ENGAGE at CCA News

Posted on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 by Sarah Owens

YBCA's grand lobby

California College of the Arts and San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) paired up this spring when “Production Furniture 1” students, taught and developed by Furniture Program chair Russell Baldon, created new and original furniture designs for YBCA’s grand lobby. The course is a part of ENGAGE at CCA, an interdisciplinary project-based learning initiative at the college that encourages interaction and collaboration between CCA students and community partners.

Community Building

The idea for a project-based furniture course in collaboration with YBCA stemmed from a conversation between Baldon and YBCA graphic designer crystal am-nelson. They had started a conversation at a previous YBCA event about the lack of unique, dynamic furniture in the grand lobby space. The project was born soon thereafter.

“We started with a basic problem in that we needed new furniture for our lobby,” said nelson. “And I felt that whatever we chose had to be very representative of who we truly are, which is not easy to find at a furniture store. That’s when I thought about continuing to work with local design students by co-creating a process where their work could be transformed into a real-life situation while they were still in school.

“I also was interested in experimenting with the museum as a laboratory for emerging artists and educational institutions,” nelson revealed. “It was wonderful to witness their development and excitement for the project throughout the various stages.”

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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.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Slammer: Writing In and About Prison class photo (photo by Jeff Von Ward)

On March 4, 2011, ten CCA writing students followed in the footsteps of Johnny Cash into the oldest correctional facility in California: San Quentin State Prison. We were there to attend a creative writing class, an invitation arranged by MFA Program in Writing faculty member Anne Marino. Last year, Marino participated in a literary contest pitting a handful of Bay Area professional writers against a group of inmate writers. After experiencing the inmates' responses and the quality of their work, she organized a new graduate-level course as part of the ongoing ENGAGE at CCA initiative: "Slammer: Writing In and About Prison," in which students would read works about incarceration and explore the roots, themes, and social and psychological significance of prison literature. Which is how Paul Blumer, Lauren Camacho, Max Cherney, Kyler Hood, Luisa Leija, Julian Quisquater, Rae Thomas, Rachael Volk, Jeff Von Ward, and I came to pass through the razor-wire gates of San Quentin on this blustery Friday evening.

Before driving out to the bleak, wind-swept promontory in Marin County, we'd all familiarized ourselves with San Quentin's guest handbook. The guidance notes issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) were intimidatingly direct. For instance: "Wear shoes you can run in." No visitors are allowed to wear green (the color of the guards' uniforms), orange (the jumpsuits worn by recently arrived inmates), or blue. Inmates wear dark-blue denim pants and shirts the color of Tar Heel blue, both stenciled with "CDCR PRISONER" in large yellow print.

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Posted on Monday, April 4, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Kota Ezawa, still from City of Nature, 2011

For Kota Ezawa, it's crunch time. The German-Japanese artist and Film Program faculty member has barely recovered from the tumult and applause surrounding the acquisition of one of his digitally animated works by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Now, he's plunged into a residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito and is presenting a public piece in the most iconic city in film history: New York. From March 31 to May 15, Madison Square Park is hosting Ezawa's City of Nature project, in which he distills images of nature -- a waterfall, a mountain, a marlin -- from movies and shows them as animations on four LCD screens. The commission is officially a part of Mad. Sq. Art, a program of the Madison Square Park Conservancy.

Ezawa sourced more than 40 movies for the project. "I was really interested in scenes where nature drives the story," he says. "Shots without human presence. No people. No buildings." Eagle-eyed viewers will detect some familiar films -- Brokeback Mountain, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Old Man and the Sea -- as well as a few that are less recognizable, for example a jungle shot from Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, or a waterfall from the 1960s German Western Winnetou.

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Posted on Monday, March 28, 2011 by Samantha Braman

(This is the fourth 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: 826 Valencia, San Francisco

CCA Faculty Leader: Aimee Phan, Writing and Literature

Outside Expert: Judith Tannenbaum, teaching artist and writer

Goal: Mentor John O'Connell High School students through the process of producing an anthology of personal essays

Dave Eggers is one of San Francisco's precious few hometown celebrities, famous for his books and his literary journal McSweeney's. And then there's his awesome pirate store at 826 Valencia, where just behind the peg legs, eye patches, and bottles of Scurvy-Be-Gone is a space devoted to helping students ages 6 to 18 develop their writing skills.

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Posted on Friday, March 11, 2011 by Jim Norrena

McSweeney's managing editor Eli Horowitz (left) and editor Jordan Bass

CCA's Writers Series Attracts High-Caliber Writers

The popular weekly Writers Series is required for first-year ink slingers (okay, pixel pushers) enrolled in CCA's MFA Program in Writing, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, thanks in large part to the leadership of chair Joseph Lease. The series is offered each fall and spring and is masterfully curated by associate professor Tom Barbash.

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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.

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Posted on Monday, February 21, 2011 by Lindsey Westbrook

Where a road had been
BlazeVOX, 2010
Paperback, 68 pages, $16

This is the first book by Writing and Literature faculty member Matt Shears. Cal Bedient says: "Matt Shears enters American poetry already far to the fore, just perceptible at the limit of a strenuous, refined thinking about the dirt and destructions of new beginnings.

At once super-sophisticated and an American original, Shears comes out of Gertrude Stein via the great late-20th century French thought about the constant coverings-up of language ('they were always covering up. / what they were saying, and so baroque'), and about the torsions and wipings-away, the fear and the featherings, in any attempt to arrive at (to be) the new, there 'where dis-covery [is] becoming. / in a fledgling sky, with a destructible wing.' Once or twice he tantalizes the reader with the possibility that the new might actually be, despite history, a pure 'yes / hosanna / hello'; but in the main, he's a tough-minded realist."

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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."

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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).

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