The Pool, Issue 7

Page 1


Issue 7 Summer / Fall 2020

John Baldessari

Oceans and Artists

Coronavirus Disrupts

A remembrance of his teacher by James Welling

A new wave of activism tackles climate crisis

During extraordinary times, teaching continues creatively


Contributors THE POOL ISSUE 7 Summer/Fall 2020 Published semi-annually by the Office of Marketing & Communications at CalArts. PRESIDENT

Ravi S. Rajan

Adam Smeltz is a former newspaper

Steve Kandell has been a writer

and editor at outlets including SPIN, The New York Times, and BuzzFeed News and is currently an editor at Apple Music. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

reporter who covered local and state news in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He lives near Philadelphia with his wife, journalist Lexi Belculfine, and their mini poodle.




Harmony Frederick EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


Kat Catmur (Art MFA 14) Roman Jaster (Art BFA 07) CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Kat Catmur, Greg Houle, Roman Jaster, Taya Zoormandan

James Welling is a New York-based

Los Angeles-based artist Lari Pittman received both his BFA (74) and MFA (76) from CalArts. His work has been featured in renowned exhibitions such as Documenta, the Venice Biennale, and the Whitney Biennial. Pittman is currently a professor in the Department of Art at UCLA.

postconceptual artist who has worked in, and experimented with, a number of photographic modalities. Welling received both his BFA (72) and MFA (74) from CalArts and was John Baldessari’s teaching assistant from 1973–74.


Steve Kandell (Critical Studies MFA 98) CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Kate Silver, Elizabeth Liang (Film/Video MFA 18), Katie Dunham COVER ART



Melissanthi Saliba VIDEOGRAPHY

Nicolas Savignano (Film/Video MFA 15) PROOF READING

The Pool thanks Stuart Frolick, previous editor-in-chief and longtime CalArts staff member, for his dedication to this magazine.

Taya Zoormandan, Caroline Pardilla AD DESIGN

Stuart Smith (Art MFA 02), Julie Moon (Art MFA 11), Aren Williams (Art MFA 21)

Taya Zoormandan is a writer who

serves as a Digital Content and Social Media Producer at CalArts. Her personal artistic practice includes concept design and portraiture in both traditional and digital media.


Cover Art

Inside Covers

Aura (John Baldessari 2003), 2018 by Anne Collier (Art BFA 93). This piece is also part of 50+50. See story on page 12.

a great ocean of nonknow­ ledge, 2019 by Armando Martinez-Celis (Art BFA 13).

CalArts Alumni Magazine


Debbie Stears, Denise Nelson PRINTING

Publishers Press, Lebanon Junction, Kentucky TYPEFACES

Arnhem by OurType, Soleil by TypeTogether, Prophet by Dinamo, Sabon by Jan Tschichold, Lapture by Just Another Foundry, Digestive by OH no Type, PLAK by Paul Renner


55 Alumnx HQ 63 Class Notes 81 In Memoriam

From the President

10 Letters from You 11 Buzz

26 Remembering John

James Welling recounts the excitement of studying under John Baldessari in the early days of CalArts.


40 Sprawling

Cornucopian Paintings The phantasmagoric world of Lari Pittman.

34 Waves of

48 Adjusting to


CalArts students of the Graphic Design Program and the School of Film/Video collaborate with the World Resources Institute in search of artistic solutions for our oceans in crisis.

COVID Reality After the coronavirus pandemic ended in-person classes, teachers and students looked for creative ways to continue the CalArts experience virtually.

First and Last Pages As the pandemic upended campus life, two editorial cartoons by current students in the Character Animation Program, Kim McMahon (Film/Video BFA 21) and Siti Lu (Film/Video BFA 21), caught our eyes.

We sincerely wish that this finds you safe and healthy! The Pool

CalArts Is it time to consider MFA Art ? Beatriz Cortez ( ART MFA 15 )

Visual artist, writer, cultural and literary critic, and professor Beatriz Cortez earned her Art MFA in 2015. Her work has drawn the attention of the art world. Cairn, composed of volcanic rock, was described by The New York Times art critic Roberta Smith as a “fragile balancing act that speaks volumes about the precariousness of life today.” She has had solo exhibitions at the Craft Contemporary Museum and the Vincent Price Art Museum, both in Los Angeles (2016), as well as the Centro Cultural de España de El Salvador and the Museo Municipal Tecleño (MUTE) in her native El Salvador. Her work has also been included in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Whitney Museum, New York; BANK/MABSOCIETY, Shanghai; and Centro Cultural Metropolitano, Quito; among others across the world. Cortez is a recipient of the Los Angeles Artadia Award (2020), the inaugural Frieze LIFEWTR Sculpture Prize (2019), the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2018), the Artist Community Engagement Grant (2017), and the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2016). She teaches in the Department of Central American Studies at California State University, Northridge. Beatriz Cortez is represented by Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. CalArts’ two-year program will invite you to question accepted ideas about contemporary art by providing you critical feedback from crossdisciplinary faculty members and guest artists. We will work with you to strengthen your individual work, within and across a wide range of media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, digital imaging, sculpture, installation, video, film, writing, and performance. In our community of artists, you will learn different strands of process and critique, learning to build as well as deconstruct as you uncover new ways to shape the physical world, and, by extension, the political and social realities within. Take the next step to learn more about earning your CalArts MFA in Art at

“CalArts was the perfect school for me because it encourages interdisciplinarity and critical thought. I felt that a scholar and intellectual like myself would feel at home at CalArts, and it was true … my experience at CalArts was refreshing. It opened my eyes to many new things.”

art. calarts. edu

CalArts School of Theater Defining Performance for the 21st Century Design and Production BFA Specializations: Costume Design Scene Design Lighting Design Sound Design Stage Management Technical Direction Experience Design/ Themed Entertainment

Program in Design and Production Capitalizing on Los Angeles as a global hub for creative stage and media professionals, the multidisciplinary programs in Design and Production offer you intensive professional instruction in a variety of areas. Increasingly, these individual disciplines are finding new and rewarding expressions in various global media markets, immersive environments, and innovative live performances. Sequential in structure, the programs consist of classroom study and hands-on production, allowing you to acquire broad aesthetic knowledge and practical technique. You will also develop a professional-caliber portfolio— a requirement for careers in theater, film, and other directions in art and entertainment.


MFA Programs: Costume Design Scene Design Specializations: Applied Arts Interactive Media for Performance Lighting Design Sound Design Technical Direction Creative Producing and Management: Stage Management Specializations: MFA only Producing Production Management For more information:



Immersed in both the traditional contexts of world music and emerging contemporary applications, the World Music Specializations provided by The Herb Alpert School of Music are designed to give students the skills necessary to lead by example. In addition to developing their practices in the contexts of traditional world music, students also focus on contemporary experiments in performance. The programs include the opportunity to work within the areas of composition and improvisation, drawing from the creative eclecticism of the larger CalArts community, as well as the rich cultural diversity of Los Angeles as a global crossroads.


Production Still from 2019 Resident Irene de Boer

Programs: Youth • Pre-College • Summer Intensive • Online Extended Studies at CalArts offers credit- and non-credit bearing options for creative exploration in the arts, on the ground and online, and on- and off-campus. Our offerings are developed with the same artistic flavor and integrity of the curricular courses at CalArts.

From the President

The world turned upside down. In less than a month’s time, we were forced to winnow down our Valencia campus operations as much as we could. This dramatic change was driven by COVID-19 and our mutual efforts as a country to slow its spread. Faculty members scrambled to redeploy the spring curriculum into a remote learning framework. Students were forced to halt their projects and routines, and patiently wait for a new mode of learning to begin, one that none of us were expecting. And we all adapted to daily life from behind closed doors, amidst a world of bad news. For all that’s changed since this global pandemic took hold, it’s especially important to honor our commitment to transform the world through artistic practice—something we cannot allow to change. While we scatter across a new CalArts diaspora, our mission remains firmly grounded in the same openness, experimentation, and creative freedom that have always bound together CalArtians. Already, our values of persistence, rigor, and experimentation are guiding us through the ambiguity and challenges of our world today. As of this writing, in early April, we don’t know when everyone will be allowed to return to campus. But we see artists from every corner of our community rising up to meet and shape this moment. This issue includes a story about our faculty’s journey to move their classes online. You can look forward to many more stories of the community response to the pandemic in our next issue and on the magazine’s website (

Meanwhile, I’d like to bring you up to speed on what was a remarkable start to 2020. Over the winter, we featured CalArts’ reaffirmed mission statement in the main lobby: an expression of our identity, commitment, and drive. To all, the words are unmistakably clear: You belong here. Our reaffirmed mission reads:

CalArts is a multidisciplinary community of artists. Our ongoing educational endeavor is grounded in openness, experimentation, critical engagement, and creative freedom. Through artistic practice, we transform ourselves, each other, and the world. This collective declaration came from an eightmonth, Institute-wide collaboration, the first element of the Strategic Visioning Project that we kicked off last academic year. Through a series of conversations with faculty, alumni, students, staff, and trustees, we mined CalArts’ earlier mission statement and honed our language. New drafts were reviewed and edited by the Strategic Visioning Committee and the CalArts community, engaging our new shared governance system for input, before the board took up its final review and ratification in December. This deliberate, exhaustive, and detailed process is a cornerstone of the overall visioning effort—to create a blueprint for how CalArts will establish itself and its priorities in US society, the arts communities, and the global square. It gives us, and our successors, clear guidance for protecting the fundamental


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elements at our core—the things that make CalArts, CalArts—and for experimenting boldly while navigating the new challenges the world presents to us. In March, the CalArts Board approved the outline for a Strategic Framework, which also went through our shared governance process. This formal step allows us to create yearly goals, and it makes tracking our progress toward these goals transparent, ensuring that our daily work together leads toward our larger aspirations. Expect to see this framework beginning this fall, when CalArts faculty and alumni will help to present it publicly. I’d like to extend my gratitude to the entire CalArts community for participating in the work that has brought us to this point. Your efforts have embodied the very values that tie us together as CalArtians: agency, distinction, empathy, inclusivity. These central ideas, reinvigorated and held up, promise to lead us through the tensions gnawing at society, and especially at higher education, in the US.

During these difficult times I’m grateful to be part of CalArts, and I’m inspired by the work that our community puts forth every day. We’re putting our mission into practice, especially as we all confront a crisis. Through our constant transformation of education and of the arts, we stand to strengthen our collective perspective, our lives, and our society. In this way, we fulfill our civic duty to heal. CalArtians were built for this moment. Let’s keep rising. Ravi Rajan, President CHEBON MARSHALL

As we write a new chapter of CalArts history, we build upon the more than five-decadeslong foundation laid by artists from the LA Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute, and the almost five more decades of artists who called Valencia, Calif., home. In this issue, we honor John Baldessari, a legendary Chouinard alum, who was a founding faculty member of the CalArts School of Art. His death on Jan. 2, at age 88, drew mourning from around the world. As the Los Angeles Times put it, John was “a gentle giant of conceptual art whose irreverent questions about the nature of art brought him international acclaim and shaped a generation of younger talent.” We all grieve as we find inspiration in his legacy.

