the recipient of an Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts grant and the Pollock-Krasner Award.

Read Linda Geary's complete bio.
Learn more about CCA's Painting/Drawing Program.

Posted on Friday, October 3, 2008 by Jim Norrena

Director Wayne Wang filming A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)

(Yiyun Li will speak at CCA as part of the MFA Writers' Series on November 21 at 3:30 p.m. in the Writers' Studio.)

In a recent interview with CCA alum and celebrated writer/director/producer Wayne Wang (The Center of the World, The Joy Luck Club, Smoke), who has been making films for the past 30 years (starting when still a student at CCA) and who has remarkable influence on aspiring Asian filmmakers, he discussed his recent departure from Hollywood big films to focus more on smaller, independent films:

"I got on this treadmill of studio movies and I had fun, made a lot of good money, but I was having a hard time getting off of it so I sort of consciously just got off and said, 'How can I go back to some of my own films, independent films dealing with the Chinese in America again?' I found first of all one of the big changes with the Chinese community here is that there are a lot more new immigrants from China, and second, I found Yiyun Li's book, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. There were two stories that I really liked in there, so I ended up . . . making two films." (Read the full interview with Wayne Wang.)

Two stories indeed. "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" and "The Princess of Nebraska" are each featured in Li's award-winning collection of short stories, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, which impressed Wang.

Oakland-based Yiyun Li's debut collection of short stories won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction. She was recently selected by Granta as one of the Best Young American Novelists.

Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996. Her stories and essays have been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, Glimmer Train, Prospect, and elsewhere. She has received grants and awards from Lannan Foundation and Whiting Foundation.

So it's not so surprising that a director as talented as Wang would recognize talent in a writer like Li.

Li was able to work extensively on the screenplay for Thousand Prayers (Magnolia Pictures); however, she was knee-deep working on her first full-length novel, and thus less involved in the film production of "The Princess of Alaska," which Wang codirected with Richard Wong under the same title.

The films had a back-to-back screening (as a single feature) at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival. Then Thousand Prayers opened the 2008 International Asian Film Festival. But it was only recently that Thousand Prayers had its theatrical release opening at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York September 19. (Interestingly, in France the two films were released simultaneously with theater venues offering viewers a choice of either or both.)

However, nowadays when a film releases is less intriguing as how it releases: on October 17 YouTube's Screening Room will air the U.S. premiere of The Princess of Nebraska, also from Magnolia Pictures. (Watch the exclusive YouTube Princess of Nebraska trailer.)

Much like the subject matter of either short story, Wang hopes the innovative release strategy will serve multiple audiences, thus uniting different generations and cultures—be it symbolically or otherwise.

"A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is classical and is being distributed classically," Wong says. "It's about an older generation. The Princess of Nebraska is about a new generation. It's shot in a very contemporary way. It was very guerrilla style, and we used a lot of cell phone stuff, and it made sense for [the film] to go to the Internet." (Listen to the complete NPR interview. Approximately five minutes.)

Posted on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 by Sarah Owens

Chaliff Dance (read my letter and dance my words) in collaboration with Farley Gwazda, digital video, 2007

Recent alumna Dina Danish (MFA 2008) is one of 12 international artists selected for an artist residency at the prestigious Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (Royal Academy of Visual Arts) in Amsterdam, an internationally renowned two-year residency for visual artists.

Danish's application process required several selection rounds, including on-site interviews with committee members. The interview process reduced the applicant pool from 1,500 applicants to 38, and then again down to the final 12 international and 12 Dutch recipients.

The candidates were evaluated based on the quality of their work and their potential to develop and grow. At 26, Danish is three years younger than the average awardee.

As a resident artist, Danish will receive a budget to work in her own studio for a one-year period from January through December. During that time she will participate in workshops and work among other international artists who are pursuing painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, video, film, sound, and computer art.

Danish is thrilled to have the opportunity to study and practice in an international setting, and to collaborate with the other artists and advisors.

Danish also holds a BA from the American University of Cairo.

View Danish's work online.

Visit the Rijksakademie website for additional information.

Posted on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 by Brenda Tucker

CCA's undergraduate and graduate Chair and Director of Architecture Ila Berman sits with world-reknowned architect Renzo Piano

On September 26, 2008, architecture students from UC Berkeley and California College of the Arts attended a special lecture that featured internationally lauded architect Renzo Piano, the Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate and 2008 American Institute of Architecture (AIA) Gold Medal recipient who has been heralded by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people.

In 1971 Piano joined with Sir Richard Rogers to form the Piano and Rogers Agency. The agency went on to collaborate on Paris's Centre Pompidou project, which brought the two designers international acclaim.

Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 by Chris Bliss

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today that Walter Kitundu, faculty member at California College of the Arts, has been named one of its 25 fellows for 2008. MacArthur Fellowship awardees each receive $500,000 in unrestricted, "no strings attached" support over five years. The recipients work across a broad spectrum of endeavors, including science, medicine, the humanities, and the visual and performing arts.

Posted on Monday, September 22, 2008 by Kim Lessard

Amanda Lee, Untitled, 2005

This past spring, the Graduate Program in Design at CCA became the first American academic program to join the Designers Accord. Endorsed by both the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), the Designers Accord is a coalition of 100,000 designers, educators, researchers, engineers, business consultants, and corporations who are working toward innovative and sustainable changes in design, industry, and consumer behavior.

Founded by CCA faculty member Valerie Casey, the Designers Accord is regarded in the international design community as a kind of Kyoto Protocol for designers.

Casey is also a lead designer at IDEO, where she creates socially and environmentally sustainable products, services, and business models for companies around the world. She founded the Designers Accord in January 2008, recognizing the need for a more organized effort by designers worldwide to make positive changes with respect to the environmental and social impact of design and industry.

"By adopting the Designers Accord, the Graduate Program in Design affirms its commitment to sustainability and to the sharing of knowledge and expertise with a global community of committed members representing each design discipline," says Brenda Laurel, chair of CCA's Graduate Program in Design.

Read more about the Designers Accord at
Read more about CCA's Graduate Program in Design at

About California College of the Arts

Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is noted for the interdisciplinarity and breadth of its programs. It offers studies in 20 undergraduate and seven graduate majors in the areas of fine arts, architecture, design, and writing. The college offers bachelor of architecture, bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, master of architecture, master of arts, master of fine arts, and master of business administration degrees.

With campuses in Oakland and San Francisco, CCA currently enrolls more than 1,650 full-time students. Noted alumni include the painters Nathan Oliveira and Raymond Saunders; the ceramicists Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, and Peter Voulkos; the filmmaker Wayne Wang; the conceptual artists David Ireland and Dennis Oppenheim; and the designers Lucille Tenazas and Michael Vanderbyl. For more information about CCA, visit

Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 by Jim Norrena

Eleven Eleven, volume 5, is CCA's annual journal of literature and art

On September 15, 2008, the fifth volume of Eleven Eleven, the annual journal of literature and art at California College of the Arts, became available to booksellers through Small Press Distribution.

The journal also can be ordered directly by emailing