Ready to lead in an unexpected world

Image courtesy Mana Koike

Image courtesy Mana Koike

“Although you’re entering a very different world from the one you expected, it’s a world that needs you.”
— Author Caitlan Flanagan, in the first of a series of commencement addresses commissioned for the Class of 2020 by  The Atlantic

It has been a final term like no other. If you are graduating today,  you have completed college during a global pandemic. Your graduation ceremony and grad show will be different than what you imagined when you left for break in December, 2019.  You won’t be walking across the stage or taking pictures outside with beaming parents at your side. There might be hugging and crying and flowers and balloons, but you won’t be with your peers and it won’t be the same. But we hope you remember this as a time when you adapted to change, pivoting in a heartbeat from making together to joining classes by Zoom. You coped, you figured it out and you got it done. Today we celebrate you virtually at our first-ever Zoom commencement ceremony—you will be connected to friends, family, faculty, staff and alumni. People who otherwise would not have been able to make the journey to Pasadena will be attending your graduation. And you are sharing this special moment with college and university students around the globe—you will forever be connected as the Class of 2020, being toasted by many, including celebrities from Oprah to Jimmy Fallon to Hillary Clinton and more, who are preparing words of wisdom to share with you in virtual commencement addresses.

Spring 2020 Commencement is online. Join us for the ceremony 
via Zoom and Grad Show following, ArtCenter Grad Show

This is different. You are different. The world is different. But we want to assure you that you are ready. At ArtCenter, we teach you to be creative thinkers, to be problem solvers and to step forward and lead when called to do so. You can do this; we are all counting on you.

As we join together at graduation this morning, we will be celebrating each and every one of you. You are all unbelievably creative, hardworking, talented and prepared for whatever lies ahead. As is customary, we recognize those of you who are graduating with honors or distinction, those who have also earned a minor, those of you who started your studies at ArtCenter in high school, in ArtCenter for Teens classes, including one of you who began even earlier in ArtCenter for Kids, and those of you who are veterans of the Armed Forces.

You will hear from two of your peers, Valedictorian Jacki Li and the Spring 2020 Student Leadership Award winner Mana Koike.

STUDENT LEADERSHIP AWARD

The Student Leadership Award, bestowed on one graduating student each term, doesn’t come with a stipend, scholarship grant or new car but it is considered a distinguished honor. What sets this award apart from other achievements is that it recognizes efforts that are extracurricular. It allows us as an institution to say thank you to students who have devoted time to improve the ArtCenter community—time that is taken away from course work, personal obligations or rest.

The Student Leadership Award fulfills ArtCenter’s vision of educating artists and designers who are not only leaders within their professional fields, but also leaders in their communities. Each term, the College reaches out to the campus population for nominations from peers, faculty and staff. A committee selects the student who most demonstrates leadership through their participation in ArtCenter’s campus life, community outreach, student organizations and department initiatives.

As always, the selection committee was faced with a difficult choice in selecting the award winner. All nominees contributed to the ArtCenter community in myriad ways and also boasted impressive community service resumes. This term’s eight nominees include five women and three men, one graduate student, Advertising, Environmental Design, Graphic Design, Fine Art and Product Design were all represented among the nominees. The nominees came from India, Indonesia, Japan Vietnam, Korea and the United States. Three will graduate with distinction, two with honors and four have satisfied the requirements for a Minor in Social Innovation.

We would like to introduce you to these remarkable people.

The Winner

Product Design graduate Mana Koike, graduating with honors, a minor in Designmatters and as the Spring 2020 Student Leadership Award recipient, grew up splitting her time between Tokyo and Boston. She was recognized for her willingness to take on challenges of increasing responsibility and growing as a designer and leader during her time at ArtCenter. On campus, she worked on the Summer 2018 initiative that encouraged graduates to reduce waste and make smart materials choices in creating, installing and removing their grad show exhibits. Following the advice of then department chair, now Provost, Karen Hofmann, Mana joined a Designmatters study away program in Shanghai China, where she was hailed as a true leader by organizers and an advocate of the program on her return to campus. Mana credits her participation in the Portland Footwear Design program with teaching her to “manage up, manage down, manage around.” There, she experienced the challenges of leading a team, ultimately steering the multidisciplinary group to create high-level concepts to present to professional designers in the athletic industry. Returning to campus, she recalls, “I was a completely different person in the best possible way and I shared my excitement and gratitude in info sessions, where I spoke about my personal growth and encouraged others to not be afraid of taking risks.”

