A Message Regarding DACA from President Lorne Buchman

artcenter campus life-2Dear ArtCenter Community,

As we welcome with excitement the arrival of our new students for the Fall term, 2017, we simultaneously witness with alarm the Trump administration’s formal announcement that it plans to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) for roughly 800,000 “DREAMers.” This deeply troubling and heartless decision goes against the fundamental values of this institution, and we stand in solidarity with all those who are impacted at ArtCenter and throughout the country.

In light of today’s developments, I want to reiterate my position on DACA from my message to you last January and to provide the following reassurances:

  • Should DACA be revoked, and should it result in a negative effect on a DACA student’s financial resources, the College is prepared to work closely with the student to find supplementary aid to support completion of the ArtCenter degree.
  • We have prepared, as comprehensively as possible, pertinent legal information for undocumented students (and their families) regarding their educational needs and will refer them to trusted legal counsel as necessary. This is available through CSE.
  • Admission to ArtCenter will continue to be “blind” to immigration status (we never ask people to disclose that status in their application) and will not have any influence on admission.
  • We have identified specific staff members trained to assist (with absolute confidentiality) undocumented students (in CSE, Admissions, and Financial Aid) who can serve as resources for them or direct them appropriately to individuals off campus for help.

In addition, I have contacted our congressional and senate representatives expressing my indignation about today’s announcement and will continue to do whatever I can to fight the injustice of the decision.  I also plan to sign a letter of protest with my colleagues from our fellow AICAD schools.

I urge all of you, in your own ways, to speak up about this development.

1. Call your Representatives and Senators. Dial the Capitol switchboard, ask for your Rep., and tell them to make DACA permanent: 202-224-3121

2. Tweet your elected officials. There’s a list of every member of Congress’ handle here – tag them and use the hashtag #DefendDACA: https://twitter.com/cspan/lists/members-of-congress/members

At the very least, today’s decision could deny talented young people access to their education and to the future opportunities which that education represents; at worst, they could face losing the only home they have ever known.

We cannot remain silent while the vulnerable among us face the possibility of a fate so cruel and frightening.

Thank you,

Lorne M. Buchman

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H&S Faculty Rocío Carlos: Poet, Teacher, Camp Counselor


This Summer, poet, girls’ rock band camp counselor and Humanities and Sciences faculty member Rocío Carlos participated in a panel, Poetry as Witness, at the Allied Media Conferencein Detroit. We caught up with Carlos shortly after her trip to find out a little more about her role at ArtCenter, her work as a poet and teacher, and her experience presenting at the conference.

What classes do you teach?

I have been teaching at ArtCenter since January 2012. I teach writing courses such as Writing StudioWriting Studio: Intensive, and Narrative Strategies. Also Literature courses such as The Heroine and Immigrant and First Gen Voices in American Lit. The course I’m most excited about is a participatory poetry course offered this past Summer Term called You Are Here: Poetry in and of Los Angeles.

What is your research about?

My work concerns itself with the possibilities of witness and cartography, and the role of the poet as observer/participant.

Can you tell us a little about the conference and your experience presenting?

The Allied Media Conference is held every summer in Detroit—according to its website, “it brings together a vibrant and diverse community of people using media to incite change: filmmakers, radio producers, technologists, youth organizers, writers, entrepreneurs, musicians, dancers and artists.”

I presented on a panel titled “Poet as Witness.” My participation was in partnership with the independent Los Angeles press Writ Large Press, whose editors seek to give voice to authors overlooked by systemic biases. My work “Attendance,” published by poet and editor Chiwan Choi in the online magazine Cultural Weekly was a factor in being selected for the panel, but for me, my selection was also directly related to the course I taught in the Summer term, You are Here: Poetry in and of Los Angeles. In the course, students attended poetry events in the city and wrote poetry of witness and documentation as an exercise of resistance against erasure of marginalized spaces and experiences and as an exercise of cartography. In addition to being an opportunity to present my praxis as a poet, it enriched my pedagogy and directly informed my curriculum at ArtCenter.

