CCA News

Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2009 by Lindsey Westbrook

Victoria Montgomery's earring-back necklace

"Garbage in, garbage out," or so they say. But CCA's students this past fall turned out some impressive exceptions to the rule.

San Francisco was the third city to host the Radical Jewelry Makeover, coordinated by Ethical Metalsmiths in conjunction with multiple Bay Area art schools, galleries, and metalsmithing groups.

First came a Bay Area–wide call for donations of unwanted jewelry. "We filled a table with it," says Curtis Arima, a faculty member in the Jewelry / Metal Arts Program, "not just gold and silver but lots of junk jewelry, earrings without mates, et cetera. The students had a great time picking through everything and selecting parts for their projects."

Every student currently enrolled in a Jewelry / Metal Arts course spent 10 intense days remaking the jewelry into new creations—either collaging existing elements together, or completely melting them down and re-forming them. Their finished pieces were exhibited and sold at Velvet da Vinci in San Francisco, a highly regarded jewelry and metal sculpture gallery. Donors received a discount in proportion to their contributions. Everything that hadn't been appropriated was sent on to the next stop on the project's tour.

Switching up the script

The Radical Jewelry Makeover was a great way to start the semester, as one student put it, by "switching up the script." CCA's program usually emphasizes a balance between concept and craft; weeks might be spent articulating what a new piece will communicate before any physical work begins. The Makeover's 10-day time frame demanded a dramatic shift in both aesthetics and modus operandi.

Many reported feeling a sense of collaboration with unknown jewelers of the past, and with the pieces' anonymous former owners. Sophomore Jean Saung observes, "I wanted people to recognize some of the parts taken from the old jewelry, and to appreciate the recombination of their past and history to create new meanings. I made a necklace from pieces of an old watch by prying apart the metal wrist links and re-forming them into cubes, which I slipped onto a neck wire. I wonder if people will recognize the 'beads' for what they truly are.

"Certain parts, which used to belong to completely different pieces, actually seemed like they were meant to be together. I was also surprised to find myself gravitating toward the costume jewelry and the non-precious materials. I liked the idea of making something that was not very valuable into something someone would want to keep."

Senior student Victoria Montgomery agrees, "Metalsmiths, just like any other artists, sometimes get stuck in their own ways of creating. That week was a way of breaking free from the rut. It felt like a week dedicated to play. The studio came alive with a constant buzz of artists sharing materials and ideas.

"Some of the donated items were over-the-top costume jewelry. They were visually daunting, but once I started simplifying, that's when my pieces started to take form. For example, the donation box contained endless costume earrings from the 1980s, most missing a mate. I started collecting all the clip-on mechanisms and studs and treated them as links in a large chain. I liked the surprise of something so forgettable as the back of an earring suddenly taking the stage."

Mining the drawers

Ethical Metalsmiths views this project as a way to get young jewelers thinking early about their materials—first and foremost mined metals such as gold and silver, but also the stuff at the back of people's drawers that would otherwise become landfill. The organization is working on several aspects of mining reform, including the establishment of standards for certified recycled metal, which can be advertised to consumers who want to buy responsibly.

A trip to Malakoff Diggins up in California's gold county is a reminder of how destructive mining is. According to Ethical Metalsmiths, to mine the gold for one new ring creates a staggering 20 tons of waste rock. Mining is a core industry in many countries, and the arsenic, lead, and other chemicals required to process ore cause serious health problems and pollute the land and the water supply. Not to mention the terrible child labor practices and other human rights violations that often plague mining economies. In the United States, hard-rock mining produces more toxic waste than any other industry, and 80 percent of all mined gold is used to produce jewelry.

Senior student Russell Larman found great inspiration not only in the project, but also in the organization behind it. "It's important to remember that the history of our new pieces did not begin with the people who made the donations," he says. "They were only temporary custodians in a larger life cycle. Objects have an inherent history that often becomes separated from them when they are packaged as consumer products. As consumers of gold, silver, platinum, and gemstones, we have a responsibility to make sure we're not supporting unethical labor conditions in the communities that make these materials available to us."

Sustainability in metalsmithing

Surprisingly, even though gold and silver seem expensive, many jewelers do not recycle their metals. The Radical Jewelry Makeover was an occasion for an open dialogue about issues of sourcing, and for Arima to give demonstrations to the students showing how easy it is to melt down gold and silver and reuse them.

MFA student Anna Adair remarks, "The project's focus on sustainability and our ethics as practicing jewelers was, for me, the most important component. It's not something we can afford to ignore, on either a commercial or a conceptual level. A couple of years ago I wasn't thinking about my studio practice in these terms, aside from basic recycling and proper disposal of chemicals. Scrutinizing my studio habits was an eye-opener."

Saung echoes, "I had thought about sustainability and reuse for some of my smaller crafts and hobbies, but I never really had the motivation or courage to incorporate the concept into my studio work. My jewelry metal was always just processed metal I could easily buy. Now I am changing that, and I think it was my experience with this project that gave me the courage."

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 by Sarah Owens

Guillermo Galindo, associate professor in Diversity Studies and Graduate Program in Design

Associate professor Guillermo Galindo (Diversity Studies and Graduate Program in Design) was awarded the ASCAPlus Award (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) late in 2008, part of the approximately $2.7 million in cash awards dispensed by the Society's ASCAPlus Awards Panels.

ASCAP is a 330,000+ membership association of U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers. The ASCAPlus Awards Panels are composed of impartial music experts.