Described as being respectful of others and sensitive to the nuances within a group or with individual, faculty members observed Mana’s peers and teammates looking to her for direction and leadership. Serving as a teaching assistant and peer mentor, she dedicated time inside and outside the classroom to help her fellow students find their true voice,

Mana has dreamed of becoming a designer since she was ten years old. “Now,” she says, “thanks to ArtCenter, I’ve become more than just a designer. I’ve become a critical thinker, an empathetic team player and a confident leader.”

The Nominees

“Though I believe leadership means being able to take responsibility, hear the voices of others and collaborate with those other voices in achieving set goals,” remarked nominee Patrick Kim, “I’ve also come to realize that not knowing what you’re doing while leading is OK too. Hesitance, uncertainty and ambivalence are all part of a process of understanding the self and understanding the complications that come with the self to grow stronger as an individual.”

A third-generation Korean-American, Fine Art graduate Patrick Kim, graduating with distinction, found himself at ArtCenter. Arriving on campus anxious, closeted and fearful, he felt welcomed and accepted by his Orientation leaders and the support he found here gave him the courage to come out to his family, who were also supportive and loving. Embracing the love and acceptance he found at ArtCenter, Patrick became deeply involved in student government, spearheading a number of efforts to improve the student experience on campus, culminating in his participation in Orientation as a leader and mentor for others, providing the same warm, accepting welcome to others that he received.

Coming to ArtCenter from Bombay, India, Graduate Graphic Design Masters candidate Angad Singh, described as “such a beautiful and bright soul” who “rarely goes unnoticed because of the energy he brings to everyone around him,” spread sunshine on the fifth floor of the 1111 building for three years as he studied, served as an assistant in the department office and worked as a teaching assistant. Reflecting on his experience, he notes, “I found that helping others achieve what they wish to achieve has been as fulfilling as accomplishing my own goals.”

For first-generation American Patrick Nguyen, being accepted into UC Berkeley with plans to pursue a degree in mathematics, was a dream come true, not only for him, but also for his parents, who fled Vietnam for the United States at the end of the Vietnam war. His creative spirit, however, was too strong and he cut short his studies at Berkeley to take art and design classes, building his portfolio. “ArtCenter has an incredibly special place in my heart,” he explained, “it is the place that allowed me to truly express myself as an individual.” Following his father’s example of dedicating himself to his community, while at ArtrCenterv Patrick served as an Admissions Ambassador, Orientation Leader, Teaching Assistant and as President of the Student Body.

Coming from Indonesia, Environmental Design graduate Amanda Sutanto, who will be graduating with honors and a minor in Social Innovation, struggled with culture shock as she adjusted to a new country and the rigors and demands of an ArtCenter education. Her experience gave her the desire to help others and she joined with friends to create an Indonesian event on to share her culture with the community and connect with other Indonesians. “Through my journey at ArtCenter, I learned to embrace my struggles by being compassionate with my community, constantly willing to step out of my comfort zone, and challenging the norms,” she declared, “these experiences transformed me into a better leader and person. I am able to create by understanding and lead with empathy.”

She is described by faculty as being exceptionally diligent, driven and talented, and simultaneously collaborative, caring and compassionate. Her commitment to social change and improving everyday life was lauded and one faculty member stated simply, “she is one of the most hard-working and creative students I’ve had the pleasure to meet.”

