Center for Art and Public Life News

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 Tuesday, March 8, 2011 by Samantha Braman

(This is the third of four installments describing highlights of the spring 2010 ENGAGE at CCA courses. You can also download the whole story as it appeared in Glance, CCA's college magazine.)

Community Partner Organization: Bethany Center Senior Housing, San Francisco

CCA Faculty Leaders: Rachel Robinette and Charlie Sheldon, Design

Outside Experts: Patricia Moore, designer and gerontologist; Jump Associates; Wayne Pan of Affinity Medical Solutions and SciMed Partners Inc.; Anna Cwirko-Godycki of the U.S. Administration on Aging

Goal: Define pragmatic, cost-effective design solutions that benefit elder residents and administrators at Bethany Center

Bethany Center is a progressive, publicly subsidized, low-income, 133-unit elder living facility in San Francisco's Mission District. Its population is incredibly diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, language, and the residents' personal histories. It also has a specific policy of encouraging and welcoming the arts, which made it an obvious ENGAGE match for faculty leaders Rachel Robinette and Charlie Sheldon.

"The Bethany Center was really excited to get a fresh take on its problems -- which are mostly centered on communications, residential life, and community engagement -- from a design perspective," says Sheldon.

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011 by Samantha Braman

(This is the second of four installments describing highlights of the spring 2010 ENGAGE at CCA courses. You can also download the whole story as it appeared in Glance, CCA's college magazine.)

Community Partner Organization: Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland

CCA Faculty Leader: Russell Baldon, Furniture

Outside Expert: Justin Champaign of Coalesse

Goal: Create functional, attractive, and affordable tables for Lighthouse’s new K–12 library

Course blog: Visit the course-specific blog

Do you remember your grade-school library? Probably fondly. Do you remember the furniture? Probably not at all.

This course set out to change that, for at least a few kids, at Lighthouse Community Charter School. Furniture chair Russell Baldon had wanted to work with Lighthouse for years, knowing that its predominantly inner-city Latino students would benefit tremendously from exposure to the design world. Even before he knew about ENGAGE's impending launch, he'd already been in touch with Lighthouse's director of development and with Justin Champaign, an industrial designer at the furniture firm Coalesse, about some sort of collaboration. (Champaign is also a CCA Furniture 2007 alum.) "When I heard the rumor that ENGAGE was coming," Baldon says, "I saw this course as a natural fit."

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 by Samantha Braman

(This is the first of four installments describing highlights of the spring 2010 ENGAGE at CCA courses. You can also download the whole story as it appeared in Glance, CCA's college magazine.)

"Art school can definitely put you in a kind of bubble. But it can also help you break out of the bubble."

So said one of the 140 students (although more of them were thinking it!) coming up for air after one of the most intense and immersive experiences of their college careers thus far: ENGAGE at CCA.

This new group of project-based courses is an outgrowth of several decades of community-centered work by CCA students and faculty. This past spring more than 140 students, enrolled in 10 different courses, did everything from creating ceramic nesting modules for threatened bird species at Ano Nuevo Island to designing new systems for elders at Bethany Center Senior Housing. More than a dozen new courses are happening this academic year, including a Writing course with San Quentin State Prison, a Textiles course with Zen Hospice Project, and a Community Arts course with La Cocina (the San Francisco "incubator kitchen" for women).

Posted on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 by Jason Engelund

Banker White with WeOwnTV at work in Sierra Leone

CCA alumnus Banker White (MFA 2000) is a documentary filmmaker. You may know him as the director of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, about a group of Sierra Leonean musicians who gained international renown and landed a record deal.

Posted on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 by Jason Engelund

IMPACT Idea Sessions

The Center for Art and Public Life is hosting Idea Sessions for CCA students to discuss project ideas and connect with other students interested in being part of an IMPACT Social Entrepreneurship Award team. Please come ready to discuss social and humanitarian issues you are most passionate about and how you might collaborate through an interdisciplinary team. Meet other students with similar interests and form an IMPACT team. In addition, Center staff will be available to answer any questions about the IMPACT program and the application process.

Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 by Samantha Braman

Ryan Duke (Industrial Design 2008), an independent Oakland-based industrial designer and CCA alum, won the 2010 Oakland Indie Award in the "Greenie" category this past May.

Posted on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 by Chris Bliss

California College of the Arts (CCA) announces the launch of the IMPACT Social Entrepreneurship Awards. The program will enable interdisciplinary teams of CCA students to develop and implement social innovations through their studies in art, architecture, design, and writing. Three IMPACT Awards up to $10,000 each will be given annually, beginning in spring 2011.

Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 by Jason Engelund

This fall the performance group We Players will present Shakespeare's Hamlet on Alcatraz Island, and recent graduate Anna Whitehead (MFA Social Practice 2010) has been heavily involved in the project. She was awarded a Center Student Grant to work with at-risk youth, people incarcerated, and people on probation to create large-scale puppets and masks that will be used in the play. Hamlet opens Saturday, October 2, and continues through November 21.

Posted on Thursday, September 23, 2010 by Lindsey Westbrook

Huffington Post has just published a wonderful story about CCA faculty member Claudia Bernardi and the great work she is doing around the world.