The experience of presenting was both thrilling and humbling. I was excited to propose that poetry could be a tool of documentation even as it maintained a kind of beautiful mystery, that when we look back at movements of struggle against erasure, that the poetry as much as legal briefs or historical analysis, will tell the story of human experience. And that as much as any finely-made thing, such as a painting or a film piece, a poem acted as a capsule of context and impact.

ArtCenter funded* my flight and housing for the duration of the four-day conference. Without their support, my participation would not have been possible. I am an adjunct faculty, which means I am not promised any number of courses. Summers are particularly light in course-load, which means I must choose between expenses carefully. That ArtCenter did this for me even as a part time faculty communicated to me that they value exploration in all fields (even poetry!) and that they believe in my pedagogy and methods. This is a wonderful feeling. I admire their commitment to their faculty in this way.

How is your research informed by your teaching?

The classroom is naturally where a lot of questions and problem-solving opportunities present themselves, through group discussions and thinking together about readings or the living field of poetry. I’m quite grateful that my students believe in problem-solving in the fields of art and design. We are able to experiment with form and style and ask ourselves what the role of the poet and work out what poetry looks like when the poet’s role is this or that. Specifically, when the poet’s role is as witness.

How is your teaching informed by your research?

In my poetry workshop You Are Here: Poetry in and of Los Angeles, we exercised adopting constraints and parameters informed by a kind of poetics of place. Context and impact are explored, just as in creating a prototype for a product. Aesthetic and genre are considered, just as in creating a fine-art piece or film. Since my field research and practice is a participant in the field of poetry, observations and problems I encounter in the field are entertained in class.

How have your students changed you or your work?

Since for at least a term, they too are gathering observations and language systems in the field and arranging them for prompts and making decisions about language in order to convey a voice or a style, their problems are problems I too consider and try to solve in my own work.

You mentioned you volunteered as a camp counselor for a girls’ rock camp. Can you tell us a little about that?

Girls rock camps began springing up a little under 20 years ago to foster a sense of empowerment when it came to making music. Girls and women may not be visible in music, even though there are women working in the industry as game-changing producers (Sylvia Robinson, the godmother of Hip Hop) or capable instrumentalists on tracks we know well (bassist Carol Kaye who played with the Beach Boys, Neil Young and many staples of American Pop). When girls and women seem most visible it may be as muses, as back-up singers or dancers or as fans clamoring for an artist’s attention. Girls may be directly or indirectly discouraged from playing instruments or taking risks or making noise.

Chicas Rockeras of South East L.A. is one of many such rock camps for girls, specifically located in a working-class, mostly immigrant, bi-cultural and bilingual, mostly brown and black community. This is where I grew up. As a camp counselor or “band manager,” I stayed with my “band”—a group of five girls between 14-15-years-old—throughout the day as they moved from instrument practice to workshops to band practice. I watched five strangers become creative collaborators. The girls learned rudimentary instrumentation, formed a band, wrote a song, designed and hand printed band shirts and played a showcase at the end of five days. It was important that I grew up where they grew up. That I went to college and returned to foster creativity in my community. That I validated and affirmed their home cultures and languages. And I am so grateful that I was able to do this.

What’s something you aren’t good at, but wish you were?

Well, there are things that I don’t work enough at but want to be great at, like other languages (I love being multi-lingual) or dance (I danced one form for about 16 years and recently switched form and it’s difficult). Also playing drums.

*Carlos’ participation in the conference was supported by a grant from ArtCenter’s Faculty Professional Development Fund, a new opportunity at ArtCenter for Faculty members to engage with peers through national or international non-profit professional settings – specifically presenting or being featured on a panel at conferences, or professional organization meetings, or speaking engagement by invitation in a not-for-profit situation. For more information about the Fund, contact Sam Holtzman.

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Faculty member Frido Beisert publishes Creative Strategies


Can you teach creativity? According to alumnus and ArtCenter instructor Fridolin “Frido” Beisert (MS 08 Industrial Design), the answer to that question is an unequivocal “yes.”

The author of Creative Strategies, a book that offers 10 approaches to solve everyday problems, Beisert asserts that the creative process is a skill that can be learned and practiced just like riding a bicycle.