With a smile and a warm greeting, Jessica Lauer (who will be receiving a degree in Environmental Design with honors and a minor in Social Innovation) sought out to lift the mood of everyone she encountered on campus. Entering ArtCenter as a quiet person who lacked confidence, she noticed a lot of glum faces her first day on campus. She made a conscious decision that day to acknowledge every person she encountered with a warm smile and friendly greeting. She credits this decision with changing the course of her ArtCenter experience, and perhaps in turn, her life. Her friendly attitude ensured that she got to know and become develop relationships with students ifrom other departments, as well as faculty and staff. Immersing herself in the ArtCenter experience, she worked in the Center for the Student Experience (CSE), served as the Environmental Design department representative on student government, and participated in a Study Abroad experience in Japaa problem or need and then taking charge of the solution. Jessica saw a community that was not connected and stressed out and she set out to change that one smile at a time. In the process, she made important relationships that motivated her to push herself and, as she says it, “because of ArtCenter, I have become more of the confident designer and person I have always wanted to be.”

Driven, but with a “quixotic and jovial spirit,” is how Advertising graduate Breauna Abiad, describes herself, “at the end of each term, I’d finish strong with my name on the Provost’s List, work up in the gallery and hungry for a new challenge.” She became involved in Designmatters, participated in Testlab in Berlin, worked as a teaching assistant and, served at the lead Speaker Coordinator for the entirely student-produced TEDx event. It was during this time period that she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease that can be debilitating at times. Breauna suffered her most serious flare-up during the preparation for TEDx, landing her in the hospital and out of school for a week. She returned the following week to lead her team. “Ultimately, my battle with ulcerative colitis has taught me how to punch through what feels heavy and gives me the power to find a light that will always help lead others home.” Breauna graduates today with distinction and a Minor in Social Innovation.

Tricia Sada will be graduating with honors, a minor Social Innovation and a degree in Product Design today. She served as president of the ArtCenter Christian Fellowship and founded two other student groups. She also worked as an Orientation leader, peer mentor, teaching assistant, admissions student worker, represented both Product Design and Designmatters at ArtCenter’s Open House, volunteered with the Career and Professional Development department, participated in three sponsored projects, traveled to and studied in Singapore and Portland and completed two internships and one Designstorm. Students who wrote in support of her nomination for this award describe Tricia as someone who is engaged and involved but “never lets her achievements crowd out her sense of kindness for others.”

ArtCenter thanks and congratulates all the nominees for their commitment and dedication to making the College a more compassionate, transformative and life-changing environment for all of us.

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Making lemonade—Summer term at ArtCenter

Photo:  Juan Posada

Photo: Juan Posada

You’ve heard the adage, “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The ArtCenter community is made up of lemonade makers, who have proven ready to take on new challenges and make the most of unexpected opportunities. With the global pandemic necessitating remote teaching and learning for the Summer term, the College stepped up to the challenge and is offering something truly unique, designed specifically designed to take advantage of teaching in these unusual times.

ArtCenter chairs and faculty have been hard at work getting ready for a Summer term unlike any other. In true ArtCenter fashion, they’ve responded to our new digital reality with exuberant creativity, boundless innovation and a challenge to students to join them in reinventing the classroom experience. They’ve retooled our traditional course offerings and humanities classes, and reimagined our , with an eye toward developing vital works of art and design, and engaging creative individuals from across the globe in response to the world’s most pressing needs.

One unexpected benefit of the current global crisis is that people working in the industry who used to be too busy or too far away are now available for guest lectures and workshops. This Summer our department chairs and faculty are going to demonstrate just how impressive and wide-reaching their networks are.

Chairs, faculty and educational leaders are eager to share elements of the College’s updated curriculum with you— you can find words of encouragement and insights into Summer courses and programming from academic leadership across all majors on our YouTube channel and our other social media platforms.

We have also found, during this period of online classes during the latter part of the Spring term, that online courses have some unique advantages (crits from the comfort of your chair!) and students have been happy to learn the ins and outs of presenting via video conference, a skill many will need when working.

Lastly, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the financial incentive—every student enrolled full time in the degree program during the Summer term will receive a $3,000 tuition grant. This grant supplements any other aid students receive. In addition, the $330 access fee wil be waived for the Summer term.