Also in this issue, we delve into a new documentary that puts filmmaker and CalArts faculty member Nina Menkes in front of the camera for a change. Brainwashed had its start in Menkes’ popular lecture, “Sex and Power: The Visual Language of Oppression.” Plus, you’ll read about current students working to protect the world’s oceans.

Shortly before social distancing orders were implemented in March, CalArts President Ravi Rajan checks in on students living in the dorms.

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Letters from You

The Pool Issue 6 Winter/Spring 2020

Re: David Rosenboom

As a student, and later as a longtime employee at CalArts, I have known and worked with every dean of The Herb Alpert School of Music. In my opinion, David Rosenboom’s vision and sheer administrative chops make him— hands down—the best dean we’ve ever had. (Think: DMA program, Winter Session, a reimagined curriculum, Wild Beast Music Pavilion.) Staff who work in other schools and administrative offices at CalArts have often commented on how fortunate I and my colleagues in the School of Music were to be led so well and by such an even hand. David sees the Big Picture, is highly disciplined, and is usually the smartest person in the room. He is the first “boss” I have ever worked for with whom I would “go to the well.” Other music educators routinely look to David for insight into the future of music education. His private composition students with whom I work rave about their lessons with him. It is not easy to do justice, in words and pictures, to such a multi-talented and highly accomplished artist, educator, and administrator. Kudos to Stuart Frolick and the magazine’s design team for producing a well-deserved and fitting tribute to David! Alan Eder (Music MFA 84) Piano Technician, The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts Re: Taste Makers

Congratulations on launching the online version of The Pool. It’s a nice addition to have expanded information, including video without diminishing the value of the print edition. I hope that both formats will continue in the future. Print is still a critical part of communications. It was great reading “Taste Makers” about alumni who are using their CalArts educations to express artistic talents in media other than those they may have practiced as students. I am glad to see that they are being recognized as successful artists. As a CalArtian who successfully utilized my education in a career not directly related to my studies, I can relate to their experiences. I would imagine that there are many other alumni also working in areas different from the métiers they practiced at CalArts. It would be interesting to hear from others with similar stories. This reminds me of something David Brown (president of Art Center College of Design from 1985–99) used to say: “There is a great debate about whether creativity can be taught, but there is no debate that talent without training is lost.” We come to CalArts as students already being creative. It is the educational experience we receive working with outstanding faculty and other students that gives us the ability to become great artists, regardless of our chosen professional mediums. Keep up the great work!

The Pool’s new digital edition welcomes readers across the globe. Visit for expanded content to complement these pages. Watch video clips from interviews and performances, listen to podcast episodes, and view imagery and text in further detail. If you’d like to update your mailing address or opt for the online-only edition, please email

Meanwhile on Instagram …

Steve Weir (Art BFA 73, MFA 78) The Pool shared ideas on how to support our artist community during our times of physical distancing. If you are able to help, please do so!


CalArts Alumni Magazine


“These posters are not obedient works, they break rules, they misbehave, and sometimes they are an unruly mess.” —Michael Worthington vis-à-vis CalArts Poster Archive book, p.18

50+50: Alumni Support Scholarships With New Works Plus — John Keene, Randy Balsmeyer, Nina Menkes, Eliza Hittman, the CalArts Poster Book, ‘Hair Love,’ West Side Story, João Ribas, and remembering John Bache

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Alumni Support Scholarships with New Works

CalArts Launches 50+ 50 at REDCAT In February, CalArts launched 50+50: A Creative Century from Chouinard to CalArts, an unprecedented alumni artist-led scholarship endowment initiative. In partnership with publisher Lisa Ivorian-Jones, CalArts commissioned and is selling editions and limited series artwork by a prominent group of 50 alumni artists from the Chouinard Art Institute and the School of Art. Representing a broad range of cross-generational, cross-disciplinary art-making, the new editioned works and limited series will continue to be released in curated groupings. Sales of the 50+50 artwork is generating crucial funding for the School of Art Alumni Scholarship endowment, which provides essential financial support for students. CalArts has 12

CalArts Alumni Magazine


Gala Porras-Kim’s Composite Artifact (2019) in front of Naotaka Hiro’s Untitled (2018/19) at REDCAT. BOTTOM

John Baldessari’s Quack (2018) in front of Laddie John Dill’s CalArts Light (2018) at REDCAT. OPPOSITE LEFT

Invisible (2018) by Barbara T. Smith. OPPOSITE RIGHT

Lucky Charm (2019) by Tony Oursler.




made increased scholarship funding a critical priority for the continued recruitment and retention of the very best art students, regardless of their financial means. The launch of 50+50’s inaugural exhibition was a featured event of the Frieze Los Angeles VIP program. On view in the gallery at REDCAT from Feb. 12 to March 22, the exhibition was organized by REDCAT exhibition manager Carmen Amengual (Art MFA 16) and School of Art faculty Michael Ned Holte. In addition, Andrea Bowers and Laddie John Dill, two of the participating artists from the 50+50 initiative, were part of a panel discussion organized by CalArts at Frieze Los Angeles. Their conversation focused on the importance of artists supporting their peers and expanding their roles as patrons. Mary Clare Stevens, executive director of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts also participated, and Anne Ellegood, executive director of the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, was moderator. This important effort has received leadership support from CROZIER and Frieze New York. Additional support has been provided by Collector Systems, providing cloud-based collections management, by Frieze Los Angeles, and by Joshua White, fine art photographer. — Marylou Ferry

2020 Artists

Upcoming Artists

John Baldessari (Chouinard 59)

Ericka Beckman (MFA 76) Larry Bell (Chouinard 59) Nayland Blake (MFA 84) Ross Bleckner (MFA 73) Barbara Bloom (BFA 72) Andrea Bowers (MFA 92) Beatriz Cortez (MFA 15) Victoria Fu (MFA 05) Malik Gaines (MFA 99) Liz Glynn (MFA 08) Lauren Halsey (BFA 12) Lyle Ashton Harris (MFA 90) Richard Hawkins (MFA 88) Jason Kraus (BFA 08) Liz Larner (BFA 85) Jonathan Lasker (BFA 77) Dashiell Manley (BFA 07) Daniel Joseph Martinez (BFA 79) Rita McBride (MFA 87) Adam McEwen (BFA 91) Rodney McMillian (MFA 02) Josephine Meckseper (MFA 92) Dave Muller (MFA 93) Matthew Mullican (BFA 74) Kelly Nipper (MFA 95) Alexandra Olson (MFA 08) Catherine Opie (MFA 88) Laura Owens (MFA 94) Lari Pittman (BFA 74, MFA 76) Andy Robert (MFA 11) Allen Ruppersberg (Chouinard 67) David Salle (BFA 73, MFA 75) Pieter Schoolwerth (MFA 93) Jim Shaw (MFA 78) Gary Simmons (MFA 90) Henry Taylor (BFA 95) Kaari Upson (BFA 04, MFA 07) James Welling (BFA 72, MFA 74) Christopher Williams (BFA 79, MFA 81) B. Wurtz (MFA 80)

Anne Collier (BFA 93) Laddie John Dill (Chouinard 68) Joe Goode (Chouinard 61) Naotaka Hiro (MFA 00) Tony Oursler (BFA 79) Gala Porras-Kim (MFA 09) Stephen Prina (MFA 80) Barbara T. Smith (Chouinard 65) Carrie Mae Weems (BFA 81)

For images and further details, please visit For pricing and sales inquiries, please contact Ivorian-Jones Fine Art at 212-229-6762 or For other questions regarding the 50+50 initiative, please contact Heather Suran at CalArts, 661-291-3435 or

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Nina Menkes gave her talk ‘Sex and Power: The Visual Language of Oppression’ at CalArts in January. The talk served as inspiration for her documentary Brainwashed.

The film explores how film directors from the 1940s to the present have undercut and disempowered women through “a gendered system of shot design,” says Menkes. She chose the name Brainwashed because the approaches to filming women are so ingrained that often the directors themselves don’t realize what they’re doing. She shares an example from Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, in which the opening shots introduce Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray. With Johansson: “It’s a closeup of her butt in see-through underwear.” With Murray: “We see his face, he’s driving in a taxi, he’s coming into Tokyo, he’s looking around, he’s tired,” she says. “We get who he is, he’s a human being. Her, she’s introduced through her derriere.” That kind of underwear shot, she adds, is something we almost never see with a heterosexual male character. The fragmented body part technique is New Menkes Documentary just one of many standard techniques used in filming women, specifically. Menkes says other common devices involve fantasy lighting, body pans (often in slow motion), and a sexualized body that exists outside of the narrative flow. Even when women are playing powerful roles such as CEOs, their presence is often undercut As a filmmaker, Nina Menkes is used to being by shot maneuvers that objectify them. And that, behind the camera. Lately, she’s put herself in says Menkes, is where the danger lies. front of the lens as the central character in the “I believe that it teaches [viewers] to see new documentary Brainwashed, which explores women as sexualized objects above everything how camera angles, camera movement, lightelse. Being the object means that you are the ing, framing, and other shot design techniques use object of someone else’s pleasure. It’s not contribute to the oppression of women in about you and your own experience,” she says. Hollywood and beyond. Menkes goes on to explain that this disempowThe film, which is supported by Tim Disney, erment of women is, in part, responsible for co-founder of Uncommon Productions and disparity in pay and employment and even conchair of the CalArts Board of Trustees, is curtributes to sexual assault and sexual abuse in rently in post-production. The project is an outHollywood and beyond. “I call it the bedrock growth of the talk, “Sex and Power: The Visual language of rape culture,” she says. Language of Oppression” (See “The Big Idea” in In producing the documentary, Menkes The Pool 3, 2018), which Menkes has given for hopes more directors become aware of many years to her students at CalArts, where she serves as faculty in the School of Film/Video. the repercussions of these kinds of choices. With the anger and momentum of the #MeToo “I hope an illumination happens,” she says. With Brainwashed, she aims to stop movement at a fever pitch, she presented the talk at Sundance Film Festival in 2018. The pow- the brainwashing. —Kate Silver erful response told Menkes that the material needed to reach a wider audience, and the seed was planted to make it into a feature film.

How Cinema Disempowers Women


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Eliza Hittman’s New Film

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Sidney Flanigan stars as Autumn in in Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always.

Visit to hear snippets from the soundtrack, which was scored by fellow CalArtian Julia Holter (Music-IM MFA 09).



