Before Gianfranco Ocampo embarked on his first trip to Europe this fall as a participant in the Berlin Studio study away program, we sat down for a conversation with the upper-term Graphic Design major. Ocampo loves to travel, and over the years his family in Los Angeles has hosted many exchange students, one of whom in turn hosted Ocampo when he visited Japan for his 18th birthday. Already bilingual (English and Spanish), Ocampo learned to speak Japanese and to cook Japanese food. Confident and outgoing, he’s a people-centric person at home in the role of ambassador. As a peer mentor with the Center for the Student Experience (CSE), he welcomes incoming students to ArtCenter and this year was named president of OutNetwork, ArtCenter’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning, Intersex and Allies (GLBTQIA) student club. The group is dedicated to fostering a multidisciplinary, multigenerational community that shares an interest in the intersection between GLBTQIA identity and the creative arts; members include current students and faculty as well as alumni. For Ocampo, advocating for important causes is integral to his calling as a designer.
Nothing to lose: A conversation with OutNetwork president and graphic design student Gianfranco OcampoMonday, September 21st, 2015
Leap Before You Look: Inside the revealing new exhibition on Black Mountain College, with MOCA curator Helen MolesworthWednesday, May 13th, 2015
“Most people in the room probably know a little something about Black Mountain College, and it’s probably part wrong and part true,” said Helen Molesworth. Relaxed in black sneakers and a loose sweater, the new chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, less than five months into her new job, offered a candid and engaging behind-the-scenes look at her work on a revealing new exhibition about Black Mountain College—the first comprehensive exhibition on the subject to take place in the United States.
The curator’s talk in February, a full year ahead of the exhibition’s opening in L.A., was part of both the Wind Tunnel Lecture Series and Art Center Dialogues. And as she disclosed to her unsuspecting audience at the outset, “You’re the first! I haven’t actually given a Black Mountain talk yet.”
For Molesworth, Black Mountain College’s mythic status—as the birthplace of the neo-avant-garde and the site of legendary collaborations by Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage and Merce Cunningham—has in fact been a problem to overcome, an impediment to a more complete understanding of its history. “It was a place charged in ways that engendered mythmaking from its inception,” she said, “and a lot of that mythmaking was self-generated.” (more…)
Vancouver-born and -based artist Jeff Wall is now living and working part-time in Los Angeles, which is good news for students at Art Center. A capacity crowd filled the L.A. Times Media Center at Hillside Campus last Tuesday night, eager to hear what he had to say.
Jack Bankowsky, who co-curates the popular Grad Art Seminar series with fellow faculty member Walead Beshty, introduced Wall, and reminded the audience of three of his works—opaque black and white prints—that are set in Los Angeles: Citizen (1996), a man lying on the lawn in a public park; 8056 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles (1996), a cinema-turned-synagogue, framed in a circular black vignette; and Office Hallway, Spring Street, Los Angeles (1997), a man in a dimly lit, nondescript hallway.
Spring term brings the next exciting installment in a long-running annual lecture series endowed by the Toyota Motor Company. This year, Art Center Dialogues highlights influential leaders in creative fields and also explores what leading creatively means.
Confirmed speakers include Valerie Casey, head of the Samsung Accelerator; Helen Molesworth, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; Harriet Rubin, Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow and author, consultant and lecturer on leadership trends;
Dede Gardner, President of Plan B Entertainment and producer of the films 12 Years A Slave, The Normal Heart and Selma; and Jessica Yellin, former Chief White House correspondent for CNN.
“Leaders in art, film, business and design practices, our speakers have changed both the questions we ask and the solutions we might find when it comes to thinking about 21st-century culture,” says Humanities and Sciences (H&S) Chair Jane McFadden, who curates the series. “We have invited them to inspire thoughtful discussion and broaden perspectives by engaging with our community across a variety of educational platforms, including lectures, panel discussions, workshops and collaborative endeavors.”
The Art Center Dialogues series kicks off February 4. Schedule and location details are at the bottom of this post. Admission is free and open to the public and to our campus community, and reservations are not required.
Cloud 9 formation: Environmental Design students draw inspiration from nature and Buckminster Fuller for innovative pavilion on Spain’s Costa BravaWednesday, January 14th, 2015
Cloud 9, an award-winning Barcelona-based firm known for its dynamic, cutting-edge architecture, has collaborated with Art Center’s Environmental Design Department to design and fabricate a work/play pavilion for a residential site located on Spain’s Costa Brava.
Students from multiple disciplines were challenged to create an innovative structure that would draw inspiration from the local environment (a Mediterranean hillside amid tall pine trees), integrate new media, and become a case study for future projects. Cloud 9 director Enric Ruiz-Geli, imbued by Buckminster Fuller’s interest in natural geometry and parametric design, gave students their brief in February 2013 and followed up with regular visits as the project progressed. Concepts were developed and prototyped at the College’s Hillside Campus in Pasadena before being implemented at the site in Spain.
Art Center president (and theater director) offers expert advice to creatives upping their presentation skillsMonday, January 12th, 2015
It’s a chilly Wednesday morning in late November, and it’s showtime for a dozen students in Petrula Vrontikis’ Creative Presentations and Critiques class. Gathered in semi-darkness in the nearly empty Ahmanson Auditorium, they are joined by a few invited guests, among them Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman.