We’re looking forward to a Summer 2020 term that strengthens our community and leverages our creativity toward influencing positive change within the College, city and far beyond.

You can find information about courses and registration on Inside ArtCenter. Please direct specific questions about courses to your department leaders.

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Get involved—join a club

2020 Clubs and Organizations Fair. Photo: Juan Posada

2020 Clubs and Organizations Fair. Photo: Juan Posada

There are 23 registered clubs and organizations for the Spring 2020 semester! Getting involved in clubs gives you an opportunity to meet and work with students from other majors, develop a support network and get involved or have fun outside the classroom. Last term, the Hackathon Club had a great time at SDHacks in San Diego and Eco+ participated in the Global Climate Strike, for example.

From trips to dinners to creating community, clubs and organizations range from academic to faith-based to sports and more. They meet regularly and sponsor programs and events on and off-campus that are open to all students. Here’s the complete list for this term. You can find out more details, including club officers and meeting times on the Student Clubs and Organizations page on Inside ArtCenter.

Animated Film Screening Club

The Antiracist Classroom

ArtCenter Branding Atelier 

ArtCenter Cha Club

Chinese Student Association

ArtCenter Christian Fellowship

Club Yo: Japanese Organization

Did You Eat? ArtCenter’s Filipino Club

ECO+ 

Fire Club 

Gearhead Society 

Graphic Design Social Club

Hackathon Club 

Korean Club

Money Club

ACCD Musicians Club

OutCenter

Permias ArtCenter 

Plein People

A.C.R.C ArtCenter Running Club

ACCD Ski & Snowboard Club

TANG Soccer Club

Tennis Club

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Change Lab Podcast: Design Ethics for the Digital Age

helfandSubscribers to Change Lab, the College’s podcast hosted by President Lorne Buchman, have come to expect deep, thoughtful conversations that offer insight into the genesis of a creative leader. These conversations are also often profoundly revealing as both host and guests explore examine how their personal experiences shape who they are.

The sixth season of the show kicked off last week with an appropriately timely and trenchant conversation with Jessica Helfand, author, academic and a true renaissance woman of the design world.

“I’ve admired Jessica Helfand for many years, and it was a complete joy to interview her for Change Lab. She offers a special blend of mind and heart, and I learned much from her deep insight and wisdom. This is a must listen,” tweeted Buchman.

Helfand is a prolific author whose latest book, Face: A Visual Odyssey, was recently featured on the “new and noteworthy” list of the New York Times. She co-founded the Design Observer, an authoritative digital publication on the state of visual culture and an oracle of wise and thoughtful discourse on design. She also co-hosts two podcasts: The Observatory and The Design of Business/The Business of Design. In all aspects of her work and writing, Helfand asks profound questions about creative practice and forces us to challenge our assumptions in several important ways.

Helfand has taught design at Yale University, her alma mater, since 1996. She currently serves as the second ever Artist in Residence at Caltech, where we recorded her teaching design to a class of engineers and scientists. Throughout this fascinating conversation, Helfand provided cogent insights into social media’s impact on the next generation of designers as well as a very moving sense of the ways in which personal experience invariably shapes creative practice.

“A great privilege to talk to someone so intellectually and emotionally generous. Podcasts hosts, take note! We should all be as gracious as Dr. Buchman,” wrote Helfand on Twitter.

Change Lab offers listeners a rare opportunity to eavesdrop on intimate conversations of accomplished, compassionate individuals who are willing to examine themselves in order to better understand how they can contribute to a better future—listen and subscribe here.

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Caldecott winner and alum Dan Santat’s advice for Illustration students

Dan Santat adding his mark to Beekle at the Alumni Center

Dan Santat adding his mark to Beekle at the Alumni Center

Caldecott winner, #1 New York Times best-selling author, creator of Beekle, and ArtCenter alum, Dan Santat (BFA 01 Illustration) stopped by the Alumni Center recently to sign a copy of Beekle and mingle with Alumni Relations staff.

From the @artcenter_alumnetwork Instagram post about his visit:

We asked [Dan] what advice he would give illustration students today.

