With the holidays behind us and election season upon us for the foreseeable future, this is the perfect time to divert our attention to the edifying pursuit of creative fulfillment. And what better way to do that than with this extra bulky edition of ArtCenter Alumni Notes.
Guy Bove (BS 96 Product Design) was recently featured in a Tatler Magazine Hong Kong article about watch design. Hong Kong Tatler
Edward Eyth (BS 85 Product Design) was on a panel discussion for his concept designer work on Back to the Future Part II as part of the Toyota Mirai premier event. Toyota Newsroom
Freedom is as hard to quantify as it is easy to take for granted. But without freedom of expression, there is no creativity. And ArtCenter, as a community of artists and designers, owes its enduring culture of innovation, influence and impact to the strides made by the struggle for civil liberties, both in the distant and recent past.
MLK Day offers an opportunity to recognize our debt to the original civil rights pioneers as well as to the new generation of #blacklivesmatter student activists who have laid the groundwork for generations of iconoclasts, innovators and change makers of all persuasions to continue to create a more just, equal and artful world.
Look no further than Illustration alum, Emerson Terry, for the living embodiment of that first-wave pioneering spirit and integral relationship between freedom of expression and creative fulfillment. Terry, at age 90, is one of the College’s first African American graduates whose, um, illustrious career included award-winning work for the entertainment and aeronautics industries. The above video pays tribute to Terry’s creative and cultural legacy, fittingly produced by current ArtCenter Film student, Amadu Haruna, with assistance by fellow Film student Matthew Plaxco and Photography alum Edward Cushenberry.
In a more contemporary iteration of the spirit of protest that inspired this holiday, Illustration student, Kayla Salisbury, voiced her own questions about our collective responsibilities in this courageous essay exploring the ways in which ArtCenter community might better support its students of color and begin to foster an honest and meaningful dialogue around human rights.
Indeed, the conversation around social justice takes many shapes at ArtCenter. Humanities and Sciences faculty member and accomplished entertainment attorney, Michelle Katz teaches a course entitled The Evolution of Civil Rights, which examines the greatest civil rights threats and champions and the ways in which artists have been instrumental to the march toward a more egalitarian society.
Alvin Lustig, The Man Who Died, 1947. Book cover published by New Directions. (Image courtesy of LACMA)
Eye on Design recently and rightly hailed LACMA’s vow to incorporate more graphic design exhibitions into its programming. The museum kicked off this new series of shows with Vitality of New Forms: Designs by Alvin Lustig and Elaine Lustig Cohen, an expansive exhibition, on view through July 4, 2016, featuring 56 works by a pair of influential and innovative designers who also happen to be ArtCenter alums.
The move to celebrate and elevate the work of talented designers is just the latest sign that LA’s signature cultural institution has also become its most dynamic and nimble, further fortifying its growing reputation as a world-class museum and one of LA’s most vital cultural resources.
This decision to feature the work of ArtCenter alums in the inaugural show in this series is a huge endorsement for College’s contribution to the field of design. And as Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination continues to draw crowds and critical raves, LACMA is making a strong statement about ArtCenter’s contribution to our creative landscape, both locally and globally.
Illustration alumnus Drew Struzan (center) receives the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award at ArtCenter’s Fall 2015 graduation ceremony. Photo: Ross LaManna
It’s not hyperbole to say that billions of people around the globe have seen the work of Illustration alumnus Drew Struzan (BFA 70).
As “the man behind the poster,” the 68-year-old Struzan has created iconic imagery for the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Muppets and Harry Potter series of films. Other instantly recognizable works of his include posters for Coming to America, The Goonies, First Blood and The Thing.
And though he’s retired from the entertainment industry to focus on his studio work, he recently lent his deft hand to a poster for Batkid Begins, the documentary about the boy who became Batman for a day thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and a D23 convention exclusive poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opens in theaters today.
This past weekend at ArtCenter’s Fall 2015 graduation, Illustration chair Anne Field presented Struzan with the ArtCenter Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. After eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd inside the packed Pasadena Civic Auditorium, a visibly moved Struzan asked Field with a laugh, “Does this mean my life is over?”