Never Rarely Sometimes Always, the third feature by Eliza Hittman (Film/Video MFA 10), was already a critical success before its public release. The poignant drama, which focuses on two teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania who seek help for an unintended pregnancy, had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, earning a Special Jury Award. The following month at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), the film won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize. It easily became one of the top-reviewed films of the new year. And then came March. Never Rarely Sometimes Always opened in select theaters on March 13, but the coronavirus pandemic forced Focus Features to pull the film a few days later. It was eventually rereleased on April 3 as a premium video-on-demand option while people were under “stay-at-home” orders. A timely, powerful, and political work, Hittman’s film addresses women’s rights through the journey of the pregnant Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder). At first, Autumn seeks

help from her local women’s clinic, which turns out to be affiliated with an anti-abortion organization. After researching options, the two realize they need to travel to New York City in order to have the procedure. Their trip becomes complicated, and Autumn and Skylar must spend two days and nights alone in the city. Although the trip is fraught with stress and tension, their bond and friendship grow stronger. Hittman first began researching and developing the film in 2012, when she first learned of the story of a 31-year-old dentist Savita Halappanavar, living in Ireland. Pregnant with her first child, Halappanavar began to miscarry. She was admitted to a hospital where, even though her condition worsened, her requests for an emergency abortion were denied. Halappanavar died of sepsis a week later. During a deep dive into abortion laws in Ireland, Hittman learned of an informal network that helped women cross borders from the 1980s to the 2000s. “Women who wanted an abortion needed to travel to London,” Hittman said during a phone interview from her home in New York. She was drawn to the untold stories of these women’s journeys and wrote a treatment for a film set in Ireland. Its scale was a little too ambitious, and Hittman looked for a “US version of the story.” She and her partner Scott Cummings (Film/Video MFA 07)—who edited all three of Hittman’s features (It Felt Like Love, Beach Rats, and Never Rarely Sometimes Always)—discovered that they could drive a short distance from New York City and find locations stuck in time, such as small coal towns in Pennsylvania, where part of the film was set and shot. Immersing herself into the process, Hittman did firsthand fieldwork for Never Rarely Sometimes Always. She traveled to small towns to see what reproductive healthcare services were available to women living there, spoke to the workers, and even took questionnaires and pregnancy tests to see what the visits would be like for a young woman like Autumn. “I wanted to be able to write those scenes, and I didn’t want to do stereotypes,” she said. The film’s subject matter may be controversial, but Hittman was determined to tell the unflinching truths of her characters. “The way I make films now is the same process I developed at CalArts. Take risks and commit to the process.” —Christine N. Ziemba

Director Eliza Hittman (Film/Video MFA 10) on the set of her film Never Rarely Sometimes Always.

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CalArts Dancers Make Broadway Debut

For more information, photos, and trailers from the Broadway revival of West Side Story, visit

West Side Story Revival. Purists, Beware.

The revival of West Side Story opened on Feb. 20 in New York—with three CalArts dancers making their Broadway debuts. Belgian director Ivo van Hove’s modern adaptation of the Romeo and Juliet–inspired musical marked the first time a major New York production opted not to perform the original choreography by the legendary Jerome Robbins. Kevin Zambrano (Dance BFA 18), Marissa Brown (Dance MFA 20), and Audrey Collette (Dance BFA 19) from The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance were among the 33 cast members performing for the first time on the Great White Way. They worked with van Hove collaborator and noted choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, whose new dance pieces borrow moves from hip-hop, Afro-Cuban, and salsa influences. Purists might be wary of straying too far from Robbins’ snappy street ballet, but the new production is set over a 48-hour period in the present day, so the changes more accurately reflect America’s culture and the show’s immediacy. Gone from the revival is “I Feel Pretty”; the gangs are more diverse; and videos are used throughout the intermission-less show.


The cast of West Side Story in an updated version of the classic ’50s musical.


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Some of the performers, including Brown (as Francisca), shoot video with the footage projected onto large screens. “This role is different than anything I’ve ever done,” she said. “Performing on Broadway feels like another new experience that I’m grateful to navigate through and learn.” As an ensemble swing performer in the show, Collette must be ready at any time to cover one of three different videographer roles: Mouthpiece, Gee-tar, and Brown’s Francisca. “These performers are unlike any other in the show, as they are providing a first-person perspective to the audience through a handheld camera that they operate, in character, onstage,” she said.

Gone is “I Feel Pretty”; the gangs are more diverse; and videos are used throughout the show. “I was hired for this role for my background in dance and film, the latter of which is a passion I discovered at CalArts,” Collette added. Zambrano plays Moose, a member of the Shark street gang. During the rehearsal process, he was asked to improvise, create choreographic material, and to execute precise scene work. “Throughout the performance, we’re dealing with highly energetic choreography, fight scenes, and rain onstage,” he said. “This show has pushed me as an artist and performer, as well as what it means to be a professional dancer in this day and age.” The CalArtians’ Broadway debuts were put on pause only a short few weeks after opening night because of the COVID-19 outbreak. All New York theaters, including West Side Story at The Broadway Theater, went dark at 5 p.m. on March 12, by order of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The cast hopes to return to the stage as soon as the orders are lifted. ­—Christine N. Ziemba



A gift to the CalArts Fund makes an immediate impact on our students’ lives. But it does more than that. Your support sends a clear message that you believe our community of artists should remain vital and continue to innovate, experiment, and grow.



New Book Celebrates 40 Years of CalArts Posters “CalArts is its own city, its own world, an alternate universe where posters rule!” writes Michael Worthington (Art MFA 95), CalArts Graphic Design faculty, in a new book celebrating the remarkable CalArts Poster Archive. Released in April by MW Books, Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts, 1980–2019 provides an inside look at the ephemeral history of the Institute, revealing CalArts as a haven for postmodern graphic design. Featuring more than 500 student and faculty–designed posters, the comprehensive compendium reveals the long and rich history of graphic designers producing experimental posters for the countless artists, musicians, performers, dancers, and thinkers who have visited CalArts over the years. 18

CalArts Alumni Magazine

It also features work from a who’s who of Southern California graphic design from the last half century. The book includes influential CalArts faculty Ed Fella and April Greiman, as well as esteemed alumni Denise Gonzales Crisp (MFA 96), Geoff McFetridge (MFA 95), N. Silas Munro (MFA 08), Brian Roettinger (BFA 04), Andrea Tinnes (MFA 98), Tim Belonax (MFA 11), Barbara Glauber (MFA 90), Zak Kyes (BFA 05), and many others. “What all these posters have in common is that they have existed outside the mainstream, barely engaging with the visible canon of design,” Worthington, who also edited the book, explains. “They have been made for a narrow audience, sometimes of one (the designer), and have existed inside the Institute—albeit a radical experimental institute—but outside the traditional function of design, without the traditional designer/client relationship. These are not obedient works, they break rules, they misbehave, and sometimes they are an unruly mess.” Since CalArts first opened its doors in 1970, students and faculty have designed, printed, and hung thousands of posters on campus

to announce events to its captive audience. It wasn’t until the late ’90s, after the Northridge earthquake caused considerable damage to CalArts, that faculty members Shelley Stepp and Kary Arimoto-Mercer began collecting posters from the hallways. As the archive grew, additional faculty began to donate from their personal collections, and a formal process for acquiring designs from students was established. In late 2016, thanks to funding from the Graphic Design program’s acclaimed online courses, a three-year plan was conceived to digitize the archive and create a website, an exhibition, and a publication. More than 2,000 posters—ranging in production techniques from offset printing to handmade Xeroxed flyers, with most produced as silk screen prints—are currently online, with more than 1,000 others yet to be photographed and uploaded. Inside Out & Upside Down features 70 different covers made by CalArts faculty, alumni, and students. The poster images are accompanied by interviews and essays from renowned designers and CalArtians Louise Sandhaus (MFA 94), Sarah Gottesdiener (MFA 13), Ian Lynam (MFA 04), Lorraine Wild (faculty), Jon Sueda (MFA 02), Gail Swanlund (MFA 92), Jeffery Keedy (faculty), and more. A related exhibition, Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts 1970–2019, will open at REDCAT later this year. It will also include rare posters from the Institute’s first decade, as well as posters designed for CalArts affiliates such as the former Machine Project gallery and REDCAT itself. —Katie Dunham

Books are available for purchase at


Spreads from Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts, 1980–2019, published in spring 2020.

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AT THE APEX of creative experimentation, CalArts’ dynamic and innovative MFA Creative Writing program is designed for writers to explore a range of forms and styles. Rather than limit students’ courses of study toward a single genre, students have the freedom to explore fiction, poetry, and nonfiction through an exciting mix of workshops, seminars, and labs intended to inspire the generation of new methods, fresh forms, and expanded practices.

Weaving a path through the Institute’s course offerings, the Program’s four concentrations—Writing + Its Publics, Documentary Strategies, Image + Text, and Writing + Performativity—foster interdisciplinary techniques and approaches as students cultivate their writing alongside the other arts.


CalArts MFA writers are encouraged to situate their creative practice in a critical context—to engage with the aesthetic and cultural movements, theory and politics of contemporary writing, and to think hard about what, why, and how they write. Through the Writing Now Visiting Writers Series and myriad opportunities for professional refine, the program offers graduate students the chance to further develop both their practice and their knowledge base in conversation with the people, projects, and ideas particularly relevant to the world of writing and publishing today.



Keene on Style


Writer in Residence John Keene

John Keene’s collection of short fiction, Counternarratives, was published by New Directions and received the 2016 American Book Award.

Distinguished author, poet, and educator John Keene was the 2020 Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence at CalArts. His talk “Notes on Style” was delivered in January to an appreciative audience of students and faculty in the School of Critical Studies and attendees of the Finance Fictions conference hosted by the Aesthetics and Politics Master’s program. The erudite Keene addressed many factors contributing to a writer’s achievement of a singular voice. “The touchstone of writing is emotion,” he said. Keene also spoke of the “ethics of style,” of the importance of “truthfulness of representation,” and of “style as lyric prose.” Citing Flaubert’s Madame Bovary as an example, Keene suggested that a writer’s style can reveal a relationship to privilege; that throughout Flaubert’s work, the writer “constantly showed the meretriciousness of the times he lived in.” And, that Flaubert “anticipated our own time— postmodernism as a lived reality—not just as a literary or artistic construct.” Keene said that he believes “people are starved for stories in which characters like themselves appear,” telling the readers’ own stories through them. A slideshow of differing manuscript pages produced by a wide range of writers illustrated Keene’s talk. Referring to those pages in the Q&A session, Keene reminded the audience that the word “style” refers to the stylus, and that a writer’s tools are important to the content produced with them. He spoke of how writing in longhand is still practiced by some writers because “it slows the process down,” and how Friedrich Nietzsche, the first known writer to use a typewriter, was aided by the speed it enabled. Keene closed by acknowledging that “images have taken primacy over written text” and that “technology is shaping writers’ genres, forms, and styles.” Keene is the author of the novel Annotations; the poetry collection Seismosis (in collaboration with artist Christopher Stackhouse); the translator of Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst’s novel, Letters from a Seducer; and author of

the short fiction collection Counternarratives, which received a 2016 American Book Award and Lannan Literary Award. In 2017, it was also awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction and the UK’s inaugural Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses.

