Community Arts News

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.

Posted on Thursday, March 8, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Self as Super Hero: Handbook on Creating the Life-Size Self-Portrait
Sankofa Publishing, 2011
Kindle edition, $18

This book is by Amana Harris, CCA alumna and faculty member in Diversity Studies The ArtEsteem Self as Super Hero curriculum was inspired by a need for heroes for our children, youth, and communities. The heroes we need are defined as exceptional individuals or beings who inspire, protect, and serve, standing and taking action for justice and for the well-being of the environment, people, and animals. This multidisciplinary curriculum takes children, youth, and adults through a journey of self-exploration, family and cultural research, societal assessment, and development of aesthetic tools for artistic creation. The ArtEsteem Super Hero is a re-created version of self that embodies superpowers that help create a more loving and peaceful world. In the end, the goal is to allow you to stretch your imagination and integrate your ideas to expand and make this curriculum your own.

Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 by Jim Norrena

Production stills from CCA's newest "drama queens": Candacy Taylor, Greacian Goeke, Susan Sobeloff, and Jennifer Roberts

"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." -- Oscar Wilde

In the last year a growing number of CCA graduates -- each representing a unique program of study -- has tapped into the Bay Area's richly diverse and proliferating performing arts scene to have a full-scale world premiere of their work brought to fruition. Among these impressive alumnae are:

Candacy Taylor (MFA Visual Criticism 2002)

Posted on Thursday, November 3, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Social Craft builds a home on the campus of Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology in Bangalore

$10,000: It's a daunting amount of money to a student, especially when the task is to spend it in three months on a single project. But three CCA student IMPACT teams proved up to the challenge in summer 2011.

The IMPACT: Social Entrepreneurship Awards is a new initiative at CCA, run by the Center for Art and Public Life under the direction of Center director Sanjit Sethi and program manager Rebecca Wolfe. It is one of a trio of unique programs managed by the Center that connect students with outside communities to address specific, real-world problems.

The three winning IMPACT teams had competed against numerous other contenders, and they all had what the judges were looking for: They were interdisciplinary, they had strong relationships with their proposed community partners, they were attentive to a relevant social and humanitarian need, and they balanced innovation and pragmatism.

Sanjit Sethi says, "The name of this speaks for itself. At its core the IMPACT program is about innovation, community, collaboration, and making. It celebrates the entrepreneurial drive of CCA students combined with their desire to create a tangible, positive impact within a specific community."

(Note to students: Info sessions for summer 2012 IMPACT are happening in San Francisco on Nov. 8 and 17 at 6 p.m. in the Timken reception area, and in Oakland Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. in front of A2 Cafe.)

The year-one IMPACT teams reported on their completed projects on September 29, 2011, in Timken Lecture Hall on CCA's San Francisco campus.

Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Just Design: Socially Conscious Design for Critical Causes
How, 2011
Hardcover, 208 pages, $40

Christopher Simmons (Graphic Design faculty) is a designer, writer, educator, design advocate, and principal of the noted San Francisco design office MINE. Here he organizes 150 design projects into six sections exploring the different ways design can serve the greater good, from supporting existing causes to seeking out hidden problems to celebrating positive change. Essays by influential designers and interviews with designers who pursue social change offer insight into how any designer can use his or her talents to change the world. Works by numerous CCA faculty and alumni are featured, and Cinthia Wen (Graphic Design chair) contributes an essay.

Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Happy Earth Day, CCA!

California College of the Arts is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to The Princeton Review, an education service that helps students select and apply to colleges.

CCA's inclusion in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition reinforces the college's reputation as an exemplary institution of higher education committed to sustainability.

The news, which USA Today reported Wednesday, April 20, arrives just in time for today's Earth Day celebration—and brings to a close CCA's Earth Week festivities with a remarkable bang!

The Guide to 311 Green Colleges, the first and only free comprehensive college guidebook to focus solely on high-ranking U.S. colleges and universities, showcases outstanding commitments to environmental sustainability in and out of the classroom (e.g., environmentally related practices, policies, and academic offerings). The 220-page guide contains profiles of 308 institutions of higher education in the United States and three in Canada, all of which demonstrate a significant commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation.

Posted on Thursday, March 31, 2011 by Jason Engelund

courtesy WAZO Design Institute

2011 is the inaugural year of the IMPACT Social Entrepreneurship Awards program, one of the anchor initiatives of CCA's Center for Art and Public Life. This program enables interdisciplinary teams of CCA students to develop and implement social innovations through their studies in art, architecture, design, and writing. We are pleased to announce the winning IMPACT Teams for 2011! Each team has been awarded $10,000 toward their project.

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.