Author Archive

Nailing it: Grad students pioneer wearable tech’s entree into quantified manicures

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Handiwork courtesy of the team behind the Sensor Salon

Handiwork courtesy of the team behind the Sensor Salon

Fresh from wowing a tough techie crowd at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, Media Design Practices grad students Kristina Ortega and Jennifer Rodenhouse give us the lowdown on their novel nail salon concept that turns fingernails into a dynamic digital platform. The duo first hatched the idea for a “Sensor Salon” in a Wearable Ecologies class sponsored by Intel and led by MDP faculty members Philip van Allen and Ben Hooker. Now it’s taken flight, attracting interest in the field as well as a flurry of media attention,  from public radio to Fast Company and Geekwire among other outlets. Their Wearable Services—proffering technologies embedded in nail gels, from LCD screens and 3D printed objects to GPS and haptic feedback devices—may well be fashioning the future.

The Dotted Line: What was your main inspiration for this unusual type of wearable device?

Kristina Ortega: We were really inspired by nail art culture and nail art salons in Los Angeles. During our initial research into the current state of wearable tech we noticed that many devices were one size fits all. This seemed in such stark contrast to this process of self-maintenance we saw with nail art and salon culture, which is all about the process of personalization.


Change Maker: Remembering Chavez Ravine photographer Don Normark

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Don Normark (BFA 49) was a 19-year-old Photography student at Art Center College of Design, taking pictures near the freeway in Los Angeles one day, when a neighborhood high on a distant hillside caught his eye. Normark’s curiosity drew him to Chavez Ravine, an intact rural enclave of hundreds of Mexican-American families, and his love and compassion for the community kept him coming back. His 1948–49 photographs of Chavez Ravine became an in-depth document of a soon-to-be-lost world—a painful chapter in LA’s history culminating in the construction of Dodger Stadium in the 1950s. The work was largely unknown until 2003 when Chronicle Books published Chavez Ravine: 1949, along with former residents’ memories collected by the photographer.

Normark, who lived in Seattle, passed away on June 5 at age 86 following a battle with lung cancer, leaving a legacy of elegiac and iconic images that capture the transitory character of Los Angeles with uncommon sensitivity and resonance. His contributions have elicited an outpouring of recognition for his singular contribution to LA’s photographic history, including this moving obituary in the Los Angeles Times.


Designmatters and Aspen Institute examine the social, creative and economic impact of the new culture of ‘intrapreneurs’

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Mariana Amatullo speaking at Desigmnatters' Leap Symposium on the New Professional Frontier in Design For Social Innovation." Photo by Alex Aristei

Designmatters’ Mariana Amatullo opening the Leap Symposium: The New Professional Frontier in Design for Social Innovation. Photo ©2013 Alex Aristei for LEAP

This week the Aspen Institute launched a new series of essays on the growing importance of social intrapreneurs — change-agents within organizations large and small who are fusing business success with positive social and environmental impacts — and the value they are adding to their organizations and society. To kick off the series, the Institute, in collaboration with The Huffington Post, published the following piece by Mariana Amatullo, co-founder and vice president of Designmatters at Art Center College of Design.

Safir BellaliThe Institute also named 2001 Art Center alumnus Safir Bellali, Design Innovation director for Vans, to its incoming class of 2014 First Movers Fellows. Each fellow will tackle a project that will have a positive financial, social and environmental impact on both their company and society. Bellali, who maintains close ties with the College though his participation in critiques and hiring student interns, will explore how new manufacturing technologies will allow Vans to work toward bringing production back to the United States. In Fall 2014, Vans will sponsor a Designmatters/Product Design studio at Art Center.


“Hiroshi Sugimoto: Past Tense,” four decades of alum’s work at the Getty Museum through June 8

Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Polar Bear, 1976, Hiroshi Sugimoto, gelatin silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council. © Hiroshi Sugimoto

Polar Bear, 1976, Hiroshi Sugimoto, gelatin silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council.
© Hiroshi Sugimoto

Long interested in the “re” part of representation, Hiroshi Sugimoto has, since the 1970s, used photography to investigate how history pervades the present. His first photographs, made while still in high school, captured film footage of Audrey Hepburn as it played in a movie theater.