“People are starved for stories in which characters like themselves appear.” Keene’s other work includes GRIND, an arttext collaboration with photographer Nicholas Muellner, and Playland, a poetry chapbook. In 2018, Keene was awarded a five-year MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, for his work “exploring the impact of historical narratives on contemporary lives and reimagining the history of the Americas from the perspective of suppressed voices.” The Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence is named for the MFA Creative Writing Program’s late alum, whose work to bring emerging and established writers together is honored by the series. The residency is made possible by generous donations from the Jacobson family. It is designed to bring a prestigious writer to campus for a public reading, a classroom visit, and to meet with students in one-on-one sessions. —Stuart Frolick

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Visuals Effects and Title Designer Randy Balsmeyer

In addition to the whizbang effects, he says that technology today allows him to do a lot more refining in post-production, such as removing a blink here or changing the angle of an arm there. “Thirty years ago, you would not have considered doing something like that. You’d just live with it,” he says. COURTESY OF RANDY BALSMEYER

‘I heard you paint houses’ in 29 Languages There’s a sequence in Martin Scorsese’s film The Irishman that consumed Randy Balsmeyer (Art BFA 73) for weeks. It’s a seemingly simple series of text seen a few minutes into the film. White block letters flash on black: I HEARD (then a shot of a moving road) YOU (more moving road) PAINT HOUSES. It’s code for “I understand you do assassinations.” But because this movie was released on Netflix, and would play in more than 190 countries, the text needed translation. As title designer for The Irishman, that fell to Balsmeyer, who worked with Scorsese’s editors and Netflix translators around the world. “My job is to make it all get on screen, make sense, and look good,” he says. “It was 29 languages that we did it for.” The back-and-forth to adapt that sequence, and others with text in the film, took two months. For Balsmeyer, globalization is simply the latest adjustment in the ever-changing film industry, where he’s worked since the 1980s, doing title design, visual effects, cinematography, and directing alongside notable filmmakers such as David Cronenberg, Joel and Ethan Coen, Jim Jarmusch, and Scorsese. Right now, he’s wrapping work on Spike Lee’s latest film, Da 5 Bloods, about four Vietnam veterans who return to Vietnam 50 years after the war to find the remains of their platoon leader and dig up a chest of gold they’d buried. Balsmeyer, the visual effects supervisor, is overseeing more than 400 visual effects shots, including a helicopter crash, battles, and landmine explosions. 22

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Balsmeyer describes his career path as a “series of accidents.” A few years after graduating from CalArts, he was hired by a small film company in Seattle called Alpha Cine, where he used an early computerized animation camera called the Oxberry to experiment with visuals and title design. He moved to New York in 1980 to work with R/Greenberg Associates, a leading new company in title design, and then opened his own visual effects and title company, Balsmeyer & Everett, Inc., with his now ex-wife, Mimi Everett. In 2001, he became its sole owner and changed the name to Big Film Design. His filmography includes such recognizable titles such as Shutter Island, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Wolf of Wall Street, Spotlight, and The Dead Don’t Die. That list continues to grow—as he’s also working on the title sequence for Ron Howard’s latest film, Hillbilly Elegy. “It’s been a long, crazy ride,” he says. After that film’s in the can, who knows? His life, like the movies, is a narrative full of surprises. “I’m still working on the script,” he says. —Kate Silver


CalArtians Star in Award Season

Still from ‘Hair Love’ co-directed by Bruce W. Smith (Film/Video BFA 83).

‘Hair Love’ Wins Oscar for Best Animated Short Representation matters. That was the underlying theme of this year’s Academy Awards, held on Feb. 9 in Hollywood. Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite made history as the first (South) Korean and non-English film to capture the night’s biggest prize, Best Picture. And with its own Oscar win, the animated short film “Hair Love,” which was directed by Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr., and CalArts alum Bruce W. Smith (Film/Video BFA 83), also made a statement about the need for diversity in front of—and behind—the camera. The seven-minute film focuses on the relationship between African American father Stephen, his 7-year-old daughter Zuri, and her hair. When Stephen’s wife, who usually does Zuri’s hair, is unavailable before a big event, Stephen has to figure it out. But Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. The film began as ex-NFL player Cherry’s Kickstarter project, which was fully funded. The story resonated with people who wanted to see more representation in mainstream animated projects, as well as with others who wanted to promote pride in textured hair among young people of color. “Hair Love” won the Short Film (Animated) category that also featured fellow CalArtian Siqi Song’s (Film/Video MFA 16) “Sister.” Song’s film about China’s one-child policy was her CalArts thesis film.

Other films to take home the Oscar statuettes included Ford v. Ferrari, directed by CalArts alum James Mangold (Film/Video BFA 85), and Toy Story 4. Mangold’s film won for Sound Editing (Donald Sylvester) and Film Editing (Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland). Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4, which was directed by Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen, and Jonas Rivera, won the Oscar in the Animated Feature Film category. Several CalArtians were involved in the making of the film, including alum Andrew Stanton (Film/Video BFA 87), who wrote the screenplay with Stephany Folsom. Stanton also served as one of Toy Story 4’s executive producers, alongside CalArtian Pete Docter (Film/Video BFA 90) and others. Klaus, directed by CalArts alumnus Sergio Pablos (Film/Video 92), was also nominated in the Animated Feature Film category. His film swept the animation industry’s Annie Awards, winning all seven categories for which it was nominated, including Best Animated Feature and Best Direction. ­—Christine N. Ziemba

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Members of the search committee celebrate with João Ribas (center), the newly appointed executive director of REDCAT. Edgar Miramontes (second from right) was promoted to deputy executive director and curator. Also, left to right: Michael Ned Holte (faculty), Berenice Reynaud (faculty), Tracie Costantino (provost and search committee chair), and Chi-wang Yang (faculty). Not pictured: Tim Disney (chair of CalArts Board of Trustees and search committee member).

Bem-vindo, João Ribas Internationally Renowned Curator to Lead REDCAT REDCAT is often recognized for bolstering global connections across the arts, and now with the announcement of João Ribas as the Steven D. Lavine Executive Director of REDCAT and Vice President for Cultural Partnerships, those connections take on a new dimension. Ribas, the former director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal, has built an internationally renowned curatorial practice. Working with artists from around the world, he’s organized numerous exhibitions internationally, including the work of Frances Stark, Amalia Pica, Nairy Baghramian, Rachel Rose, Nick Mauss, Sun Xun, The Otolith Group, and Martine Syms, among others. “João’s experience working with diverse artists to present new work to audiences aligns with REDCAT’s mission as a multidisciplinary center for innovative, risk-taking work,” said CalArts President Ravi Rajan. “And his championing of free expression aligns with the values integral to CalArts’ community of artists.” REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater and CalArts’ downtown center for contemporary arts, is moving in exciting directions as it approaches its third decade. “I have long followed REDCAT’s innovative program and have worked with many of the 24

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same visual, performing, and media artists over the years,” Ribas said. “And the creativity that CalArts fosters has also been of long-standing inspiration.” Prior to his work with the Serralves, Ribas held positions at the MIT List Visual Arts Center and the Drawing Center in New York. He curated the fourth edition of the Ural Biennial in 2017 and served as curator for the Portuguese Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. Arts and culture have been at the center of Ribas’ life. Born in Braga, Portugal, in 1979, Ribas moved to Newark, NJ, in 1988 and stayed in the tri-state area for more than two decades. Ribas has taught at the Yale University School of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts in New York. His writing on the arts has been published in numerous publications and monographs, and in magazines and newspapers such as The Guardian, Artforum, Afterall, Artnews, Art in America, Frieze, Mousse, and Spike. “As a writer and educator himself, João understands the importance of connecting our students to working artists as resources— as teachers of their practice—in both subtle and overt ways,” noted CalArts Provost Tracie Costantino. Ribas will work closely with Edgar Miramontes, who was promoted to Deputy Executive Director and Curator. Miramontes has been with REDCAT since 2008 and will play a key role in leading staff and contributing to programming in the forthcoming seasons. ­—Marylou Ferry


John Bache (1940–2019)

An Intolerable Loss


CalArts Photo Cage, 1973.

Beloved member of the CalArts community, John Bache, passed away suddenly on Dec. 11, 2019. Bache was an artist, photographer, and instructor who had a profound impact on CalArts for nearly five decades, holding a variety of positions at the Institute—as a member of the faculty and staff, in the Office of the Provost, and, as recently as last year, an instructor in CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP). Bache’s commitment and devotion to his students was deep, genuine, and boundless. “John loved the students and worked tirelessly for all, while in the School of Art; and then, perhaps even more, when he joined the Office of the Provost and his responsibilities spread to the entire Institute,” said Thomas Lawson, dean of the School of Art. Bache joined the School of Art staff in 1972. Six years later, he became technical faculty in the school and was also appointed the director of photographic facilities. In 1987, Bache was appointed associate dean of the Art School. He also served on Academic Council and, later, as acting dean in the School of Art, program director of photography, and on several Institute committees, including a presidential search committee. Bache also served as the faculty trustee from 1994–95. As associate provost from 1995–2011, Bache took on the role of acting provost on numerous occasions, as well as running the Intercultural Arts Project Committee and diversity programs. In 2011, Bache “semi-retired” from CalArts but continued teaching in the CAP photography program. He taught in CAP for more than two decades, and last May, he was awarded faculty emeritus status by the Board of Trustees. “John’s kindness and humanity helped me get through my first years as dean of the Art School,” added Lawson. “At that time, I was offered little by way of orientation to my new job, and so I depended on whatever wisdom John was willing to share, not by instruction, but by example. What I learned from him

is that the school’s success is rooted in the quality of attention we pay to the students; to their welfare, of course, but most of all, to the integrity of their work.” “Every loss is hard. I find this one almost intolerable,” said School of Art faculty Andrew Freeman. “It will be hard for the many people that John helped, influenced, and guided. I certainly credit John with a kind of teaching that brought skill, humanity, and kindness to my experience. The enormous impact John had on our program, students, CAP, and beyond, simply made our world better … and his handwriting was charming, too.” Away from CalArts, Bache was an independent curator and arts activist, and he served as a board member of MOCA’s Architecture and Design Council. Exhibition venues for his photography ranged from LAX airport to China, where he was one of the first American citizens to display his work. Bache’s images were also mounted at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and the Armory Center for the Arts, among many other venues. A memorial and celebration of John Bache’s life was held at CalArts on Jan. 18, 2020. —Greg Houle

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John Baldessari in his studio in the ’90s.


by James Welling (Art BFA 72, MFA 74)

I began CalArts just when the

Valencia campus opened in the fall of 1971. On the first day of class, School of Art students assembled in a large room with clerestory windows. Dean Paul Brach stood at a podium and brought the gathering to order with these memorable words, “Summerhill is over.” Summerhill, the radically progressive school in England, was on everyone’s mind in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The whole reason I had transferred to CalArts was that I hoped CalArts would be Summerhill.

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Study for One Rented Painting Hung Crookedly, 1971.