The reputable award is bestowed upon ASCAP members whose music falls into an open-ended array of musical genres. Also, awarded musicians are typically at the early or midlevel range of their careers, and their unique contributions to the music industry typically have generated more prestige value, as opposed to monetary compensation. Many of the award candidates have yet to showcase their work or have it reviewed in mainstream broadcast media.

ASCAP President Marilyn Bergman commented on the awards: "Since 1960, the unique ASCAPLUS Awards program has provided deserving music creators with something meaningful and tangible in the form of recognition and money." Award amounts are determined by the judging panel and each award amount is specific to each recipient.

Galindo's work spans a wide spectrum of artistic expression: symphonic composition, musical computer interaction, electro-acoustic music, opera, film scores, instrument building, multimedia installation, and sound design. His music and work has been performed and shown at major festivals and art exhibitions throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.

Galindo's most recent work focuses on music as ritual, live audience interaction, the creation of cyber-totemic/interactive sound objects, symbolism, and site-specific sound environments.

Additionally, Galindo has written two operas: Califas 2000, with text and performance art by MacArthur Fellow Guillermo Gómez-Peña; and Decreation: Fight Cherries, which includes text by MacArthur Fellow Anne Carson (and premiered at CCA in 2001).

For more information visit

Also visit Guillermo Galindo's website:

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 by Kim Lessard

Stephanie Sandstrom

California College of the Arts Fashion Design undergraduate Stephanie Sandstrom will compete in Project Outdoor Retailer, a 48-hour "concept-to-prototype" student design competition that takes place in conjunction with the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City January 22–25, 2009. This is the leading outdoor-industry trade show, bringing together manufacturers, retailers, industry advocates, media, and other professionals. CCA's Fashion Design Program is one of only five in the United States sending a student competitor. Project Outdoor Retailer debuted in 2008 at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

Sandstrom and the four other hand-picked students will have just 48 hours to produce garment prototypes that are original, make innovative use of performance and eco-friendly materials, and have a practical application in the outdoor market. Once they complete their initial garment designs, they will turn their drawings into products using the latest fabrics, zippers, and other components provided by participating exhibitors. They will then spend the remainder of the 48-hour timeframe at their workstations (equipped with sewing machines, cutting tables, and other tools), building their final prototypes.

Project Outdoor Retailer's panel of judges, comprised of professional designers and industry trendsetters, will review each contestant's final prototype and presentation on January 25, the last day of the trade show. The winning student will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2009 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and a profile in Textiles Intelligence.

The participants will be filmed in a reality-competition-style format that begins with an initial design brief and then follows them through conception, sourcing, production, and the final presentations. Attendees and others will be able to follow their progress in designated areas throughout the show, and also via streaming video at

Sandstrom recently garnered international attention at the Fashioning the Future summit in London, when she was a runner-up in the "Chuck It or Keep it" global student competition.

About CCA's Fashion Design Program

Established in 1996, CCA's Fashion Design Program is an idea-driven, craft-based course of study that emphasizes design concepts and skill development. The goal is to produce designers of daring originality who are willing to explore across disciplines and contribute to fashion as an aspect of modern art and culture. Students gain technical expertise in pattern making, sewing, draping, and fashion illustration. They develop creative solutions to the challenges of sustainability by designing fashions that respect the environment and preserve native cultures. Alumni of the program work in all aspects of the industry for companies such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Gap Inc., Gymboree, Jones of NYC, Levi Strauss & Co., TIBI, Ralph Lauren, Narciso Rodriguez, Athleta, Elie Tahari, and Thom Browne. Many have developed their own firms in the United States and abroad.

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 San Francisco and Oakland, CCA currently enrolls 1,740 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 Friday, January 9, 2009 by Lindsey Lyons

Ralph Borge (left) and Harry X. Ford hold a drawing of Ford made by Borge on the occasion of Ford’s retirement as CCA president in 1984

Ralph Borge died on December 30, 2008, in San Francisco. He would have been 87 on January 11, 2009. Ralph was, without question, one of the college’s giants.

After graduating in 1952 he taught here for 38 years. He was the elder statesman of the Drawing and Painting programs, serving as mentor to generations of artists, several of whom became senior professors of Painting and Drawing at CCA.

Posted on Friday, January 9, 2009 by Lindsey Lyons

Harry X. Ford (right) and Ralph Borge, professor emeritus of Drawing, hold a drawing of Ford made by Borge on the occasion of Ford’s retirement as CCA president in 1984

Former CCA president Harry X. Ford passed away on December 29 at age 87. Mr. Ford earned his MA at Sacramento State University in 1953. He began his career here in 1958 as chair of the Teacher Education Department. He was appointed acting president in September 1959 and became president in 1960, serving in that capacity until 1984.

In an interview published in the winter 2007 edition of CCA’s Glance magazine, he said his most pivotal accomplishment was advancing the college by taking it in an international direction.

Posted on Thursday, January 1, 2009 by Jim Norrena

About the video
California College of the Arts faculty member Linda Geary interviews Painting/Drawing student Yolla Knight.

In Yolla's words
"I think the best things about CCA are really the sense of community here and the friendships you make and the connections you make with instructors. I think the teachers are really central to CCA's success. They're just very generous people and have really enhanced my experience here."


Posted on Thursday, January 1, 2009 by Jim Norrena

About the video
California College of the Arts Photography chair and associate professor Tammy Rae Carland interviews Photography student Jesse Crimes.

In Jesse's words
"One of the things that I really noticed when I first started here was that all of the teachers and all of the classes are structured in a way to make you critically think about everything that you're doing."


Posted on Thursday, January 1, 2009 by Jim Norrena

About the video
California College of the Arts faculty member Antje Steinmuller interviews Architecture student Kyle Belcher.

In Kyle's words