Community Arts News

Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 by Allison Byers

Social-practice programs are popping up in academia and seem to thrive in the interdisciplinary world of the campus. (The first dedicated master of fine arts program in the field was founded in 2005 at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and today there are more than half a dozen.)

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Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 by Allison Byers

Lastly, Filley and Dominguez have enlisted the help of students at the California College of the Arts. This semester, instructor Liz Ogbu is teaching a class called Creative Disruption, which seeks to "understand the needs and desires [of] the diverse constituencies of the Koreatown-Northgate as well as propose opportunities for engagement."

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Posted on Friday, March 15, 2013 by Allison Byers

On the 15th of every month, Michael Swaine trundles into San Francisco’s Tenderloin district with a cart-mounted sewing machine—the old-fashioned kind, which you can only operate by means of a treadle.

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Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 by Matthew Harrison Tedford

The Walls of Hope project in progress in Monthey, Switzerland

Claudia Bernardi (today a professor in CCA's Community Arts Program, but who also teaches in a wide range of disciplines, including Diversity Studies, Fine Arts, and Visual and Critical Studies programs) was a student at the university of art in Buenos Aires in 1976, the year the military dictatorship took power in Argentina.

"Those were very dark years -- very tragic, painful, and violent. The ones who survived learned to look at life, history, and art quite differently."

Posted on Friday, August 24, 2012 by Allison Byers

Often the role of an artist is simply to disrupt and create a perceptual shift. This past April, I was invited to participate in a residency program where the studios were on the outskirts of a small town, scattered among a forest. The residency promoted its relationship between artists, nature and quiet contemplation. Upon arrival, I was confronted with this somewhat contrived environment, but also with performance artist Jordan McKenzie.

Posted on Thursday, July 19, 2012 by Allison Byers

The work of Social Practice is on the rise, but compared to the traditional art world news of auction prices and gallery openings, it doesn’t seem to be receiving as much online attention. Institutions such as California College of the Arts, Portland State University, Otis College of Art, The Queens Museum of Art, Creative Time and more have come to emphasis this quietly growing field, but many news sources are slow to the show and struggle with representing the immersive projects.

Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 by Christina Linden

Amy Campos and CCA students at the Dolores Shelter Program

In fall 2011, CCA faculty member Amy Campos and a group of Interior Design students worked with Dolores Shelter Program (DSP) as part of an ENGAGE at CCA course. Their brief: to generate ideas for the renovation of DSP's homeless shelter on South Van Ness in the Mission District of San Francisco.

The facility's residents are in great need of an empowering and supportive sense of place, hope, and safety, and the aspiration was to facilitate this via better space planning and organization, and the creation of more durable and usable furnishings and storage.

Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 by Christina Linden

Eduardo Pineda (right) plans the Shorenstein site mural with students in his ENGAGE at CCA course

Eduardo Pineda is a recent addition to CCA's Diversity Studies faculty, but he is a member of long standing in Bay Area community-arts circles. Since he has begun teaching at the college, he has gravitated in particular to the programs hosted through CCA's Center for Art and Public Life, especially the ENGAGE at CCA courses, in which students work with community-based organizations and outside experts to address pressing local issues.

Posted on Monday, April 23, 2012 by Simon Hodgson

Sanjit Sethi

What links the children of Oakland's Emery Secondary School with the inmates of San Quentin? Answer: CCA students have worked with both in partner programs organized by CCA's Center for Art and Public Life. The Center, operating out of an unassuming office on Broadway opposite CCA's main Oakland campus, is a dynamic hub connecting the college with organizations across the Bay Area operating in the fields of art, education, business, design, community work, ecology, and beyond. Its ever-widening network is overseen by the Center's director, Sanjit Sethi, whose formidable leadership skills and affable manner have made him much admired and extraordinarily well connected.

In the last four years, Sethi and the Center have focused their activities into three well-defined programs, which immediately benefit hundreds of CCA students every year. ENGAGE at CCA organizes semester-long courses in collaboration with faculty members that occur across disciplines throughout the college and operate in partnership with outside organizations such as Bethany Senior Center Housing or the Temescal Mural Project to solve specific, well-defined issues. The IMPACT Social Entrepreneurship Awards give up to $10,000 to interdisciplinary teams of CCA students to devise, plan, and execute social and humanitarian projects benefiting specific communities, anywhere in the world, over one summer. CCA CONNECTS are structured "externships" in which 40 students every year work at outside organizations such as the design firm Rebar or the architectural group Asian Neighborhood Design.

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012 by Mitchell Schwarzer

Mitchell Schwarzer gives his introduction at the CCA faculty retreat

On February 4, 2012, the faculty at California College of the Arts gathered at the college's San Francisco campus for a retreat focused on the state of the arts across our many disciplines. In the morning, 25 short presentations offered insights into challenges and opportunities faced by practitioners and thinkers in recent times. The word aired most frequently was crisis: the crisis of the Great Recession; the crisis of Global Climate Change; the crisis of understanding and working within a discipline in our digital age.

Watch the video of all the presentations (91 minutes), shot and edited by Yoni Klein (Photography 2012)

The economic downturn has produced an economic squeeze within most of our disciplines. Art directors, as Alexis Mahrus remarks, have diminished roles in shaping an illustration. Smaller profit margins reduce the flexibility and time given over to experimentation. Branding and celebrity worship take up a larger slice of the creative pie. Some presenters, like Sue Redding of Industrial Design, see no problem in this conflation of art and business and, furthermore, dispute the notion of a crisis. Yet many presenters feel that the economic crisis is not only real but wielding dangerously asymmetrical impacts. Demand remains strong for high-end craft goods and blue-chip fine art. Some small nonprofits are struggling to survive. To Ignacio Valero of Critical Studies, the priority given over to luxury items can be attributed to the ongoing influence of classical economic policies that privilege individual decision making over collective social and natural needs. Likewise, Sandra Vivanco of Diversity Studies notes that economic inequalities have greatly worsened over the past few years, especially in the developing world. Contemporary society is forging a timeless, spaceless way of conducting business, a race for lucrative and short-term gains that concentrates investment more than ever in the hands of a few.

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