  1. Take a basic typography or lettering class.
    He’s been flexing those lettering skills in all his books; gives him an edge over the competition.
  2. Take one basic advertising class.
    Roland Young (BFA 61 ADVT) gave him some of the best advice—“He would ask us, ‘Why are you trying to be flashy? If you’re a style, then people will hire you for your style. What you really want to be is formless. You want to be known as a person that has great ideas.’”
  3. Take a basic graphic design class.
  4. Take the history of illustration class—how can you not know your history?
  5. Take a Design 1 class with Bruce Claypool (BFA 76 Graphic Design) @claypoolbruce.
Dan Santat poses with Beekle in the Alumni Center

Dan Santat poses with Beekle in the Alumni Center

Follow the @artcenter_alumnetwork Instagram account to find out more about alumni gatherings and events

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Lecture and Screening auditorium gets a makeover

Photo by Juan Posada

Photo by Juan Posada

The Los Angeles Times Media Center (fondly referred to as the LAT), a popular lecture and screening event venue, received a welcome upgrade over the winter break. We replaced the carpet and chairs and we think it’s looking pretty fresh. Thanks go to Campus Planning and Facilities and Media Services.

Slip into a new comfy seat at one of these events on tap in the coming weeks in the LAT:

1950s Comic Book Love Stories with Captured Aural Phantasy Theater
Monday, February 10, 2020
7–10 p.m.

Graduate Art Seminar: Aram Moshayedi presents Tishan Hsu
Tuesday, February 04, 2020
7:30 pm

Thomas Mueller, Fjord Trends: Presentations and Workshop
Trend Presentation: Realigning the Fundamentals
Wednesday, Feb 12,
7-8:30 p.m.

Animation Outlaws Screening with Kat Alioshin
Monday, February 24, 2020
7–10 p.m.

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President’s message: Syd Mead (1933–2019)

Syd Mead signing books at Car Classic 2014. Photo: Alexandra Wyman

Syd Mead signing books at Car Classic 2014. Photo: Alexandra Wyman

From President Lorne Buchman—

As you may have heard, ArtCenter alumnus and visual futurist Syd Mead passed away from lymphoma on the morning of December 30, 2019. As we return to campus at the onset of a new Spring term, I wanted to acknowledge his passing and to recognize the lasting impact he had on the Entertainment industry and on our own community.

Syd graduated from ArtCenter with a bachelor’s degree in Transportation Design in 1959. While he got his start in the automotive industry, Syd is best known for his work on such unforgettable films as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner, Tron, Aliens and Mission: Impossible III, to name a few. Syd coined the term “visual futurist” to describe his transcendent work as a concept designer and how he interpreted our collective future, whether a dystopian landscape or an idyllic utopia.

We are grateful that Syd remained an active part of our alumni community, returning to campus several times throughout the years as a guest speaker, to host book signings or participate in events like Car Classic (pictured above signing books at Car Classic 2014). He was always very generous with his time and admirably dedicated to the needs of our students.

I was saddened to learn of Syd’s passing but am heartened by the fact that his legacy will live on through his work and through future generations of artists and designers. I am incredibly proud to count him among our alumni and celebrate his long association with the College.

ArtCenter is in early conversations to host an event that celebrates his impact and legacy as a visual futurist. We will provide further information as the event takes shape.

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Miranda Lapour, our Fall 2019 Student Leadership Award winner, is ready to start a design revolution

 

Photo by Juan Posada
Photo by Juan Posada

“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”—Harriet Tubman

Graduating from ArtCenter is no mean feat—everyone who satisfies our degree requirements has done much more than earned the necessary credits. They have collaborated with students from other disciplines, learned to give and accept critique, became leaders and colleagues, and they have both failed and excelled. They have become storytellers, problem solvers and makers. They are thoughtful, prepared, dedicated, driven and extraordinarily talented and creative.

This Friday, December 20, we will celebrate with these hard-working, probably exhausted, individuals as they receive their degrees. During each graduation ceremony, we also take the time to recognize a number of beyond-the-degree student achievements—students who began their ArtCenter careers in one of our Extension programs, graduates who are veterans of the armed services, those who graduate with honors or distinction, and those who have completed the requirements for a minor.