After the ceremony, I met with the living legend and he was kind enough to share memories of his time at ArtCenter in the mid-to-late 1960s, when the College was located at Third Street in the Hancock Park Neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Chris Do and Jose Caballer, co-founders of The Skool. ArtCenter photo by Jennie Warren
The business of online learning is booming. Just ask lynda.com co-founders, former ArtCenter faculty member Lynda Weinman and alumnus and Trustee Bruce Heavin (BFA 93 Illustration), whose company was acquired this year by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion.
Inspired and mentored by these pioneers, Graphic Design alums Jose Caballer (BFA 96) and Chris Do (BFA 95) represent a new generation of innovative education entrepreneurs. Together the two have co-founded The Skool, an online learning resource for designers.
Saman Kesh, director of the upcoming feature Controller. Photo: Jennie Warren
In late 2012, Film alumnus Saman Kesh (BFA 10) went to Taiwan on an assignment to write and direct a short to promote a forthcoming massively multiplayer game in the vein of World of Warcraft.
What Kesh ended up making over the duration of a two-day shoot was Controller, an eight-minute science fiction short film about an imprisoned young woman with psychic powers who takes physical control of her boyfriend to facilitate her rescue.
What does the former have to do with the latter? Other than two Chinese hanzi characters that appear at the 7:45 mark—since the game was developed for the Chinese market—absolutely nothing.
Robert Kondo, co-director of Tonko House’s short The Dam Keeper. Photo: Jennie Warren
In the 2015 Academy Award-nominated animated short The Dam Keeper, a young pig selflessly operates a windmill to keep a poisonous cloud from destroying his town.
Keeping imminent disaster at bay doesn’t seem to be an issue for Illustration alumnus Robert Kondo (BFA 02), who co-directed the film along with Dice Tsutsumi, the first project to emerge from their Berkeley-based animation studio Tonko House.
Take, for example, the story of how Kondo landed his first job. He recalls feeling sick one day during his final term at ArtCenter, walking out of class and heading to the parking lot to recuperate in his car.
ArtCenter’s OUTSIDEIN exhibition, on display at both campuses through January 10, 2016, was inspired in part by the mural Keith Haring painted at the College’s Hillside Campus in 1989, commemorating the World Health Organization’s second annual AIDS Awareness Day. That piece, which took two days to paint, was Haring’s last completed work. Three months later he died of AIDS.
To commemorate Haring’s legacy as well today’s celebration of the 28th anniversary of AIDS Awareness Day, the above video traces the origins of ArtCenter’s longstanding relationship to street art and the insurgent role graffiti-based street murals have played in embedding social and political messages in an emerging, evolving and now mainstream form of creative expression. Combining in-depth artist interviews and time-lapse footage of their creative process, this piece provides a rare glimpse inside the creative process, connecting the dots between the legacy of this subversive art form to its current role as an arbiter of pop culture aesthetics and an access point for popular engagement with the arts.
Doug Aitken, Station to Station. Courtesy Regen Projects.
1. Since graduating from ArtCenter nearly 25 years ago, Doug Aitken (BFA 91 Illustration) has blazed a luminous trajectory. From his breakout Electric Earth video installation at the 1999 Whitney Biennial, to the nomadic Station to Station (2013), the Southern California native creates multimedia works at once monumental and ephemeral.
Frances Stark, My Best Thing, 2011. Digital video, color, sound. 100:00 min. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase. Image courtesy of Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York.
“’UH-OH’ is among the finest solo museum shows this year.” Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, November 12, 2015.
It is not often that an artist has both intrigued and intimidated me as much as Frances Stark (MFA 93). So it was with some trepidation that I set out to the Hammer Museum to see Stark’s mid-career retrospective, UH-OH: Frances Stark, 1991-2015, on view until January 24, 2016. The exhibition brings together more than two decades of Stark’s poetic compositions and autobiographical reflections, featuring 125 works, including the artist’s early carbon drawings, intricate collages, and mixed-media paintings as well as her more recent videos.