Diversity Studies News

Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 by Jim Norrena

(l-r) Pratibha Parmar, Alice Walker, and Geena Davis [photo: Jim Norrena]

Pratibha Parmar is a British filmmaker, director, producer, and writer who is known internationally for her political and often controversial documentary film work. She’s also a stalwart activist within the global feminism and lesbian rights movements.

In short, her accomplishments and commitment to making art that matters makes her an ideal visiting artist (MFA in Film) here at California College of the Arts.

Before she was born, Parmar’s family emigrated from India to East Africa, and then later immigrated to London, where she was raised and went on to study at Bradford and Birmingham Universities where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively.

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Posted on Monday, January 20, 2014 by Lindsey Westbrook

On a crystal-clear June evening in summer 2013, the sun is setting in Marfa, Texas, and a dozen CCA students -- together with a dozen more students from two art schools in the Netherlands -- are settling into the evening rhythms of their tent city.

The tents are cozily nestled in the courtyard of a former officer’s club, long abandoned by the US military. Elsewhere in the building complex, an old bar has been converted into an ad hoc Internet lounge. A spookily empty ballroom houses a broken-down old piano. The kitchen has accommodated the making of many a communal dinner.

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Posted on Friday, May 31, 2013 by Lindsey Westbrook

Liz Ogbu is CCA's "scholar in residence" at the Center for Art and Public Life. She spends about four or five hours a week there; she'd love it to be more, but she's a busy woman.

As often as twice a month she's getting on a plane to attend a design or education conference somewhere around the world -- frequently as an invited speaker. She teaches one course per semester at CCA, which translates to about one day a week. She spends another day every week teaching at Stanford University's famed Institute of Design, better known as "the d.school."

She also runs an independent consultancy that undertakes short- and long-term projects; currently she's working with CCA Architecture faculty member Douglas Burnham on something for PG&E, something else for the Nike Foundation in Nigeria, and a pop-up health clinic project funded by Autodesk.

With another CCA Architecture faculty member, Lisa Findley, she’s writing a chapter on South Africa for a book on different ways of appropriating space globally.

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Posted on Sunday, May 26, 2013 by Jim Norrena

What exactly is the connection between art and science?

CCA's division of humanities and sciences has developed a thoroughly interdisciplinary, two-year thematic curricular project called Exploring Science in the Studio to keep this question on the minds of undergraduates, as they consider courses that satisfy their science requirements.

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Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 by Jim Norrena

The Tribeca Film Institute Filmmaker Programming Team has chosen CCA faculty member Cheryl Dunye as one of 10 finalists for its newest initiative -- the Heineken Affinity Award.

Dunye, a native of Liberia, has directed such feature films as My Baby's Daddy (Miramax), Stranger Inside (HBO Films), and The Watermelon Woman, which was awarded the Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1996.

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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."

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Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2012 by Jim Norrena

The next time you butter your bread or pinch some salt or add crème fraîche to your coffee while dining at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, the world-renowned eatery known for using local, organic foods and credited as the inspiration for the style of cooking known as California cuisine, you'll likely be holding a piece of art made by CCA ceramicist Travis McFlynn (Sculpture 2013).

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Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

From Amber Cox's documentation of San Francisco's Financial District

San Francisco and Istanbul: Both built across seven hills, on peninsulas jutting into major bodies of water, where East meets West dramatically and literally-continentally. Their respective situations along major global shipping routes means that they have always been rich in trade, rich in a cosmopolitan diversity of cultures, and rich in ideas: Just as the Bay Area has been a center of forward thinking, from the 1960s Haight-Ashbury counterculture to contemporary entrepreneurial Silicon Valley culture, Turkey -- and especially Istanbul -- is facing the future culturally and politically in its unique position at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Arab world.

CCA and Istanbul: East Meets West

CCA has been engaging with Istanbul in many cultural exchanges in recent years. In 2011 Jens Hoffmann, director of the CCA Wattis Institute, co-curated the 12th Istanbul Biennial, which featured numerous CCA alumni and faculty. The Vehbi Koç Foundation of Turkey recently announced its pledge to support one full-time Turkish student each year in CCA's Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice. And in spring 2012, Mariella Poli's CCA course Locality and Global Discourses facilitated an exchange between 16 students at CCA and five students at Istanbul Bilgi University.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Watching their Carnaval float moving down Mission Street as part of San Francisco's massive annual parade, laden with dancers from the Brazilian troupe Sambaxé, accompanied by the vibrant beats of the Brazilian musical group Blocura and the powerful moves of the Brazilian ABADA Capoeira troupe, TV cameras rolling, people cheering from the sidewalks and the rooftops high above. . . It was a triumphant moment for CCA faculty member Sandra Vivanco and the 15 students in her Body and Spectacle course.

The Carnaval parade was the culmination of a semester of hard work and intensive collaboration -- not only among the CCA students, but also in coordination with a group of high school students enrolled in the Out of Site Youth Arts Center, the city of San Francisco, experts in construction and transportation, and beyond. The CCA course was offered under the auspices of Diversity Studies and attracted a correspondingly wide-ranging bunch, from Architecture and Interior Design to Graphic Design, Illustration, Fashion Design, and Painting/Drawing.

The students designed not only the Carnaval float structure, but also the costumes and props that made its appearance in the parade a real performance rather than just a potential site for one. They had done as much work as they could in the CCA shops, and then transported the pieces to Pier 40, where the city graciously donated space for final assembly.

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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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