“I see evidence of this regularly in my classroom where students with an open-minded approach produce far greater creative leaps in their work,” said Beisert, who has 18 years of experience working as a professional designer while also teaching at the College’s Pasadena campus.

Beisert’s goal for Creative Strategies, written in a breezy style with plenty of humor, is to help artists and designers eliminate the fear of failure and gain the freedom and confidence to approach any task. The book features illustratations by ArtCenter alumna Jessie Kawata (BFA 11 Illustration) and the cover was designed by alumna Tomo Ogino (BFA 12 Graphic Design).

The 10 creative strategies featured in the book, published by Design Studio Press, are about using both the right and left hemispheres of the brain simultaneously and in harmony, responding to challenges with a flexible mind.

In the book, Beisert lays out what he believes are key steps in the creative process. These steps include: identifying the blind spot, refueling on inspiration, and reality hacking. One chapter is devoted to 10 ways to live more creatively.

And Beisert should know.

Prior to his current roles as creative director of Baum-Kuchen studio and a director in the Product Design department at ArtCenter, he worked in Tokyo developing futuristic video games, played as an international underground deejay, and studied traditional arts and crafts in Japan.

At ArtCenter, Beisert has taught creative problem solving, design innovation and dynamic sketching to thousands of young designers. More broadly, Beisert teaches what is often referred to as design thinking, an area of study that merges business and design and uses close, almost anthropological, observation of people to gain insight into problems that may not yet be articulated.

In a nod to ArtCenter’s famous culture of critique that has been a rite of passage for decades in the College’s classrooms, he explores the value of “Crit Culture” in Creative Strategies.

In fact, the book functions as an excellent primer to ArtCenter’s pedagogy. Beisert refers to this as the College’s “secret sauce” which has produced some of the world’s most respected designers of automobiles, technology, footwear and furniture.

“Frido is by far the greatest instructor of my life,” said alumnus Andrew Kim (BS 13 Product), Tesla’s lead designer who wrote the book’s forward. “But he’s the scariest man I’ve ever met.”

Quirky? Sure. Eccentric? Definitely. But “scary?”

Well, Beisert’s enthusiasm for getting to the core of a problem or challenge can sometimes border on obsession. But it’s an enthusiasm whose results are hard to argue.

Many of his students have gone on to leadership roles for some of the world’s most innovative companies, including Adidas, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Nike and Under Armour.

“If it weren’t for his class, I would have never approached design the way I do today,” wrote Kim about Beisert. “I discovered a newfound clarity and began to see paths to a solution that I was previously blind to.”

These paths were not something that Beisert saw immediately either.

While a graduate student at ArtCenter’s top ranked Industrial Design department, Beisert spent two years researching prototype methods on how to teach creativity.

During his career, he recognized that creativity was indeed a skill that he had learned, but he didn’t exactly know how he had acquired this ability. So he set out to discover the secrets of creativity pedagogy by first analyzing the evolution of his own design process. The journey from that analysis lead to writing Creative Strategies.

“The most important thing I learned is that I could achieve anything I want in life as long as I set my mind to it,” said Beisert.

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Environmental Design students to envision “One Arroyo”

Image courtesy of the Arroyo Advisory Group

Image courtesy of the Arroyo Advisory Group

From fly-fishing and professional football to archery and bird watching, Pasadena’s historic Arroyo Seco serves as a 900-acre playground as diverse as the millions of urban sophisticates, suburbanites and nature dwellers who use it each year.

If Pasadena were to succeed in revitalizing the Arroyo’s 22-miles of trails and creating a singular vision for the canyon’s three distinct areas—the Hahamongna watershed, the Central Arroyo’s entertainment hub, and the rivers of the Lower Arroyo—the Arroyo Seco could rival New York’s Central Park, Chicago’s Lincoln Park, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and L.A.’s own Griffith Park in esteem and recognition.

This Fall term, a team of Environmental Design students will try to do just that as they help reimagine Pasadena’s greatest outdoor space. Embedded in Environmental Design’s Sustainable Design Studio, faculty member Professor James Meraz will encourage students to design unique spatial experiences that are sustainable, eco-friendly and environmentally responsible, with the potential to encourage a critical dialogue and a new stewardship and symbiosis in our relationship to our Southern California eco-system.