Now the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles brings together three separate bodies of work by the 1972 Art Center Photography alumnus — four decades’ worth of meticulously crafted prints that inventively reframe objects from the collections of a variety of museums. The exhibition Hiroshi Sugimoto: Past Tense, continuing through June 8, features “Dioramas” (1975–1994), “Portraits” (1999) and his newest series, “Photogenic Drawings” (2008–present).


Creative disruption: Image strategists on photography’s new frontier

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Photographs by Annenberg Apprentice Dave Koga are part of Our Story, a digital visual narrative he curated in collaboration with CicLAvia.

“The advent of new technologies and a global population consumed by social media have turned photography on its head,” says Dennis Keeley, chair of Art Center’s Photography and Imaging Department. “The profession now demands a daunting versatility for survival—including skills in entrepreneurship, computational competency and critical thinking. Image-making now extends well beyond the traditionally constructed photograph to more immediate and interconnected processes. These contemporary practices and ideas utilize art, science and communications, and demand an intellectual flexibility, collaborative spirit, and a willingness to engage the world with strategy.”

To prepare photography students to meet the demands of this rapidly changing profession, Keeley and his colleagues developed a pilot class this Spring, Creative Disruption: Beyond the Classroom. Co-led by Everard Williams, Ann Cutting and Elisa Callow, the class embeds students in local nonprofits where they’re given a creative challenge and work in collaboration with the partner organization to tackle that challenge.

The class is part of an Art Center study, funded by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation, investigating and testing models for the future of photographic education.

Read on to learn about our first two Annenberg Apprentices, and their innovative work with two community-based organizations, CicLAvia and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.


We shall not see his like again: Remembering Photography alum Wayne F. Miller

Monday, February 17th, 2014

“We began as artist and dealer, but it developed into the most important personal relationship I made in my 16 years in the field,” says Chicago gallery director Paul Berlanga of his friend, Art Center alumnus Wayne Forest Miller (Photography ’41). They met in 2001, at an exhibition of Miller’s work at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Gallery. “After a momentary glance at his work on the walls [the Bronzeville series], I knew the Stephen Daiter Gallery needed to represent this man.” Miller, a Chicago native, was 82 years old at the time, with a long and legendary career behind him — World War II photographer in Edward Steichen’s elite U.S. Navy Combat Photo Unit, member of Magnum Photos, and recipient of two consecutive Guggenheim Fellowships for his landmark project documenting the African American community on Chicago’s South Side in the late 1940s. Miller, who lived in the Bay Area with his wife of 70 years, passed away on May 22, 2013. Berlanga gave a eulogy at the California memorial service last fall, and now shares his memories of the photographer — “Wayne always preferred ‘working photographer’ to artist” — with Dotted Line.


MLK Day: For Photo alum Van Evers—son of civil rights leader Medgar Evers—giving a photograph is as rewarding as taking one

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Dr. Betty Shabazz (educator and widow of Malcolm X), Coretta Scott King (activist and widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and Van Evers’ mother, Myrlie Evers-Williams.

Though he rarely grants interviews, this week Van Evers agreed to talk with Dotted Line about his education and career, and also about his family legacy—an important part of our nation’s history as well as his own.

Los Angeles is not merely the backdrop for an Art Center education. It’s a living laboratory for artistic experimentation and, as the capital of an Industry so pervasive it needs no other name, a source of gainful employment.

Photography alumnus James Van Dyke Evers (who goes by “Van”) has an especially coveted gig in entertainment as the official photographer for the L.A.-based Tavis Smiley show on PBS. Over the past six years he has photographed hundreds of A-list guests on the nightly talk show, a who’s who of contemporary culture and politics, from Prince to Anthony Hopkins, from James Taylor to President Barack Obama.

“My job is to capture that special energy between two people,” says Van, who may be unique in the fast-paced world of TV talk shows for making sure every guest leaves with a framed print commemorating their appearance on the show. It entails working with lightning speed and decisiveness, and often literally running to catch guests as they step into their waiting limos.

“Most shows deliver digital images to the publicist later, and we do that too,” he says. “But handing the guest a physical print, to hold in their hands—it means so much to that guest, and it puts a smile on their face.”

That grateful smile is what made Van choose a career in photography.

Van picked up his first camera as a nine-year-old at summer camp and made his first prints in an old shed. “Light leaked everywhere, it was a real mess, but when I saw that print come up in the developing tray, that was it.”