Brach also mentioned that John Baldessari was on leave and would return in the spring. This announcement passed by me because I didn’t really know who John Baldessari was; I just wanted to go to Summerhill. John was a name on a list of people I might study with. Someone I had heard of was Allan Kaprow. His “happenings” were featured in the publicity CalArts sent out to prospective students. Kaprow’s events reminded me of the poetic pieces of Yoko Ono, whose work I was enamored with. I loved her 1964 artist’s book, Grapefruit, which contained instructions for simple actions such as, “Leave a piece of canvas or finished painting on the floor or in the street.” Ono’s book, reissued in 1970, was a sacred text for me and for many young artists I knew. As the weeks progressed, I began to hear about John from students who’d studied with him the previous year. It appeared that many of these students were treading water, waiting for John to return. By the end of the semester, I felt isolated and alone, so I skipped the last week of classes to return home. If I’d stayed, I would have met John at the faculty show which opened the final week of the semester. When I returned to Valencia I saw John’s work for the first time. His idiosyncratic contributions to the show were hung near the cafeteria, so everyone saw them. The work was unlike any of the other paintings or sculptures. John’s works were straightforward, instruction-based pieces, described by their titles. One Rented Painting Hung Crookedly reminded me of Ono’s “Leave a piece of canvas or finished painting on the floor or in the street.” Another, Choosing a Text, a Color, a Date and a Photograph was a conceptual grid of colors,


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calendars and texts. I liked this work because I had started using calendars and text fragments in my own work. A Line of Screws, Fasteners, Etc.—Each Different, a single 10-foot line of assorted nails and screws, was humble and funny. After seeing John’s work, I enrolled in his Post Studio Art class. I don’t know for sure, but I think John chose the term “Post Studio” for his class because it described the new modalities he was using to make his own work in photography, text, video, and film. The class met in a large windowless room in the basement, across the hall from the graphics lab. The dozen or so students sat on uncomfortable Rowland chairs or lounged on gym mats on the floor. John always started class with a few jokes and ruminations about art. Then we would put up work for critique, and he’d respond with witty, gnomic comments that were always astute and encouraging. John was very protective of his students, and he supported us in any direction we wanted to take. No sooner had the semester started than John left for exhibitions in Europe. When he returned, he brought to class two suitcases full of art catalogues that we all poured over. John’s career was gaining steam in Europe and New York. And his absences, while painful, were allayed by the new ideas and new artists he enthusiastically shared with us upon his return. John seemed to bring all his friends who passed through Los Angeles to class to give talks or do studio visits: Bruce Nauman, Alexis Smith, William Wegman, Keith Sonnier, Joan Jonas, Robert Smithson, Hilla Becher, John Knight, Dan Graham, Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra, Pat Steir,

Frames from the video I Am Making Art, 1971.


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John Baldessari in his studio, 1976.


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Pier 18: Centering Bouncing Ball (36 Exposures), 1971.

Choosing (A Game for Two Players): Turnips, 1971–72.

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Font, 1987.

The Space Between Two Cowboys., 2019.

and Martha Wilson. Daniel Buren, after speaking about his work, invited the class out to a local bar in Newhall. Once, Post Studio met in John’s studio in Santa Monica. At this point, John was taking photographs off the TV and we all saw his apparatus, a 35mm camera on a tripod facing a large television set. The camera was outfitted with an automatic timer that allowed it to photograph the television at regular intervals. I was fascinated. John could turn on the TV and camera, drive up to CalArts, teach his class, and return to the studio knowing he made some art during the day. In John’s catalogue raisonné, many of the photographic works for the period 1971–73 employ two photographic gambits: choosing and framing. See, for example, Choosing (A Game for Two Players) Turnips, or Pier 18: Centering Bouncing Ball (36 Exposures). In these works and others, John was forging an art that was light and to the point. No metaphors, no metaphysics. Clear and simple utterances. I wonder if the conciseness of these works was a response to the rambling and sometimes obscure rationales students applied to their work in Post Studio. However John arrived at these degree zero pieces, his strategies for making photographs were revolutionary. I think it’s safe to say that John viewed all “serious” art photography as little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. At this point in his life, he approached art as a game. All the better if it were a mindless game. In a memorable, low-fi video from 1971, I Am Making Art, John stands in the white, cinder-block Post Studio classroom slowly repeating the phrase, “I am making art.” I think of this piece as the lesser-known sibling to his more famous work I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art from the same year. In I Am Making Art, John moves his arms this way and that.


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“I am making art.” He turns slightly. “I am making art.” He continues making a new gesture between each vocalization. “I am making art.” A dedicated cohort of students, some of whom were not enrolled at CalArts, gathered around John over my three years at CalArts: Dede Bazyk, Jill Ciment, Robert Covington, Ken Feingold, Lisa Koper, Suzanne Kuffler, Chris Langdon, Paul McMahon, Branka Milutinovic, Joshua Mulder, Matt Mullican, Renee Nahum, David Salle, Bart Thrall, and Dave Trout. As the semester went on, we coalesced into a tight group and spoke the language of “post studio art” in photographs, videos, texts, and super 8 films. One afternoon at the end of that first semester with John, some of the class went across McBean Parkway to make photo pieces. We passed around a camera and took photographs in the undulating chaparral. A little later John, Matt Mullican, and Dave Trout found a tire and dragged it to the top of a small hill. They let it roll, and I photographed it zooming past me. At the end of the afternoon, before we headed back to the classroom, we posed for a photograph under a California live oak. I backed up to include the entire tree and photographed John, Matt, Dave, and Dede Bazyk smiling in the hazy sunlight. We had found Summerhill.

Baldessari (second from left) poses with students under a California live oak during a class excursion across McBean Parkway. The author took the photograph in the spring of 1972. JAMES WELLING

CalArts established the John Baldessari Memorial Scholarship to highlight his remarkable and enduring legacy by providing financial assistance to talented students in the School of Art. Show your support at



The island of trash floating upon the sapphire seas between California’s coastline and Hawaii has swelled to perhaps twice the size of Texas, and that’s a conservative estimate. This garbage-strewn oceanic gyre is a symbol of our fraught relationship with the environment, and its constant growth seems inevitable.

At current pollution rates,


will outweigh

all the fish in the ocean


2050 according to a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in partnership with the World Economic Forum.


Though the ocean and our relationship with it are

papers (fittingly titled “Blue Papers”) and charged with difficult to conceptualize—out of sight, out of mind—the selecting their topics from issues identified in the research. consequences are clear: The Center for International “The most surprising thing about this project has been Environmental Law found that microplastics, or plastic a realization on the part of both the faculty and the students fragments less than 5 millimeters in length, accelerate of the value of art and design in allowing an audience to greenhouse gas production and interfere with the ocean’s access these overwhelming global problems at a human ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Such harm is exacerbated scale,” said Khan Gibson. by global industries continually plundering its depths and The students’ research and multidisciplinary choking the water with oil and other pollutants. approaches culminated in a diverse series of projects But in CalArts classroom A112D, artists are working targeted to a global audience of future leaders and their to forge a greener future. CalArts Collaborates, a yearlong families: habit-changing apps, culture jamming campaigns, studio course centered on nonprofit collaboration, has educational short films, and sustainable apparel lines. partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI) this “I knew nothing about animation, so it’s been cool to get academic year to fight the global climate crisis through an inside look into what you do,” graphic designer Makena the oceans. Janssen (Art MFA 22) told her teammate, animator Yoo Jung As its name suggests, the class is also collaborative Hong (Film/Video BFA 22), while speaking of her experience at the Institute level—students from the Graphic Design in the course. “It’s been fun working together, too.” Program and the School of Film/Video programs were And it’s not just the students who cited the benefits of divided into four teams. Consequently, the class was working with artists from other disciplines—Furniss and taught by Yasmin Khan Gibson, director of the Graphic Khan Gibson also noted the rewards of co-teaching with Design Program, and Maureen Furniss, director of the different artistic backgrounds. Experimental Animation Program. “The way she thinks about things and the way I think “We changed the original concept, which was to make about things are complementary but different,” said Furniss. one-minute animated films and do graphic design-related “I’d listen to Yasmin and think, ‘That’s a great way to solve projects,” said Furniss. “In the end, it grew into a bigger, that problem.’” looser organization.” Khan Gibson turned to her with a smile. “Absolutely, Throughout the year, WRI scientists, designers, and cre- I’ve had the same experience.” ative directors offered students research materials and guidance by both video conference and campus visits. Each team was given access to synopses of forthcoming WRI white

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Recycled and retailored garments make up this eco-conscious fashion line.

INDIGARB upcycled and reconstructed apparel The modern fashion industry is notorious for quickly cycling through trends, leaving last season’s looks to gather and waste on a gargantuan scale. In recent years, concerns about the unsustainable nature of the fashion industry, “fast fashion” in particular, have entered the mainstream. To combat the environmental costs of the fashion world, Lorelei Acuña (Film/Video BFA 22) and Avery Jagre (Art BFA 20) have crafted a plan to mobilize the art and design community through their project “Indigarb.” “The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world after the oil industry, which is why we’re interested in sustainability, upcycling, and creative reuse,” said Jagre. This statistic is validated by a November 2018 article by the United Nations Environment Programme, which found that the textile industry is responsible for 10 percent of global carbon emissions and 20 percent of global wastewater, requiring an astounding 2,000 gallons of water to produce a single pair of denim jeans. “The fast fashion industry just keeps producing more clothes, but not using what we already have,” said Acuña.


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Growing interest in “upcycling” (recycling and retailoring) garments reflects a desire among youths to be more socially conscious in their sartorial choices and to look stylish doing so. Acuña and Jagre pointed to fashion DIY influencer Amber Scholl and rapper Princess Nokia as public figures who promote sustainable fashion practices. Scholl, who went viral in 2018 for making a prom dress made entirely out of trash bags, primarily crafts and shares trendy looks with her 3 million-strong YouTube audience. Princess Nokia’s style falls more in line with the streetwear aesthetic, exemplified on her track “Balenciaga,” a jaunty ode to thrifting: “Whole fit lit, it cost me nada.” “Indigarb” contributes to the movement with a line of upcycled and reconstructed apparel: flowing layered trench coats, cellophane-esque mermaid skirts, vibrant slouchy sweats, and fishnet tote bags created from Acuña and Jagre’s colorful multi-texture concept designs. Several of the pieces were adorned with hand-painted lettering and given a splash of color with natural dyes, such as hibiscus. Through their wide-ranging pieces, the pair offer outfits for lounging at the beach, traversing the city streets, or strutting down the catwalk. “We don’t want anyone to feel ashamed or guilty,” said Jagre of their fashion-forward endeavors. “We just want to raise awareness and get people to feel some compassion for their choices and how they’re affecting ocean life.”

Hannah Saidiner (left) and Jessica Peng are in good spirits while working on ‘The Drop Project.’

THE DROP PROJECT a habit-changing app for a healthier planet hopeful notion that actions, however small, can lead to a large impact. “The Drop Project” campaign’s colorful and upbeat tone combats the doom and gloom of much of the existing climate change discourse, and its visuals reflect the trio’s highly synergistic process. “We all got to shine, but we all also got to help each other shine, which is really great,” said Peng. “I think when we look back at this project, we’re going to see what we’ve done, but also how much we complemented each other and understood what we wanted to create, and what we wanted to accomplish,” said Saidiner. “I think it really came through.”