The class will explore a wide-range of topics, including public furnishings, interactive installations, play equipment, hospitality spaces, way-finding and experiences that may reinvigorate surrounding trails and landscapes. As Environmental Design Department Chair David Mocarski recently explained to Pasadena Now, “Everything happens in the environment. And so the class is really looking at possibilities of reimagining and looking at how we can elevate people’s interaction with the Arroyo Seco.”

The class project stems from a collaboration between ArtCenter and the Arroyo Advisory Group, a citizen-led effort to develop a cohesive vision and implementatio

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Graduation Events: Summer Edition

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“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” B. B. King

The creative energy on both campuses is kicking into high gear as ArtCenter prepares for its series of Summer graduation events. Here’s what’s in store as the College prepares to launch the next wave of creative talent in to the professional world.

Thursday, August 17: Dual-Campus Graduation Show Preview

Thursday activities start in the morning, when students get to meet select potential employers during Recruitment Open House. In the evening, industry leaders, employers, corporate partners, donors and alumni get the first look at the Summer term’s graduating artists and designers at the invitation-only Graduation Show Preview, held from 6:00–9:00 p.m.

Undergraduate candidates from Advertising, Environmental Design, Film, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interaction Design, Photography and Imaging, Product Design and Transportation Design will be showing at Hillside Campus. Graduate Film, Graduate Industrial Design and Graduate Transportation Systems and Design master’s candidates will also have work on display at the Hillside Campus.

Fine Art graduates will have an exhibition at the 870 Building at South Campus from 7:00–10:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 19: Graduation Ceremony

ArtCenter’s Summer graduation ceremony begins at 10:00 a.m. at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

Following welcoming remarks by President Lorne Buchman, the baccalaureate and master’s candidates—along with faculty, staff, family and friends—will hear from this term’s Student Leadership Award recipient. The Student Leadership Award is given out each term to a student who exemplifies standout leadership qualities and accomplishments. This term, a committee of students, faculty, and staff affirmed the values of this award by selecting Product Design major Lori Nishikawa. Product Design Chair Karen Hofmann said, in nominating Nishikawa, “[a] Hawaiin native with a deep commitment to sustainability, social equity and collaboration who is laser-focused on leveraging her creative talents to bridge multiple disciplines in taking on the world’s wicked problems. Without a doubt, I see Lori Nishikawa moving on from ArtCenter to take what she has learned here and truly make the world a better place.”

Those assembled at the Civic Center will also hear from valedictorian Victor Artiga Rodriguez, who is graduating with a degree in Fine Art. In addition to lauding his leadership qualities, Fine Art Chair Tom Knechtel noted, “since he first came to us, Victor has demonstrated a notable intellectual curiosity and willingness to take aesthetic risks. He has not defined his practice by any one media, pursuing painting, sculpture, printmaking, film and performance not as shallow explorations but as serious questions about the roles of viewers and producers. His art is informed by humor but his questions are completely serious.”

Following the student awardees, as is Summer Graduation custom, the College will bestow Great Teacher Awards to one full-time and one part-time faculty member.

ArtCenter first began formally honoring great teachers in 1986. Once a year, recipients are selected by a committee of students following an open nomination process by all students. During the award’s history, instructors from across all departments have been recognized for their significant and life-changing contributions toward student learning.

Accomplished professionals in their own right, ArtCenter instructors choose to develop the next generation of artists and designers who will go on to influence change and shape culture. By recognizing excellence in its full-time and part-time teachers, the College appropriately honors the profession for the transformative role it plays in advancing art and design theory, practice and discourse.

The Great Teacher Award embodies ArtCenter’s remarkable spirit of excellence, the extraordinary contributions and skill of our revered instructors and, perhaps most importantly, our commitment to prepare students for a life marked by professional and personal impact.

This year, Integrated Studies faculty member Jon Nguyen will receive the full-time faculty award and Kevin Beard, who teaches classes in Product Design and Humanities and Sciences, will receive the part-time faculty award. Nguyen will give the commencement address.