Art Center’s top-tier facilities and dedicated faculty helped Van hone his craft, teaching him professional skills and life lessons that continue to serve him. Looking back he singles out instructors like Charlie Potts and Peter Suszynski and fellow students like Everard Williams and Jeff Sedlick (who both now serve on the faculty), and Neal Brown and Sean Thonson. And he gladly shares his own “must do”s for aspiring photographers: “Be on time. Listen to the client’s needs. And prep, prep, prep! Have a backup plan. Because things can and will go wrong. If you don’t get the shot right away, it’s over. You don’t get a second chance.”


LAUSD and Art Center partner against gun violence

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014


Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest public school system, has joined forces with Art Center’s renowned social impact department, Designmatters, to implement Designmatters’ cutting-edge health curriculum, Where’s Daryl? Designed to get teens and tweens talking about gun violence in an effort to prevent it, the middle school classroom toolkit is part of Uncool: The Anti-Gun Violence Project, an award-winning program supported by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and dedicated to the memory of Norman Schureman (Product Design ’85), a beloved Art Center instructor who lost his life to gun violence in 2010.


Grateful for what designers bring to the table: Honesty––its power to change the conversation and the world

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
©2013 Wendy MacNaughton for LEAP Symposium

A new video by alum Erik Anderson — about the convening at Art Center of social innovation design students and educators, corporate and nonprofit leaders — has made Good’s 2013 Top 10 list. Illustration © 2013 Wendy MacNaughton for LEAP Symposium

“For all of you designers who need inspiration to conquer the wicked problems we face in the world today,” says Mariana Amatullo, “let’s remember that honesty, coupled with a good measure of bold determination and ingenuity, can help us leap forward.”

For Amatullo, Art Center vice president and co-founder of the social impact department Designmatters, honesty is an ethos that informs all of her work with her team at the College and with a growing cohort of young designers leading a global movement using “design thinking” to address seemingly intractable challenges—from homelessness and gun violence to water poverty and gender inequality—in ways that have never been tried before.

“We’re at a point where thousands of students across the country, in high school and college and graduate school, are joining [this] movement to participate in and impact the world around us,” says William Drenttel, an award-winning designer, publisher and design leader.

Along with Drenttel and like-minded colleagues at Art Center and around the country, Amatullo recently organized a national gathering of professionals and students to explore opportunities for strengthening the movement and shaping its future. A chief concern of the LEAP Symposium: How to make design for social innovation a viable career with navigable pathways, and how to prepare both students and potential employers for an era in which designers will be—must be—at the table in discussions large and small about solving the world’s “wicked problems.”

Here’s an idea. Try this out around your own Thanksgiving dinner table: When you’re sharing what you’re grateful for this year, be completely honest. (more…)

Art for artists’ sake: Sharon Lockhart collaborates across time with dance composer Noa Eshkol

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Artforum called Sharon Lockhart’s meditation on the visionary work of Israeli dance composer and textile artist Noa Eshkol (1924–2007) an “intimate conversation of ideas simulated across the gulf of history.” The New York Times hailed the five-channel film installation as a “subtle but virtuosic move.” And the Los Angeles Times described it as “a sensitive portrait of a formidable artist.”

If you didn’t get a chance to experience the Art Center alumna’s acclaimed exhibition in person at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 2012 or at The Jewish Museum in New York earlier this year, the catalog presents an opportunity to delve deeply into the two artists’ unusual “collaboration.” Edited by LACMA’s Stephanie Barron and Britt Salvesen, Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol (Prestel Publishing) features an in-depth interview with Lockhart; photographs of the installation and of Eshkol-Wachman Movement Notation spherical models; a selection of Eshkol’s wall carpets, scores and drawings; as well as several essays.

It’s not the first time Lockhart, who completed her MFA in Fine Art/Painting in 1993, has trained her lens on the work — and sometimes literally the labors — of others. In this case, Lockhart says, she was drawn to Eshkol’s “radical” practice and the “labor of love” that Eshkol’s devoted students, many of them aging, enact in preserving and performing her rigorous compositions.

This story originally appeared in Art Center’s Fall 2013 Dot magazine, where you’ll find more images from Lockhart’s installation as well as profiles of other notable alumni at work.