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Creative Minds

Douglas Rushkoff

courtesy of the author


(Theater mfa 86), Public Intellectual, Author, Documentarian, Educator Taking on some of today’s thorniest issues in media, technology, culture and economics, Douglas Rushkoff is a cnn commentator and award-winning Frontline documentarian, author of numerous best-selling books of cultural criticism (Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for the Digital Age, Life Inc.: How Corporations Conquered the World and How to Take It Back) and graphic novels (a.d.d.), and globe-trotting lecturer. He holds multiple degrees, including a master’s degree in Directing from the Institute. “CalArts taught me how to engage with the world as an artist,” he says. “Where I went to college, being an artist was more of a lifestyle choice. At CalArts, I found people who understood that it’s about the work: the work of actually making art, and the work of experiencing the world so honestly it hurts. As an environment, the Institute provides the safety to develop those dual traits because, believe me, it’s a whole lot harder to do it in the real world, where market forces and other bad guys want to squash anything that helps wake people up from the consumerist stupor.

Allison Schulnik (Film/Video bfa 00), Artist, Filmmaker “My fixation on rejects and misfits is not intended to exploit deficiencies,” says Allison Schulnik of the enigmatic, forlorn, lumpish—yet markedly sensuous— figures that populate her work, alternately in paintings, stop-motion animated films, sculptures and drawings. “I’m trying to find valor in adversity,” she declares. “Whether they’re hobo clowns, misshapen animals or alien beasts, the characters usually have an awkward humanity,” Schulnik explains. “I like to blend earthly fact, blatant fiction, and lots of oil paint and clay to form tragedy, farce, and raw, dark beauty. Sometimes it’s capturing an otherworldly buffoonery, and other times it’s presenting a down-to-earth dignified moment.” Having arrived at CalArts with a background in painting, as well as some dance, she began taking cues from films, cartoons, comics and music as she worked closely with three of CalArts’ most venerated, beloved animation faculty—Jules Engel, Mike Mitchell and Corny Cole. “They were the most amazing people, and the best teachers for me,” she says, recalling how her distinctive style of figuration, using thick, goopy paint and robustly handled clay, took on more confident, evocative shapes across a variety of media. “I’ve been making the characters in different media and then deciding what works the best visually.” After graduating, Schulnik took jobs at small animation studios and did not make a film for another eight years. By 2007, finding little satisfaction in making work aimed at small children, she decided to turn

full-time to the churnings of her own idiosyncratic imagination. Since then, while her stop-motion claymations have been selected by festivals in Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Melbourne and elsewhere, her output has been shown primarily in galleries and museums in the U.S. and Europe. “I like exhibiting the paintings and the films together,” Schulnik says, “to create a sense of conversation between the two.” The artist’s latest claymation, Mound, was the centerpiece of a one-person show last fall at ZieherSmith in New York. It also screened last month at lacma in connection with In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States. “Mound is a celebration of the moving painting, featuring animation as a very physical macabre dance,” she says. “Like all of my videos, it’s a purist hand-made claymation, with all the effects done in-camera.” Schulnik’s current gallery show is on view through July 7 at Mark Moore Gallery in Culver City.

courtesy of the artist

“I was doing theater and film because there was no such thing as ‘multimedia’ quite yet. I ended up becoming a writer and speaker and thinker about how networking changes what it means to be a human being—but also how it changes economics, values and politics. I make TV documentaries instead of narrative films like I did at school; and I do solo, improvised speeches instead of dramatic plays. But the skills are basically the same. Without the theater training, I wouldn’t be as good at standing up in front of a few thousand people every week or so, or doing my appearances on Colbert or cnn. And without the storytelling and film classes I had with [former Film/Video dean] Sandy Mackendrick, I’d be making random documentary. “Most of all, though, I look to CalArts as the place where I got both the discipline and freedom to make what mattered to me matter to others.” OPPOSITE Bottom left: Still from Anna Brady Nuse’s dance film What Comes Between Fear and Sex, 2011, 14 min.

Top: Condola Rashad as Sophie (left) and Quincy Tyler Bernstine in the 2010 L.A. production of Lynn Nottage’s Ruined

THIS PAGE Top left: Douglas Rushkoff

Above: Still from Allison Schulnik’s claymation video Mound, 2011, 4:20 min.

CalArts Magazine #12