Saturday, April 22: Graduation Show

After the ceremony, Graduation Show opens to the public at both Hillside and South Campuses from 1–6 p.m., where work by the newest ArtCenter graduates will be on display. The College’s dual-campus Graduation Show offers friends, families and the general public an opportunity to see the stellar work of this term’s graduating students.

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Interaction Design Student Klaire Tsai Reflects on Her Internship at Forbes

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This article first appeared on Forbes.com.

I was as happy as a clam when I first heard that I was selected to become part of the Forbes Summer Internship program. This opportunity came after I’ve been perusing my goal as an Interaction designer for almost two years. After couple years working as a graphic designer in the field, I decided to pack my bag and continue my study to become an interaction designer. During my days at ArtCenter College of Design, many people have asked me why I chose this path? After eleven weeks of working at Forbes, I have found my answer.

As an interaction designer, I have a strong desire in understanding human behaviors and I believe that’s the key to creating a seamless user experience. Therefore, a well-designed user experience has always fascinated me. My role at Forbes is to work closely with project managers and design team to create the user-friendly design for mobile and web products. I was lucky enough to participate in some of the recent major projects such as Forbes Career page,Digital style guide page, and Level Up Webinar. I have also attended many productive meetings that I found really enjoyable. My personal favorites are the Product technology and product developments meetings. I was amazed by the teams’ in-depth explanation of their projects and how it will benefit the company. The meetings also help us connect with other departments and work towards the same goal of creating a great user experience.

Besides from the meetings, I have gotten the chance to work with the product and design team, which allowed us to work together and get a project created from start to finish. I have learned it is okay to take a step back on projects, take a deep breath because the perfect project requires countless efforts from all different departments and every vision is valuable in the final outcome of a project.

The last eleven weeks as an intern has been invaluable to me and has given me an in-depth insight of what it is like to work in a media based industry, I have learned a great deal about the business and I’ve managed to bring my own vision to it. Once again, thank you, Forbes, for giving me this great opportunity.

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Fine Art’s Sound Lab Makes Waves of Noise

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This story first appeared in Dot magazine.

On a recent Friday night in July, Fine Art student Mehregan Meysami stands behind two tables heaped with music equipment—a turntable, mixer, black audio cables, effects pedals and more—on the spacious second floor of the 870 Building.

A distorted child’s voice—her own as a 5-year-old recorded in her native Iran—swells through speakers and crashes against a cacophony of ambient noise that reverberates in your chest. Meysami, set to graduate this term, takes a contact microphone she made herself and drags it along the turntable’s edges, unleashing guttural splinters of sound. Students and faculty sit transfixed in front of her.

Meysami’s piece is part of Summer 2017 live student performance night Communistation, hosted by Fine Art’s new Sound Lab, a hub of sonic creation founded by Fine Art faculty, sculptor and sound artist David Schafer.

“Sound is a material, similar to paint, wood, metal, steel or clay,” says Schafer, sitting in the Lab’s first-floor room in the 870 Building at ArtCenter’s South Campus, surrounded by posters, vinyl records and long colorful audio cables. “Sound is formless and can affect us emotionally, physically, physiologically, mentally. Like with a material, you can cut up sound. You can reshape it. You can layer it. You can compress it.”

Students can engage with the Sound Lab—just one of several labs in the College’s Art Labs facilities—in various ways, Schafer says. All majors can take a tutorial on the lab with Schafer or a Sound Lab teacher’s assistant such as current T.A. Meysami. In the lab they can experiment with a load of equipment, including turntables, mixers, effects pedals donated by EarthQuaker Devices and modular synthesizer keyboards donated by companies Arturia and Roland. They use software such as GarageBand and Logic to process and edit sound files to create recordings as deep and thick as sculptures.

“I experience immediate joy when I bring students into the Sound Lab, demonstrate the turntables and give them permission to play and experiment with the record as a physical object,” says Schafer. “They can scratch it and reverse it. They can change the speed.”

They can also participate in workshops—a Spring 2017 workshop focused on making contact microphones, which pick up sounds from surfaces—and the recent Summer 2017 Soldering Workshop: Soldering Audio Cablesworkshop taught by Los Angeles-based Stones Throw Records house engineer Jake Viator. In that workshop, Fine Art students including Meysami and former Sound Lab T.A. Victor Artiga Rodriguez made their own slinky audio cables with soldering irons and wire cutters, and then used those cables to plug into mixers in the Sound Lab. “It’s important for students to learn to be self-reliant,” Schafer says.