Eco-anxiety is the specter looming over today’s youths, spurring many to adopt climate-friendly habits with a dual sense of urgency and despair. A May 2018 Gallup poll found that 70 percent of Americans ages 18–34 reported worries about the state of the climate. Hannah Saidiner (Film/Video BFA 21), Jessica Peng (Art BFA 20), and Eleonora Stella Oei (Film/Video BFA 21) seek to inspire and empower those at the brink of agency through “The Drop Project.” The group cited youth activists such as Greta Thunberg, Isra Hirsi, and Leah Namugerwa as primary project inspirations. In this vein, everyday activism is at the heart of “The Drop Project,” which emphasizes that no one is too young or powerless to make a difference. The trio devised a minute-long PSA featuring various animation styles, including rotoscoping of the aforementioned activists, as well as a website and a gamified mobile app to reach their demographic. “There are a lot of people who use habit-changing apps nowadays, and we thought that might be a good way to connect it all together,” said Peng. “Through leading by example, we want to show that changing our habits is not impossible,” Oei, who spent the spring semester on exchange at Gobelins, L’École de L’Image in Paris, told The Pool in an email interview. “It just needs some effort and persistence! We want to remind people that their actions count, even if we still make mistakes here and there. I heard someone say before that the earth needs a million people doing things imperfectly, rather than a handful of people doing things perfectly. So, just give it a go!” Enter project mascot Drip Drop, a smiley waterdrop with a vision of a healthier planet and an eagerness to lend a helping hand. Through daily tasks, Drip Drop—and, by extension, the app user—mobilizes friends, neighbors, and the community at large to adopt eco-friendly habits, such as recycling and reducing both meat consumption and plastic use. This ripple effect reinforces the project’s

Prototype mockups of the gamified mobile app.

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RECIPE FOR ACTION animation encouraging sustainable seafood Discussions of the climate crisis often position the ocean as a hapless bystander to the untold tons of oil, trash, and sludge that poison its depths. In “Recipe for Action,” however, Makena Janssen (Art MFA 22) and Yoo Jung Hong (Film/Video BFA 22) have cooked up an upheaval of the food system by framing the sea as a tasty solution.“We read these really impactful facts early on, and they were all about our food system,” said Janssen. “We were like, ‘Whoa—this is so important just in itself. We should just narrow it down and focus on food.’” A 2018 report from the Food and Agricultural Organiza­ tion of the United Nations (FAO) found that meat and dairy, especially from cows, account for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gases. A widespread change in how we acquire our protein, particularly by adopting a more sea-based diet, stands to reap global benefits. These proposals are substantiated by a 2019 report from WRI’s High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which found that the ocean could provide more than six times the current amount of food with better management and technological innovation.

Yoo Jung Hong positions puppets before filming a scene.



CalArts Alumni Magazine

Stills from ‘Recipe for Action.’ The character’s choice between meat and seafood protein becomes a teaching opportunity about the environmental effects of food.

The pair employed a narrative approach to their minutelong video. A woman ruminates on her choice of protein between the meat and seafood aisles of a grocery store and experiences the environmental effects of her decision in real time—upon selecting the beef, the market begins shrinking as it is instantly engulfed with noxious greenhouse gases, only to be restored upon the selection of mussels. The animation was created with three-dimensional puppets and sets made of masking tape, which were filmed to look 2D. The pair plan to launch an Instagram account that is stylistically similar to the video, featuring a feed of handdrawn infographics and statistics from sources that emphasize sustainability, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood advisory list “Seafood Watch.” “During this research, I think I also changed,” said Hong. “I used to not eat any seafood at all! After all this research, I’m definitely eating a lot more seafood now. Even though I still can’t completely shift my diet, now I think more when I’m grocery shopping. It is influencing my life.”

MEOW CHOW subversive cat memes expose illegal fishing practices One would be forgiven for not immediately considering the socio-political implications of a tin of cat food, but Naveen Hattis (Art MFA 21) and Aaron Holmes (Film/Video MFA 21) seek to expose its connection to illegal fishing, human slavery, and arms trafficking in their project “Meow Chow.” In order to link such disparate topics, Hattis and Holmes capitalized on the internet’s love of cats. Using the internet as a vehicle was particularly opportune for the team, as the digital component of “Meow Chow” employs memes of cats to specifically target the web’s multitude of cat enthusiasts. What begins as a typical animated GIF of a cat about to be fed also features intermittent flashes of boats and fishing nets, which gradually expands to photographs of enslaved fishermen. “We kind of hijacked the idea of funny memes, turning them into something unsettling,” said Holmes. “We connected this banal, everyday activity of feeding your pet with a really disturbing reality and a humanitarian crisis that might be far away but is still connected to our lives.” Throughout their research, Hattis and Holmes came upon the work of investigative reporter Ian Urbina, who wrote a six-part series for The New York Times titled “The Outlaw Ocean,” which was expanded and published as a book of the same name. Urbina reported that commercial fishing, much of which is illegal, has pillaged marine life to the point that fish populations have declined by a staggering two-thirds. He further found that much of the fish in many brands of pet food come from illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and associated drivers. “We might think about fish in terms of human consumption, how our diets are affected by illegal fishing, but we never think about our pets,” said Hattis. “That just kind of struck me.”

Despite the significant disruptions posed by COVID-19, students in the CalArts Collaborates class continued their work remotely. Check out updates about the projects at

The pair also devised a culture jamming campaign to spread their project’s message by rebranding existing cat food cans with their fictitious “Meow Chow” labeling. At first glance, the labels are innocuously designed, but upon closer inspection, they convey the ills of modern fishing practices and offer a link to their companion website. The site serves as a compendium of resources, including Urbina’s articles, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and seafood sustainability nonprofit FishWise. Hattis noted the pair’s thoughts throughout the process: “How can we make a video about pet food and illegal fishing? They seem so distant from each other. We had this meme idea that would connect the two, and that seemed perfect for youth culture.”

















‘Meow Chow’ memes target the web’s cat enthusiasts.

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Los Angeles-based artist Lari Pittman (Art BFA 74, MFA 76) is best known for creating ambitious collage-like works that play with dichotomies of both material and subject matter. From the outset of his career, Pittman has been an outspoken social critic, often creating work in response to contemporary issues such as the AIDS crisis, the culture wars of the 1990s, and excesses of capitalism. In Pittman’s work, the political and the profound are examined in often ostentatious ways. And it’s that duality, tension, and over­-­the-topness that writer, curator, and CalArts School of Art faculty Michael Ned Holte describes in “Much Too Much,” an examination of Pittman’s career (Artforum, January 2020):

Signs and Sass The Work of Lari Pittman

“These are paintings that refuse to be less than too much. In their scale, ambition, and sheer exuberance, they inevitably evoke AbEx, that American painterly tradition, even as they queer it, embellishing its grand gestures with so many signs and so much sass. These are emphatically American paintings, and America is the land of excess—McMansions, pumpkin-spice frappuccinos, and Donald J. Trump—as much as it’s the land of freedom or democracy or opportunity or any other platitudinous thing. These American paintings are not, however, melting-pot paintings, boiling their subjects down to some inoffensive, evenly assimilated stew; rather, they are cornucopian paintings, their variegated bounty spilling beyond containment and sprawling across the table of the picture plane. They model democracy, raucously.”

Transfigurative and Needy, 1991, acrylic and enamel on mahogany panel.

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CalArts Alumni Magazine

Ned Holte’s essay also contains a poignant passage about Pittman’s time at CalArts, the relationship to his peers, and the historical significance of his work:

“Pittman belonged to none of the school’s wellknown and often dogmatic ‘camps’—neither to its mythologized ‘mafia,’ with student members like Jack Goldstein and David Salle, who have always been clearly identified as acolytes of John Baldessari, nor to its Feminist Art Program, founded by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, in which he could not officially participate. Still, he sat in on the Feminist Art Program’s classes and worked closely, in particular, with Schapiro, as well as with Baldessari and with visiting faculty such as Elizabeth Murray. His closest peers at CalArts included the gay male painters Tom Knechtel and Roy Dowell, the latter of whom became Pittman’s longtime partner. There is a queer history of CalArts that continues into the present, significant if necessarily ‘minor,’ much of it yet to be written or accounted for, and Pittman is central to its beginnings.”

Spiritual and Needy, 1991, acrylic and enamel on mahogany panel.

The most comprehensive retrospective of Pittman’s prolific career in nearly a quarter century, Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence, ended a highly successful run at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in January. For the first time, the Hammer dedicated all its major exhibition spaces to a living artist, showcasing paintings and objects made over a three-decade career. The show was scheduled to travel to Kistefos-Museet in Jevnaker, Norway, before the coronavirus pandemic postponed these plans.

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The Senseless Cycles, Tender and Benign, Bring Great Comfort, 1988, acrylic on wood panel.

The Sounds of Belief, To an Atheist, Are Very Touching, 1988, acrylic on panel.

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CalArts Alumni Magazine


Portrait of a Human (Pathos, Ethos, Logos, Kairos #10), 2018, Cel-vinyl and spray paint over linen mounted on wood panel. Left

Portrait of a Textile (Glazed Chintz), 2018, Cel-vinyl, spray enamel on canvas over wood panel.


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Learning in Quarantine BY A DA M S M E LT Z

How can we collaborate creatively when we’re all locked up in our own little worlds?

“It’s kind of family-style teaching right now. We’re all getting to know one another’s pets.”


CalArts Alumni Magazine

the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year, When the world—and CalArts—pressed the “pause” button. Students dispersed across time zones as campus cleared out. No one knew with any certainty when they might return. The faculty took a moment to regroup and rethink teaching in a stay-at-home world. But, in a matter of days, a new pedagogy evolved. At first, letting CalArtians learn on their own time felt like a natural accommodation. Faculty posted course materials online, establishing asynchronous classes, which don’t meet at any particular time, to give everyone extra flexibility. Then it happened: Students gravitated back toward the classroom experience—as close as they could get, anyway. They wanted to assemble. They wanted to hear and see one another in real time. Before long, they were figuring out time differences and logistics to keep the CalArts community connected.

In the weeks since, virtual learning spaces have bloomed across CalArts. Faculty members scrambled to experiment and reimagine coursework for the remote-learning reality. Unsatisfied with basic video conferencing, they’re refashioning online education for unprecedented times—and with breakneck speed. Their results aren’t just keeping CalArtians engaged. They’ve also stoked fresh thinking, new creativity, and a renewed sense of togetherness and hope. “I’m glad to be at CalArts with this faculty and these students,” said CalArts President Ravi Rajan. “Together, we will be the ones to create something truly unique in this moment—a model for arts pedagogy moving forward.” Here are just a few examples.

F I L M/ V I D E O

“My class has had this incredible conversation that’s been developing over weeks,” Baron said. “It’s been hard to do without the in-person contact, but I’ve been moved by the quality of conversation, the level of critique that we have been able to achieve in these circumstances. People are really reaching toward each other, making the best of the situation.” By strange coincidence, when remote instruction started, Baron had already planned to spend several weeks on desktop filmmaking, which features the computer screen as the canvas. Artists record the screen itself and choreograph actions on the desktop, guiding the viewer through opening windows, browsing, producing text, tiling, and layering images to tell a story or create abstract montages. At a time when the computer is particularly central to

The computer screen as canvas

a normal semester, artists in Rebecca Baron’s The Essay Film course would include live cinema performances during class. They would use equipment from the Film Cage. They would enjoy the easy back-and-forth of their classmates’ ideas and reactions. This spring has brought them a different lesson: improvisation. Working from home, some students are tethering their smartphones and laptops to make recording projects possible. Troubleshooting has become a regular part of class, a sort of mutual support for technical challenges. Many students are using technology to keep in better and more meaningful contact with one another, said Baron, a filmmaker and faculty member in the School of Film/ Video. She sees them recognizing the importance of the community and togetherness, she said. One example: Attendance in her virtual sessions has been perfect.



