International News

Posted on Monday, July 18, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Rebecca Najdowski with Tio Lino. They created Rocinha Foto Project, a photography course for community youth

Even after the end date of her nine-month Fulbright scholarship in São Paulo, Brazil, the photographer and artist Rebecca Najdowski (MFA 2010) couldn't resist staying just a little longer to make one more trip, south to the Argentinean border, to see the legendary waterfalls of Iguaçu.

Art and travel have been soldered together in her life for as long as Najdowski can remember. She grew up in Santa Fe, a city world-renowned for its art scene. "I was surrounded by this impulse for craft. My dad was a silversmith and had a studio attached to the house. His work wasn't separate from his regular daily life. My mom was a school counselor and teacher at a public elementary school. During school holidays, she'd take off to Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, with organizations like Save the Rainforest, and often brought me with her. I've definitely inherited my love for travel from her, the drive to really experience other parts of the world."

Movement infuses Najdowski's own artistic practice, from her Spectra photogram experiments with color and light to her photographs of rural Brazilian storefronts to her roaming investigations into South American shamanism. "Travel forces you to be really open to new people and experiences. During my time in Brazil I couldn't stop traveling, moving around to collect experiences and material. I went to Rio, to Brasília, to Recife for a folk carnival (a super cool experience), and took a three-day boat trip on the Amazon River between Belém and Santarém. The river is so massive, sometimes you feel you're on a lake. Near the northern Brazilian outpost of São Luís, I went to see a tidal bore known as the pororoca, from the word for 'destructive noise' in the indigenous Tupi language. It is an immense wave caused by salt water crashing over fresh water during the new and full moons. It's not exactly on the tourist map -- I had to go through hoops to get in touch with local surfers to reach it."

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 Wednesday, March 16, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Piero Passacantando at work in his studio with Dawa Tamang in Kathmandu (photo by Clarissa Bynum)

Now back at home in New York after a 10-month Fulbright residency in Kathmandu, CCA alumnus Piero Passacantando (MFA Social Practice 2009) is already planning his return to Nepal. During his time there, the Italian-American artist studied Thangka, a centuries-old traditional Himalayan art form that uses specific geometric guidelines in its compositions.

"My hope is that I can somehow continue my project. I originally went there to learn the technical and iconographic aspects of Thangka, but I became interested in the geometry and social production, the workshop system. The guys I worked with, Dawa and Sherab Tamang, were only 19 and 20 years old, and their level of skill was just astonishing." Passacantando was impressed by Kathmandu's artistic community, which was very different from that of San Francisco or New York. "The Thangka artists see it as labor, a job. They don't have the same underlying conceptual framework or discourse. The organization I worked with, Dharmadhatu Foundation, is a social enterprise that produces Thangkas to raise money for scholarships for rural children."

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Associate professor Lynda Grose (right) with student

In the recently published Christian Science Monitor article "Trendy Threads from Waste," contributing writer Micheal Benanav turned to CCA Fashion Design Program assistant professor Lynda Grose and alumna Karina Michel (BFA 2009) for their expertise in designing with sustainability and economy of resources in mind.

Linda Grose: Industry Specialist & Sustainable Design Consultant

Posted on Friday, February 18, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

From Melissa Wyman's Spring Play, a Fight Therapy performance in Seoul, 2009

Where others see awkwardness, CCA alumna Melissa Wyman (MFA 2008) sees art. Like, those clumsy moments when one guy puts his hand out to shake just as the other guy reaches for a hug. "You can make a big deal out of it, or it can just pass, but you both know it's there," she says. Through her Fight Therapy videos, photographs, and watercolors, Wyman sharpens her eye for "fleeting, candid, unscripted" seconds of embarrassment, anger, or humor.

Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011 by Jim Norrena

Congratulations to fifth-year Architecture students Bret Walters and Duncan Young, who received an honorable mention in the Urban Design Category of the CoARQ Competition, the top-rated international competition for architecture students, for their Atomized Library project.

Posted on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 by Jim Norrena

(film still) Terri, by Azazel Jacobs (2011), 101 min.View slideshow 

Film Program faculty member Julia Shirar (MFA 1997) is the sound designer for Azazel Jacobs's film, Terri, one of 16 films entered into the dramatic competition at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The largest independent cinema festival in the United States, Sundance will take place January 20 through 30 in Park City, Utah.

Posted on Thursday, December 9, 2010 by Jim Norrena

Watch the "Math Propulsion" video

A paper submitted by assistant professor and coauthor Wendy Ju and alum Jason Mickelson (MFA Design 2009) has been accepted by TEI: Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction 2011, which is the fifth international conference dedicated to presenting the latest results in tangible, embedded, and embodied interaction.

Posted on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 by Jason Engelund

Banker White with WeOwnTV at work in Sierra Leone

CCA alumnus Banker White (MFA 2000) is a documentary filmmaker. You may know him as the director of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, about a group of Sierra Leonean musicians who gained international renown and landed a record deal.

Posted on Monday, December 6, 2010 by Jim Norrena

Celebrated German photographer Thomas Demand during visit to CCA [photo: Jim Norrena]

Celebrated German photographer Thomas Demand delivered a lecture at CCA's San Francisco campus November 12, followed by a student-faculty Q&A session.

Demand, born in Munich in 1964, is known for making photographs of 3D models that look like actual depictions of spaces. His photographs often are associated with contemporary political situations.

Demand represented Germany at the Bienal de São Paulo in 2004 and his work was the subject of a midcareer retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2005. He currently lives and works in Berlin.