Schafer’s own love of sound extends to his childhood. He grew up in the Midwest listening to his shortwave radio at night, and would twist the dial to hear different languages, static and fuzz. He also played the trumpet and French horn and went to punk shows. A degree in sculpture and an interest in urban environments and architectural scale led him to create large-scale works and sculptures. He used experimental sound and spoken word in his colossal metal, wood and plastic sculptures starting in the ‘90s. He fully embraces noise.

“Noise is generally heard and viewed as an unwanted sound that might create discomfort, from the sound of airplanes to a neighbor’s washing machine,” says Schafer. “But it doesn’t have to be loud or harsh. It can be really subtle or just a weird frequency. Noise can be expressive as something improvised, textural, immersive and outside of control. You are born into sound, starting with the sound of your mom’s body when you were carried in a womb.”

“The Sound Lab is very open to all kinds of experimenting with the making, recording and processing and manipulation of all kinds of sound,” adds Schafer, who this coming Fall term will teach Advanced SculptureStudio Practice and Professional Practices for Artists.

Schafer teaches a number of sound-based courses such as Broken Music, a Humanities and Sciences seminar on the history of sound in the arts, and the upcoming Spring 2018 Fine Art studio course Sound, focusing on sound and its relationship to Fine Art practices.

In these courses, Schafer introduces students to composer John Cage’s work on silence, post-World War II composer Pauline Oliveros’s theory of meditative “deep listening,” and an early form of ‘40s electronic avant-garde music incorporating environmental sounds called musique concrete—music concrete—invented by French composer Pierre Schaeffer. Plus, he delves into the work of early 20th-century Italian Futurist painter and composer Luigi Russolo, who built noise-generating music devices called Intonarumori, and more modern-day Japanese noise artists such as Masami Akita and British band Throbbing Gristle.

Meysami, who studied architecture before coming to ArtCenter, became interested in diving into the world of noise and sound after taking the required Fine Art course Art: Structures and Systems with Schafer in 2015.

“When I took David’s class, I first thought, ‘What the hell is that? Sound art? I’m not interested,’” says Meysami, smiling. “But then he opened a new chapter for me. You don’t need to necessarily know music to be able to use sound. My visual work is very architectural and deals a lot with space. I use sound as sculpture to activate a space and evoke a sense of memory and feeling.”

Meysami’s senior project I Am in the Shelter of Window is directly inspired by musique concrete, and incorporates influential Iranian writer Forough Farrokhzad’s poems. For one part of the project, Meysami taped a contact microphone and surface transducers—which convert the surfaces they touch into speakers—onto a block of concrete.

“It’s music concrete, so it’s kind of like a joke,” she says. “The sound from the concrete is spacey, dreamy and intense, and similar to the air conditioning sound we hear in industrial buildings here.”

For an early Sound Lab piece, Meysami took a political speech and distorted it until it because unintelligible noise. Her booming, thunderous Communistation live performance piece—featuring a childhood recording of her speaking and singing songs in Farsi and ABCs in English to her parents—conjures up powerful emotions.

“I just want to cry when I listen to it, because I remember that moment, and how I thought so positively about the world,” she says. “Distorting that voice to something dark shows adulthood being very different than childhood. Noise can be open, abstract and very deep, and a lot depends on how you perceive it.”

During his own sound performance at Communistation, Rodriguez—who went to see noise bands in his native El Salvador before coming to ArtCenter—bounces in place behind the turntable and mixer table while a video of a car being assembled is projected onto a wall behind him. Keyboard dissonance combines with a crescendo of fuzz, which Rodriguez made by layering and distorting a numerical data set he learned about from Humanities and Sciences course Visual Math.

Part way through the performance, Rodriguez pulls into the middle of the floor blocks of concrete, a slab of wood, a roll of metal mesh and wrapping paper, and begins to crack the concrete. A melody begins, and he takes a contact microphone and rakes it over the mesh—releasing a metallic sound like skittering robots—and then along the ridges of the concrete while a relentless beat unfolds.