Screen shots of Shiqi Zhang and Heehyun Choi’s desktop films created for Rebecca Baron’s The Essay Film course.

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daily life, Baron said, “we’re opening up other possibilities of the screen.” Baron has worked across platforms such as the messaging service Slack and the conferencing service Zoom to help students observe and discuss one another’s work in real time. At times, the class pauses while everyone separately watches a prerecorded video, then resumes via Zoom for discussion. As some students have adapted their prior work to the new conditions, others are “stopping what they had been doing and trying to respond to the circumstances” with new projects, Baron said. “It’s a very individual thing.” Her own circumstances have allowed her husband, Scripps College faculty member Douglas Goodwin, to make impromptu Zoom appearances before her students. “It’s kind of family-style teaching right now,” Baron said. “We’re all getting to know one another’s pets.”



Deploying digital platforms for science


Bryant brings a touch of the theatrical to his science courses. His rendering of DNA extraction in his class Introduction to Science at Method isn’t to be missed. He gargles and spits out Gatorade and then proceeds to demonstrate a

MacGyver-style extraction with the use of household items, including shampoo, salt, rubbing alcohol, and meat tenderizer. But he isn’t relying on office-style video conferencing to give his students that visual. He’s employing TikTok, the popular micro-video service that lets users record and post 15-second (and longer) clips. His inspiration came from students last semester who introduced him to the platform. “I thought: ‘If I’m going online and recording all these lectures, why not do them as TikToks, too?’ There are some

Using a device like TikTok or meme can capture the fundamental core of a big idea.

TikTok trends that you can use to drive the story, in part by showing differences among key concepts,” said Bryant, a biologist and associate dean in the School of Critical Studies. His take: Using a device like TikTok or a meme can capture the fundamental core of a big idea—and force him, as the teacher, to contemplate what he’s inadvertently left out. “The format means I have to boil these things down to their most essential attributes,” Bryant said. “These are really scary times. So something that’s a little bit funny or entertaining or quirky—that does help students engage. If it’s done properly, it can be funny; it just can’t be only a joke.” In his class Biology of Politics, a final assignment centers on making a prediction about a future society. Students have a choice: They can write a term paper or try something more creative to “convince me that they learned something,” Bryant said. Those creative possibilities might include a song, a monologue, a graphic rendering, or several TikToks. “It’s not just like, ‘There’s four TikToks; thanks for the semester,’” Bryant explained. “It’s four TikToks, and ‘Here’s the theory behind it and why.’” That spirit of flexibility is crucial in these times, he said. He has adjusted due dates, reworked class logistics, and learned the nuances of remote learning, such as the blank boxes that appear on screen when students switch off their cameras. “It’s new for all of us,” Bryant said. “I’m just trying to make things as flexible as possible.”

Mike Bryant uses the video platform TikTok to teach students how to extract DNA using household objects.


CalArts Alumni Magazine


Using her phone, Marissa Chibas captures the enduring spirit of her acting students.



Seeing this moment through literary characters

pandemic-related closures were instituted in Southern California, the MFA 1 Acting Studio class had been exploring William Congreve’s 18th-century play The Way of the World. School of Theater faculty member Marissa Chibas saw an opening: Actors in the class could create 60-second pieces as their Way of the World characters’ responses to the 21st-century crisis. “I was trying to find a way to honor the work we were doing while acknowledging the incredible moment we’re in now, not ignore it,” Chibas said. In mid-April, the students made their first-draft videos. For many, it was the first time they had crafted their own content like that. Some did it in complete isolation. “They’re holding up pretty well. I think there are moments of being overwhelmed,” she said. “It’s important that, as the mentor, I say: ‘If you have to take a break, you can take a break.’ This is huge what we are going through together.” Chibas’ other Acting Studio class with BFA 3 students centers on theater material that she chooses. For these students, the pandemic marks “a way to delve into their characters, and maybe find some new terrain for character portrayals,” she said. “For many students, this type of work is a way of processing, a way

“None of us can go on as usual. We have to face this moment and work together creatively.”

of expressing and maybe finding another outlet” for deepseated reactions to the crisis. Remote learning has helped acting students cultivate other skills, including self-taping and establishing a level of comfort in front of the camera. Chibas is planning a storytelling opportunity for her students that’s similar in style to The Moth Radio Hour. “It’s a great skill for actors to tell a good story in a short period of time about themselves, their lives,” she said. “We wouldn’t be doing this had it not been for the pandemic. I can only imagine being so young and new to the world in many ways—what this might be like for them.” The ability to tell stories has found renewed appreciation amid the pandemic, and acting students feel that, Chibas said. She’s seeing “a tremendous amount of support and kindness through this,” including in exchanges among students. “None of us can go on as usual. We have to face this moment and work together creatively to respond to this moment,” she said. “I think from now on, that’s going to be very alive in [our students]—the importance of the artist’s response to a particular time.”

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Pivoting to podcast


“Adversity can lead to all kinds of new ways of doing things, new kinds of visual

language, and new ways of Sandhaus (Art MFA 94) was a CalArts student herself when the Northridge earthquake struck addressing the moment.” Los Angeles County in 1994 and closed the CalArts campus. She remembers feeling unmoored and on “alternative modes of success and how our alumnx peers uncertain about whether and how classes would continue. from the Graphic Design Program define themselves in their So when the coronavirus upended routines for stuwork,” said student Natalie Gooden (Art BFA 22). dents, it was especially important to her that she hold the She and her co-collaborators have learned podcast Symposium Workshop class during the week classes were technology on the fly. They’re fast acquiring new skills, a paused, even if “it was virtually and just to connect.” reflection of the growth and creativity fostered in times of “These students have shown so much resourcefulness and agility,” said Sandhaus, a faculty member in the Graphic trouble, Gooden said. Plus, using a podcast as their medium means the work will have staying power and broader reach, Design Program within the School of Art. “I think that student Shu Chin Yeh added. “We all have this collective resourcefulness is a form of creativity.” drive to make it happen,” Gooden said. Participants in the class, which operates like a colWhen this generation of artists emerges from hardlective, choose a subject each year that demands a larger conversation, leading to a public event. For this year’s sched- ships of the pandemic, Sandhaus suspects they will formulate new ways of working—including new design practices. uled event at REDCAT in April, a panel of Graphic Design alumnae were set to discuss practices that have given them a “I think adversity can lead to all kinds of new ways of doing things, new kinds of visual language, and new ways of sense of agency and growth. The plan ran into trouble when addressing the moment,” she said. “I hope that’s what will the event fell victim to COVID-19-related cancellations. happen now.” Undeterred, students in the collective pivoted to reshape the effort as a podcast series. “It didn’t feel like a compromise. It felt like maybe this was the better opportunity,” said Sandhaus, who advises and mentors the group. A half-dozen interviews were in the works as of midMUSIC Across the miles, making music April. Each episode will be 20–30 minutes, featuring people who would have been panelists at the canceled event. The students have named the podcast Radical Practice, focusing Louise


Graphic Design faculty Louise Sandhaus (top center), CalArts alum Kate Johnson (center), and students collaborate virtually via Zoom.


CalArts Alumni Magazine

a typical conversation, part of Zoom’s convenience rests in its restrictions: Only one person at a time can be heard. The idea is to keep people from talking over one another. But that’s exactly what makes the popular platform so difficult for musicians who want to explore live music and jam together. In fact, there’s little technology available that enables that style of online collaboration, said Ulrich Krieger, a faculty member in Composition and Experimental Sound Practices in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts. Part of the issue is latency, or that time delay between when one party speaks and another party hears it. “It makes it nearly impossible for a group to play together online,” said Krieger, who is also a composer and experimental rock musician. That made for significant complications


In Ulrich Krieger’s Sonic Boom class, students listen to music tracks simultaneously through Zoom.

“All these livestreams online—they’re nice, but they don’t really replace a concert where you sit in a room with people.”

for his Sonic Boom class, where musicians develop music and play together. Krieger’s solution relies on ingenuity and his own experience. He started by having students make separate, 10-minute recordings of a piece known as “und der Rhein gibt sein Gold nicht preis,” an ambient music deconstruction of Richard Wagner’s 1869 overture to the opera Das Rheingold. Students only needed the score and a stopwatch. Krieger superimposed those recordings to create a collective production. “We’re all surprised how good it sounded, with people just recording individually, following a stopwatch and a score,” he said. Then came “Avoid the Funk,” a rock production that started with a drum track uploaded by Krieger. Students developed it from there using a snowball effect, each of them downloading the sound file, adding a new layer to the recording—vocals, for instance—and passing it along to the next person. The general philosophy already has legs in the commercial music world, Krieger said. But for a music

class, “starting something like this from scratch online is a real experiment.” “I think [all-remote learning] might change academia and learning overall,” Krieger said, forecasting a future richer with online instruction and collaboration. The pan­demic crisis “definitely changes what it means to be a musician.” While technology will evolve to ease digital hurdles like latency, he said, people won’t give up the in-person experience. “As much as we’ve had recordings through the 20th century, people want to go to shows. They want to see live musicians. All these livestreams online—they’re nice, but they don’t really replace a concert where you sit in a room with people,” Krieger said. In the meantime, he said, artists are using the cabin fever that’s become a secondary scourge of the pandemic: The extra time on their hands has unleashed a wave of new creativity. “The more people have something they can do for themselves, the less they get bored,” Krieger said.


A return to Hip Hop’s origins


their driveways and in the streets, Nina Flagg’s dance students are taking Hip Hop back to its roots. They’re used to a sprung floor and indoor comforts in the studio spaces of The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, but those amenities were controversial when the genre first shifted from the streets to studios, Flagg said. “People felt like the essence of Hip Hop culture would be lost—being in the club until 7 or 8 a.m., the sound, the energy,” she said. “That was a huge thing.” Now that students in her Hip Hop Composition and Hip Hop Technique courses are taking their dance sessions home, “there’s almost this return to the original practice, where you have to cultivate your skills before you go back

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Stills from dance videos created by Emilio Wettlaufer, Justin Farmer, and Tzong-Han (Hanna) Wu for Nina Flagg’s Hip Hop Composition and Hip Hop Technique class.

out into the community, whether that’s to battle or just to share,” Flagg said. Moving the classes away from conventional studios has led her to redefine and repurpose the very idea of a studio, she said. With some students dancing on concrete and others on carpet, Flagg has focused more on concepts of buoyancy and relationships with the floor. For the time being, she has given up sneakers to lead her classes barefoot instead. That works best on her living room carpet, Flagg said. “Of course, these adjustments change the way you move and your relationship to technique,” she said. “I had to take a moment myself to adjust, to be able to present to students in a way that maintained our standards.” After trying asynchronous online sessions, she has switched to teaching in real time via Zoom. In a way, all the changes mirror Hip Hop’s natural emphasis on evolution and social movements, Flagg said. “Now we are socializing through digital platforms. We miss some of the elements that really shape how you participate in Hip Hop culture,” she said. “At the same time, this is a testament to Hip Hop culture—taking your resources and repurposing them to make something greater than their original intention.”