For their end-of-term critique, the 12 students will present 15 images for 15 seconds each—an abbreviated PechaKucha. Standing alone on stage and narrating their slideshows without a script, the students have all been given the same assignment, to trace their own individual journeys as artists and designers. For six of them, today is a rehearsal; for the rest, this presentation will be their final. Some are more nervous than others.
Drawing on a diverse array of fields, Art Center’s Environmental Design Master of Science program — led by Department Chair David Mocarski — investigates the dynamic qualities of story-driven design, combining conceptual rigor and theoretical thinking with professional practice and a focus on technical innovation, manufacturing, fabrication and project execution. Three recent graduates are redefining the future of the environments we inhabit on a daily basis, as their visionary thesis projects demonstrate.
Hines Fischer: “Soft Working” office furniture system
For many years the office has been designed around accommodating the desktop computer. Office furniture’s job was to support the tools of the office and their use. But as technology has become more integrated, Hines Fischer (MS 14) believes that the most important thing for office furniture to support is people. The workspace should encourage and nurture people’s interactions, collaborations and ideas.
It’s a concept Fischer calls “Soft Working,” which is the name he gave to a line of furniture he designed as a grad student in Environmental Design’s Furniture and Fixtures track. His concept began with the observation that traditional office environments are formal, emotionally sterile, even forbidding. The meeting room is one place that the office community typically comes together, but — usually centered around a giant table — it too can feel alienating.
Because today’s businesses want their employees collaborating, innovating and working together — to be less of a staff and more of a family — Fischer saw that what the “family room” is to the home, the meeting room could be to the office: a comforting space that encourages interaction, community, mental clarity and openness.
Through its innovative use of form, color and texture, including wood and natural fabrics, Soft Working reinvents the modern office, improving human connection, workflow and productivity.
The Environmental Design program provides students high-level opportunities to engage directly with industry, including the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, North America’s premier annual showcase for contemporary design, where Fischer presented his work two years in a row.
William Shin: “Vertical Farm” mixed-use high-rise
Master’s candidates in the Spatial Experience track look beyond the single object, moment or place to see how collectively these make an impact in projects ranging from branded retail and theme-driven dining, to hospitality, exhibition and residential design. Issues and methodologies of sustainable design are integrated throughout the curriculum.
While a graduate student, William Shin (MS 14) noticed a 21st-century trend toward cities coexisting in greater harmony with nature and the environment. As urban populations increase around the world, the pursuit of different lifestyles in those cities is also increasing. As environment-friendly lifestyles and locovore food culture take root in cities, green spaces and gardens are becoming increasingly important. Already many city dwellers and even commercial restaurants are growing their own vegetables and fruits.
Stepping into role of “conductor,” Shin orchestrated a set of spatial ideas around these emerging realities. His thesis project boldly re-envisions the urban neighborhood in the form of a “Vertical Farm” — a space that combines residential, agricultural, business, educational and leisure activities within a single structure. Centered around organic food production, spaces also foster research and learning, the coming together of families and neighbors, and the pursuit of healthy activities.
Shuning Li: “Pinporium” retail platform
What’s next? is the driving question behind much of the exploratory and experimental work underway in our studios. Our graduate students see themselves as proactive opportunity seekers in the creative process, ideating and collaborating across disciplines, platforms and cultures.
Inspired by Pinterest, the popular online visual discovery tool used to collect and share ideas, Shuning Li (MS 14) designed “Pinporium” as a dynamic retail platform. More than simply a store, the project proposes an entirely new business model for the retail industry in the digital age. Supported by advanced technology, virtual community, and a focus on interactivity and flexibility, the Pinterest-branded emporium-style retail spaces envisioned by Li in her thesis project would engage and inspire users with a customized shopping experience based on their Pinterest user data and preferences.
In Li’s concept, “pinning” becomes a more powerful act than merely bookmarking and sharing images. Online and offline platforms converge to create dynamic, adaptive spaces that promise more interactivity between shoppers and sellers and significant potential to bring new life to physical stores, with lasting social and economic impact.
To learn more about Art Center’s graduate and undergraduate programs, check out the new 2015–2016 Viewbook.
Remember when you were shopping around for college? You were likely deluged with thick catalogs and eye-catching viewbooks sent by institutions vying for your attention. Even in the internet era, the printed viewbook remains a vital tool for communicating a school’s value proposition to prospective students—especially when it comes to art and design schools.
Art Center’s 2015–2016 Viewbook, showcasing student work in 11 undergraduate and six graduate degree programs, was published in September, both in print and online. Content and design for the biennial publication are developed by a core team of Marketing and Communications staff members, in collaboration with Kit Baron, senior vice president, Admissions and Enrollment Management, and the College’s Provost Fred Fehlau.
High-quality visuals are key to the Viewbook, which this year features contributions from photographer Stella Kalinina (BFA 13), commissioned to capture student life on campus and in classrooms. It was a large and complex project, one that Stella was well prepared for as a recent graduate of the College’s Photography and Imaging program, with its emphasis on technical and professional skills along with creative expression. (more…)