The piece ends with Mexican dance music Rodriguez grew up listening to in El Salvador, and the sculptor and sound artist grabbing friends in the audience and joyfully twirling them around.

“I feel like visual art and sound complement each other,” says Rodriguez. “My sculptures are wood, steel, very architectural, and I’ve been combining them with video components. I want my visual art and performances to have an edge of playfulness. I really like that push-pull between that and extreme harshness.”

As for Schafer, his face virtually lights up watching his Sound Lab students go down the rabbit hole of noise, sound and aural freedom live.

“I sometimes refer to our performance night as the night of psychic liberation, because it’s a little bit unpredictable and it brings everybody together.” he says. “It’s a party, a club, an experience.”

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A Preview of Thursday’s Formula-E Races

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This story first appeared in Dot magazine.

Imagine taking a 16-foot rubber band, stretching it taut and then twisting it and stuffing it into a carbon tube or another contraption—with wheels attached—created to look like a foot-long race car. When the wound-up rubber band is released, the car is off! Either to surge for 25 seconds with a burst of power down a track, or swerve and crash (but not burn).

ArtCenter’s annual international competition Formula-E—yes, the “E” is for “elastic”—will showcase on Thursday, August 10 both corporate and student teams who have worked towards just this purpose: win a 136-foot drag race course, a 322-foot figure eight course and a 228-foot hill climb using innovatively designed and constructed rubber-band powered race cars. The event takes place on the paved sidewalks of the Hillside Campus Sculpture Garden.

“This is a classic example of people doing something difficult together as a team that’s also a bonding and fun experience,” says Andy Ogden, who jumpstarted Formula-E in 2005 when he became ArtCenter’s Graduate Industrial Design chair.

This year, four teams of Graduate Industrial Design students and four teams of undergraduate Product Design and Transportation Design students, along with Pasadena City College students on each of those teams, will participate in the competition. Four Chinese teams who had won a June race in China—using a track that exactly replicates the Sculpture Garden’s sidewalks—are traveling to the final. Corporate participants include Honda and Mattel Hot Wheels.

“This is a very hard project, and people don’t realize how hard it is until they get into it,” says Ogden. “Design school education usually ends with a conceptual proposal. This actually has to work, and work within the constraints of a schedule.”

For the past 12 years, third term Graduate Industrial Design students have spent 13 weeks preparing for the race as part of their Summer 3D Development course. This term, for the first time, undergraduate Product Design and Transportation Design students have been able to take a Formula-E elective course. Formula-E’s ArtCenter roots, it turns out, go back to the ‘80s.

“The students I know who took the Formula-E course in the ‘80s and went on to be successful design professionals at Honda and Toyota would reminisce about it,” Ogden says.

Grad Industrial Design faculty Stan Kong, who along with co-instructor Javier Palomares takes students down the zig-zagging road of conceptualizing and constructing their race cars, cites Formula-E’s ability to stimulate “competition, comradery and working in teams to solve a problem that’s challenging.” Students start by reviewing different vehicles created in the past year, Kong says. Then they use 3D modeling software to design, calculate costs and foresee structural issues in advance, says Palomares. They make working models through a high-tech 3D printer, test them, narrow down an idea and build and refine many versions. Students “push all boundaries not only structurally but also aesthetically and performance-wise, always within budget,” says Palomares. Adds Ogden, “It’s a process of learning through testing and failure.”

As for ArtCenter’s Formula-E gaining steam in China—Chinese teams have won final races in past years—Ogden celebrates the competition’s global appeal. “Chinese schools participating signifies the importance of relationships we’ve cultivated with Chinese ArtCenter graduates and with Chinese companies,” he says. “We welcome schools and companies all over the world to enter.”

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GradID student Xinyao Liu awarded IDSA scholarship

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In a year when IDSA has chosen Design IS Business as the theme of its International Design Conference 2017, the winner of the Gianninoto Graduate Scholarship says it was her passion for the intersection of design, business and technology that drew her to join the GradID program at ArtCenter College of DesignXinyao Liu, S/IDSA, expects to earn her master’s degree in industrial design in fall 2017. This summer, she’s interning at Kohler, applying human-centered thinking, ideation and quick prototyping to create an experiential shower enclosure.

