Critical Studies News

Posted on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by Laura Braun

Aimee Phan, author of the novel The Reeducation of Cherry Truong, says without hesitation that her husband is her Vera. Phan and the poet Matt Shears, both professors at California College of the Arts, have two young children (ages two and five, respectively). Shears prepares 90 percent of the family’s meals these days—a duty he took up after they welcomed their first child.

Read the rest

Posted on Monday, November 11, 2013 by Lindsey Westbrook

Architecture Xenoculture
eVolo, 2013
Paperback, 300 pages, $24.95

“Xenoculture” is a term coined by the Iranian writer and philosopher Reza Negarestani to describe the need for embracing and exploring the unexpected, the alien. This fifth issue of eVolo, coedited by Benjamin Rice (Architecture and Critical Studies faculty), borrows the idea and explores works by architects and designers who detach from everything that architecture is supposed to be and look like, including preconceived forms and aesthetics, to look into new architectural and design possibilities.

The featured architects and designers include Hernan Diaz Alonso, Servo, Francois Roche, Marc Fornes, Kokkugia, Zaha Hadid, Volkan Alkanoglu, and Rafael Lozano, among others.

Read the rest

Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 by Lindsey Westbrook

Mountain of Paradise: Reflections on the Emergence of Greater California as a World Civilization
Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2013
Hardcover, 212 pages, $79.95

Mountain of Paradise by Critical Studies faculty member Josef Chytry challenges conventional taxonomies of world civilizations by introducing a new and formidable candidate: the civilization of Greater California presently incubating as the evolution of California into a veritable "nation-state" or "world commonwealth" according to contemporary commentators and scholars.

Through a series of reflective essays, Chytry clarifies the momentous implications of this claim by a thorough account of the genealogical origins of "California," permutation into its speculative moment of self-identity thanks to prolonged creative interchange with European thought and philosophy, advancement to status of a socioeconomic powerhouse by the 1950s and 1960s, invention of distinctly Californian variants of political economy by the 1970s and 1980s, and present domination over regions formerly classified as "Greater California."

Read the rest

Posted on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 by Lindsey Westbrook

Modern Print Activism in the United States
Ashgate, 2013
Hardcover, 270 pages, $99.95

Director of Humanities and Sciences Rachel Schreiber edits this book devoted to the explosion of socially and politically activist print culture that occurred in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. These essays focus on specific groups, individuals, and causes that relied on print as a vehicle for activism. They also take up the variety of print forms in which calls for activism have appeared, including fiction, editorials, letters to the editor, graphic satire, and non-periodical media such as pamphlets and calendars.

Read the rest

Posted on Monday, April 29, 2013 by Jim Norrena

Alumnus Neil Grimmer in Times Square after opening the New York Stock Exchange

Neil Grimmer (BFA Sculpture 1995) epitomizes success.

He’s an accomplished conceptual artist and designer (with past exhibitions at Catharine Clark Gallery, New Langton Arts, Southern Exposure, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, among others) and today serves as CEO of Plum Inc. (formerly Nest Collective), a pioneer and global provider of premium, nutritious organic baby food with brand name Plum Organics, which Forbes magazine named #19 on its 2013 list of "America's Most Promising Companies."

And he's a dad on a mission. Watch video »

Read the rest

Posted on Monday, January 14, 2013 by Jim Norrena

Events are part of the Graduate Studies Symposium

What does narrative mean to architects, artists, critics, designers, scholars, and writers? How can the unfolding of a story communicate, evoke, engage, and captivate audiences?

This exhibition and lecture/performance series explores narrative in a broad range of genres.

Narrative (Inter)actions is a series of performances, lectures, and exhibition that comprise the spring Graduate Studies Symposium at California College of the Arts.

Please join us for these exciting events:

Read the rest

Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Gilgamesh
Contra Mundum Press, 2012
Paperback, 344 pages, $18

Composed over 2,500 years, then lost in the deserts of Iraq for 2,000 more, Gilgamesh presents a palimpsest of ancient Middle Eastern cultic and courtly lyrics and lore. It is the story of a visionary journey beyond the limits of human experience. The legends it collects ultimately informed Greek and Egyptian myths, Hebrew Scriptures, and Islamic literature. Scholarly translations of Gilgamesh often dilute the expressive force of the material through overzealous erudition. Popular versions of the poem frequently gloss over gaps in the text with accessible and comforting, but ultimately falsely ecumenical language. In this new version, Stuart Kendall (Critical Studies chair) animates the latest scholarship with a contemporary poetic sensibility, inspired by the pagan worldview of the ancient work. Transcriptions of all of the available tablets and tales have been harnessed to present a fluid and holistic text, true to the archaic mind.

Read the rest

Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 by Chris Bliss

New Provost Melanie Corn

Melanie Corn has been appointed provost of California College of the Arts (CCA), it was announced today by President Stephen Beal. Currently CCA’s associate provost, she will assume the position in May 2012. As provost Corn will be CCA's chief academic officer with broad responsibilities for the strategic planning, development, and administration of the college's academic programs.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

10,000 Wallpapers
Brooklyn Arts Press, 2011
Paperback, 40 pages, $8

This is a new chapbook of poems by Matt Shears, a faculty member in Writing and Literature, Writing, and Critical Studies. Cathy Park Hong, author of Dance Dance Revolution, says, "This long lyric is full of brute terror and bucolic beauty, exploring individual consciousness unmoored by our present 'thundering interconnectivity'; 10,000 Wallpapers chronicles 'the everyman meandering through this digitized countryside,' questioning how we can truly inhabit the world when reality has become denatured by the image. The speaker in this poem sings like Prufrock, in a lyric that is searing and true, as he searches for the possibilities of pure utterance and perception amidst what is manufactured."

Read the rest

Pages