We reserve special recognition for two individuals from every graduating class—the graduate with the top academic achievement, who serves as the class valedictorian, and the individual who is the recipient of the Student Leadership Award. We ask both of these graduates to address their peers at the graduation ceremony. This term, graduates, along with their friends and family, will hear from valedictorian Dillon King (Graphic Design) and Student Leadership Award recipient Miranda Lapour (Product Design).

STUDENT LEADERSHIP AWARD
The Student Leadership Award, bestowed on one graduating student each term, doesn’t come with a stipend, scholarship grant or new car but it is considered a distinguished honor. What sets this award apart from other achievements is that it recognizes efforts that are extracurricular. It allows us as an institution to say thank you to students who have devoted time to improve the ArtCenter community—time that is taken away from course work, personal obligations or rest.

The Student Leadership Award fulfills ArtCenter’s vision of educating artists and designers who are not only leaders within their professional fields, but also leaders in their communities. Each term, the College reaches out to the campus population for nominations from peers, faculty and staff. A committee selects the student who most demonstrates leadership through their participation in ArtCenter’s campus life, community outreach, student organizations and department initiatives.

THE WINNER
Product Design graduate Miranda Lapour attributes her deeply held values to her Midwestern heritage. Growing up in South Dakota she learned to care for her community, respect larger natural systems and work with purpose and grit. Recently, Miranda told Voyage magazine, “My background is my backbone, as I hold on to my values like treasures I’ve picked up along the way. This drives my ethics, and they drive the work I’m so happy to do.” Miranda’s passion is working towards creating a sustainable future for the planet—she has big plans to solve big problems.

Continue reading

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Life at Waymo: Designing a new transportation reality

Image courtesy of Waymo

Image courtesy of Waymo

This Fall term, one of the College’s sponsored projects was a partnership with Waymo, the company that started as Google’s self-driving car project. Two seventh term students who participated in the class, Nancy Tsai, Product Design and Joseph Robinson, Transportation Design, wrote about their experiences for Waymo’s blog, Waypoint, re-posted here with permission.

For the project, Waymo asked us to share our ideas on several forms of transportation, including trucks, cars, or even an entirely new form of transportation, and how people could interact with the Waymo Driver on those platforms. Through the process, the Waymo team encouraged us to think unconventionally, reminding us that we shouldn’t be afraid to propose radical ideas and not to fall back on traditional methods used in car design.

We had both heard of Waymo before the project, mostly in articles covering self-driving vehicles, but it wasn’t until Waymo released their Firefly prototype that people started talking more about how driverless cars might be designed. So, when we signed up to join the project with Waymo, we were excited to see what the team was looking for from ArtCenter students, as well as curious and eager to see how our backgrounds would be valuable to them.

ArtCenter Students at Waymo’s HQ. Image courtesy of Waymo

ArtCenter Students at Waymo’s HQ. Image courtesy of Waymo

Our semester began with a visit to Waymo’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, where we experienced Waymo’s self-driving technology and met with representatives from across the company. They each provided us with a wide variety of insights and helped us understand the different facets to consider when designing the Waymo Driver. For example, the engineers emphasized how the sensor suite should be tailored for each platform, taking into consideration their varying dimensions and characteristics. Meanwhile, the branding team wanted to maintain a consistent brand aesthetic across all platforms.

To tackle this challenge, our instructors paired us in groups of four with students from distinct majors ranging from user experience and brand strategy to transportation and product design. Working within a diverse team challenged us to collaborate toward a common goal despite coming from different disciplines, helping us tell a larger design story than we usually do in a strictly industrial design-focused project.

ArtCenter students presenting their midterms to Waymo’s Head of Design, YJ Ahn. Image courtesy of Waymo

ArtCenter students presenting their midterms to Waymo’s Head of Design, YJ Ahn. Image courtesy of Waymo

It was a huge learning experience to balance multiple stakeholders’ unique needs while simultaneously applying one main idea to all the individual aspects of a vehicle. Each component has their own attributes but must communicate a clear, consistent message to the user.