Liu earned a bachelor’s degree from East China University of Science and Technology and interned at TotalBrand 2, Bantum and Moma Design in Shanghai. She got hands-on experience in everything from branding a robotic vacuum cleaner, to designing an elevator panel, insulin injection pen and an oven range hood.

Liu’s passion and persistence in ideation and iteration was inspired by the advice of her frst supervisor at TotalBrand2: “Don’t stop developing your concepts, and you will surprise yourself!” Liu sees design as a vehicle to make the world a better place. She employs system design research to find meaningful insights and opportunities, create the product or service with effective design skills and develop the business model to make an innovation evolve strategically. “I put lots of effort in helping the aging population and in sustainability,” she says.

In a project called Primavarra, Liu aimed to inspire and empower seniors to lead joyful and healthful lives. In sustainability, she designed a shared bike system to promote ecofriendly commuting, and built apps to encourage carpooling and reduce food waste.

“It’s such an honor to receive this scholarship,” says Liu. “I’m very thankful that IDSA supports students in their education and development in various ways!”

This story was originally posted on IDSA’s website.

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End of Term Reminders from Environmental Health and Safety


As we enter the final stretch of the summer term, please review the following Environmental, Health and Safety reminders.

Faculty, please take a few minutes to review the list with your students. ArtCenter is committed to providing you with a healthy and safe environment along with the tools and resources necessary for a successful end of term.

  • First Aid: contact Campus Security to report all first aid or medical concerns/issues.
  • Environmental Concerns:  Please contact Campus Security ext 2211 (campussecurity@artcenter.edu)  or Cynthia Quentin (ehs@artcenter.edu)  to report any environmental or air quality issues.
  • Fire and Emergency Equipment: Do Not remove, cover, hang items from,  modify or relocate any fire or emergency response equipment such as strobes, alarms, extinguishers, maps, exit signage, first aid kits, fire pulls, etc. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • No Smoking: Please be mindful of ongoing hazardous and flammable chemical application.  NO Smoking in the proximity of flammable fumes, high hazard areas, or outdoor dry brush areas.  Please stay in designated smoking areas and be mindful of cigarette butt disposal.
  • Emergency Exits and aisles: Keep a 36” clearance in front of or exiting from all doors.  Maintain 48” clean and clutter free aisle ways throughout all buildings.  Trash and debris will be removed and disposed of daily.
  • Chemical Handling: Please read all labels and warning language prior to using any chemical.  Focus on precautionary language (i.e.: highly flammable, corrosive, apply in well ventilated area, etc.) and recommended personal protective equipment (i.e.: respiratory protection, gloves, eye protection, etc.)
  • Chemical Application: Please use the designated shop spaces for mixing and/or application of hazardous chemicals.  Always wear the recommended personal protective equipment appropriate to the chemical being applied.
  • Chemical Disposal: Please dispose of chemical saturated rags, napkins, paper or empty chemical containers in the red hazardous waste containers located in the shop areas.  If you need assistance or guidance, please speak to your instructor or shop representative.
  • Respiratory Protection: Please wear your ½ mask respirator with cartridges when spraying or mixing chemicals; when applying chemicals or while sanding your projects. Keep your respirator clean and stored in a sealed bag when not in use.
  • Shared Shop Spaces: Drying Room, Composite Room, Spray Booths, 3D Labs, Laser Labs – please be respectful and mindful of your fellow students by keeping the rooms clean, free of trash, clutter, debris and stored materials.
  • Cutting Safety: Practice caution when using cutting tools, use appropriate table or desk location for cutting, dispose of all used or broken blades in appropriate receptacles located in the shop.
  • Stay Focused: Stay alert, focused and calm during these last two weeks of the term.

If you have any questions or are in need of additional guidance or clarification, please do not hesitate to contact Cynthia Quentin, Director of Environmental Health and Safety at cynthia.quentin@artcenter.edu , mobile: 626-485-3207 or send an email to ehs@artcenter.edu .

Thank you in advance for your support and cooperation.

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