Nancy brainstorming ideas for her project.  Image courtesy of Waymo

Nancy brainstorming ideas for her project. Image courtesy of Waymo

The design of the future of transportation is wide open. While it’s hard to predict how transportation will develop, we believe it will not just be about improving today’s transportation, but also about tapping into a new reality.

— Nancy Tsai and Joseph Robinson

NOTE:
Spring 2020 Sponsored Projects include: Make Metals Work—Metal Finishing Association of Southern California (MFASC), Designing for Mental Wellness among Cancer Patients—Blue Note TherapeuticsLife Without Plastic—Newell BrandsB2B and B2C Branding and Packaging with Sustainable Solutions—SIG and Curating the Run Experience – Under Armour. For more information and information about enrolling in these classes, refer to the Spring 2020 Open Electives and TDS Guide. For more information about Sponsored Projects, visit the Educational Partnerships website or contact Meredith.Madnick@artcenter.edu.

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Paint can from Keith Haring’s visit to ArtCenter 30 years ago gifted to College

© Steven A. Heller/ArtCenter College of Design (Pasadena, Calif).

© Steven A. Heller/ArtCenter College of Design (Pasadena, Calif).

The Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) invites the community to celebrate and reflect on Haring’s impact on the College and world at large on Monday, December 2, from 11 am – 2 pm, in the lobby outside the library, where the paint can will be making its on-campus debut. 

Thirty years ago, prolific artist and social activist Keith Haring visited ArtCenter and, over the course of two days, painted the mural that graces the stairwell across from the library on our Hillside Campus. Intended serve as a “permanent memorial to members of the art community who have died of AIDS and as a symbol of hope and compassion,” the mural was completed as part of the first-ever Day Without Art, held in conjunction with the second annual World AIDS Day (then called AIDS Awareness Day). Haring’s mural also serves as a memorial tribute to the artist himself, who passed away two months later from AIDS-related complications.

We celebrate Haring, his memory and his contributions both to ArtCenter and the world at large every December 1 and, over the years, we have learned more about him and his visit to our Campus. In 2013, we sent out a call to our community to search for lost video footage of his visit and we were rewarded in 2015 when, following a tip, we tracked down Photography alum Hadi Salehi, who had recently digitized his Super8 video of Haring painting at ArtCenter. An edited version of the video is currently playing on the College monitors, leading up to World AIDS Day this December 1.

Haring’s mural served as inspiration for OUTSIDE/IN: The Ascendance of Street Art in Visual Culture, a group exhibition that spanned both campuses and resulted in two new murals on our South Campus, RISK’s color explosion that covers the north wall of the Graduate Art Complex and the unmistakably Kenny Scharf mural that adorns the elevator shaft atop the 950 building. Providing another connection, Scharf and Haring were lifelong friends, having met in New York when they were both art students.

Haring’s visit to the College was covered by the Los Angeles Times and noted in the New York Times. People who were there remember watching him paint as an experience of a lifetime.

One of those people was then student Doug Aitken, now a renowned artist in his own right whose multimedia work challenges and experiments with how art relates with the viewer—sharing with street artists the concept of bringing art to the people.

An alum (BFA 91), Aitken was recently honored by the College when he was chosen as this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. At the Alumni Awards dinner, Aitken reflected on how, as a student, he was asked to assist artist and activist Keith Haring while he painted a mural at the College. “As a parting gift, Keith gave Doug his leftover paint cans—one of which Doug’s mother recently found in their garage. Doug, in turn, gave the paint can back to ArtCenter during the celebration,” relates Marketing and Communications’ Jered Gold, who adds that the College is exploring ways to display the paint can near the mural itself.

Haring’s mural is part of our daily lives—it is one of the most memorable spaces on campus, it is fondly remembered by alumni, it’s a meeting place, an Instagram backdrop and a reminder of the power of art. It’s by any measure one of the College’s treasures.

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