She sees elevated creativity, thinking, and attention to detail in her students’ work these days. They’ve become their own stage managers, lighting designers, editors, and directors. “I’m hoping this broadens their vision of what is art-making,” Flagg said. “Because of comfort, repetition, and regimen, we tend to have a myopic view of creation. I think that this time—hopefully—has opened up everybody’s view and perspective and stretched the peripheral vision of art-making. We don’t want students to slip back into a comfortable way of thinking about art.”

View some of the students’ projects at

“This is a testament to Hip Hop culture: taking your resources and repurposing them to make something greater than their original intention.”


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Alumnx HQ

“Since we could get materials from government surplus, I obtained several large sheets of aircraft aluminum.” — Jon Barlow Hudson, p.59

Steve Kandell, guest editor


Interview with Teena Apeles and Andrea Richards of Narrated Objects CalArtians remember their favorite student project Plus— Awesome P-22 Cougar crossword puzzle

Alumnx HQ

Dear CalArts Community, There is a stack of file folders that has come with me on every move I’ve had in the past 23 years, including two laps across the country. The folders are tucked in the back of a file cabinet next to me right now, minding their own business. I have never thought to throw them away, but I don’t want to look at them either. These are about a dozen hard copies of the novel manuscript I worked on over the two years of my Critical Studies MFA between 1996 and 1998, filled with the marginalia and critiques from my classmates. Glimpses of the handwriting feel like lightly admonishing yearbook inscriptions: I remember the faces of people I haven’t seen or spoken to in decades, and I remember how they thought a sentence I willfully, breathlessly packed with clauses was too much. I’m sure I disagreed at the time. I recently tried to read some of the book itself and could barely stand to hold my gaze for a full paragraph; it was like staring into an incredibly embarrassing sun. I was 25 and aimless and wrote about being 25 and aimless, as aimless 25-year-olds were wont to do, especially in the mid-’90s. I am not sure that I ever had particular aspirations for it to be published, although I did send it to a couple literary agents; the bigger accomplishment was simply to see something like that to completion. I have not been active in the CalArts community since getting my degree in 1998, and the program’s connection to my current career is not a direct one. I am lucky enough to have been a working writer and editor, in some form or another, for much of the time since—mostly magazines that don’t exist

anymore, including SPIN. Reading that magazine made me want to write in the first place. The MFA Writing Program was where I convinced myself I could. Before that, I had no evidence. And these dusty, yellowed, scribbled-upon copies of this dumb novel were the physical proof—that I could finish something, that I could write and keep writing. That book did not get me a job, it did not get me an agent, it did not shape my voice or the course of my life to follow. But it—and by extension, the school—gave me something I could never have had otherwise: just a little bit of confidence. I’m grateful to have been asked to guest edit this section of The Pool, despite my absenteeism. Just last year, I moved back to Los Angeles after 20-plus years away; CalArts—the reason I moved here the first time—had nothing to do with why I moved here the second time, but I could not imagine coming back without those folders. My complicated relationship with my CalArts work made me wonder what other alumni thought about the work they did while at the school. Did it shape their current work? Does it serve as a reminder of a completely different time in their lives? Is it just embarrassing? What memories does it spark? We asked CalArts alumni about the projects they remember the most from their time at school and how they shaped—or had no bearing on—the lives and careers that followed. Thank you, Steve Kandell (Critical Studies MFA 98) Guest Editor of Alumnx HQ

Interview by Steve Kandell

Narrated Objects ‘We’re good at telling stories’ Officially, Narrated Objects began in October 2017 when Andrea Richards (Critical Studies MFA 99) and Teena Apeles (Critical Studies MFA 98) published We Heart P-22, an activity book inspired by a mountain lion who was living in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. But really, everything informing the philosophy of their upstart publishing press took root in 1996 when they met at CalArts in the then-new School of Critical Studies MFA Writing Program: the sense of broad collaboration, the agnostic approach to genre or convention, and—most crucially—their friendship. 56

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Narrated Objects puts out books, but not only books; Richards and Apeles—along with colleagues they consider part of their collective—are contributing to a Silk Road exhibit at the Pacific Asian Museum in Pasadena, Calif., and pursuing other multidisciplinary projects that defy easy categorization, an obvious hallmark of the institution that spawned them.

Teena Apeles—You just have to start something yourself, and we didn’t want to wait. We know how long it usually takes for books to come out. You have a year preparing it, then you have to wait. We didn’t need that machine. We’re fine doing something small. We knew this wasn’t for the money, but what really got it going was that we applied for an Awesome Grant. We got $1,000, and that was the first vote of confidence. You say you knew it wasn’t for the money, but you very quickly went about this like a business, not just an art project.

A drawing from We Heart P-22 by Anne Blecksmith.

Richards—One of the things about working for small presses that you realize quickly is the writer gets paid, and then they get a royalty. But none of it’s big money—nothing is big money unless you’re talking about major publishing. But why shouldn’t we be the ones publishing the books? Why should we just be the writers? Especially for these very specific things that are hyperlocal. It’s stories that other people aren’t covering, that people aren’t doing books on. We have the capabilities, and we have the friends who know how to do it. Why shouldn’t we set it up as a business so that it can sustain itself to bring out the next thing? The idea is—and we’re not there yet—for it to sustain us; every book you publish allows you to publish the next book. Or maybe they’re not even books; sometimes you want to find a different way to get the story out there. Apeles— We’re really good at telling stories.

Steve Kandell—How did you two come to form Narrated Objects 20-plus years after first meeting and working together? Andrea Richards—I think both of us worked for 20 years in different ways and shapes in publishing and in more formalized book publishing as editors and as writers. For me, it was really the kind of frustration that there are a lot of stories that you, as a freelance writer, pitch and don’t find a home for. Everything I was doing at the time was service journalism, like, “Where should you eat this, where should you do that?” There were a whole host of stories I wanted to do that weren’t that, and there was nowhere for them to land. And so, Teena and I realized that we have the skills to just tell those stories, to figure out forms for those stories.

What makes it a collective exactly? Apeles—We think of it as a collective because we have all these different talents we pull; the first book had more than 50 contributors, and the one after that more than 30 or 40 contributors. And with each book there were multiple partners involved. Although we may start the project, it is really pooling all these different resources and community organizations and leaders because it doesn’t stop once the book comes out. Richards—We’re preparing three more books this year. I don’t know which ones will come out, hopefully at least two of them. We’re doing a Filipino food stories and recipe book, and we’re going to do an LA parks coloring and guidebook. the POOL


Alumnx HQ

At what point did it strike you that this feels tied to what you did at CalArts? Apeles—We are tied, it’s where we met. Richards—I think the interdisciplinary aspect of it, definitely. Also, the writing program helped me think about writing and storytelling in a broader sense.

Richards—For me, the through line is that I’ve always been interested in collectives. At CalArts I did a feminist collective. I’ve always been interested in nonhierarchical ways of organizing stuff, and that’s sort of what Narrated Objects is doing. It’s bringing a lot of different people into the room from different fields and then figuring out how you can work together.

Apeles—My editing skills really were developed when we were at CalArts. Just that time to really look at text and think of how to make it better.

Down 1 Another word for “mountain lion” 2 The park where P-22 currently lives 3 What he crossed to get to his home 4 P-22 wears this around his neck 5 The famous sign he posed in front of 6 What he likes to hunt Across 1 P-22’s relationship status 2 Neighborhood P-22 is in 3 Where P-22 likes to view the stars 4 What the “P” in P-22 stands for

A page from We Heart P-22 with drawings by Colleen Corcoran (Art MFA 08).


CalArts Alumni Magazine



My Favorite Project Whether their work at CalArts led to a career in the arts or their lives took a different turn, CalArtians often have one formative piece they still think about years later. The Pool invited alumni to reminisce about a piece of work that they did as a student that still resonates with them today. Here are some of the responses.

Steven Avalos Theater BFA 82

“I painted all six surfaces of the gallery a vivid pink color and placed a pink bean bag chair in the center of the empty room.” —Michael R. Darmody

There were a few projects that stand out. Robert Benedetti’s production of Brave New World is one that I still recall, in part because the novel is now part of the curriculum for my 10th grade English class, and I extend the ideas into 11th grade when we read portions of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, while examining the effects of perpetual entertainment and ubiquitous technology on our culture. But the project that is the most memorable was our senior showcase production of Edward Bond’s dark play, Saved. I feel it was my best performance while at CalArts. I also had the opportunity to do a scene with a baby, and you can’t lie to a baby! In one performance, I put the baby on the bed, and she started to fall forward—I really had to be in the moment! Jules Aaron directed the production, and it was a pleasure working with this talented man. It was also the first time I performed at a theater in “the real world,” rather than on campus. Jon Barlow Hudson — Fig. 1 Art MFA 72

Since we could get materials from government surplus, I obtained several large sheets of aircraft aluminum, with which I made Vortex I: Jax, and another large piece for my graduation exhibit. I also created a sand sculpture performance/installation piece on the beach that was filmed by Jean St. Pierre.

Georgi Ann Coquereau-Kimi Art MFA 86

The 1979 Shadow Series/Untitled that focused on given obscure situations, utilizing parts of the objects casting shadows, translucent light reflections. Originally influenced by my many solo travels, starting at age 8, sneaking into gas station bathrooms at night for safe shelter, where the walls became a mini theater of shadows and highlights as cars whizzed by. With a more formative training at CalArts, the project continues to metamorphose in the form of a book (Gas Station Bathrooms I Slept In) and interactive environmental installations at the Meguro Museum, Tokyo (2013–15); A.I.R. Vallauris Gallery, Vallauris, France; and more recently Can Serrat Gallery, Barcelona, Spain, where I displayed a plexiglass sculpture in the form of a book, that allowed one’s facial reflection to integrate with the transparencies, inviting the viewer to interact in one’s own frame of reference. Upcoming new interactive work: Koto Cultural Center Gallery, Tokyo, Japan: July 21–26, 2020. Michael R. Darmody — Fig. 2 Art MFA 89

Holding Cell was a 1988 installation in Gallery A402, at the beginning of my second year at CalArts, and lasted from Oct. 16–22. I painted all six surfaces of the gallery a vivid pink color and placed a pink bean bag chair in the center of the empty room. I also removed the doors and the wood kick guards and mudded the corners to be rounded, all so that the space would be as featureless as possible, like a cloud. The color was chosen based on research that claimed that the color pink caused automatic tranquilizing effects on the body’s nervous system. On the wall next to the entrance was an explanatory sign detailing the color’s use in jail holding cells as a means of sedating new arrestees. The original inspiration for this came from reading Foucault’s work on prisons, specifically the use of panopticons, the POOL


Alumnx HQ 3


and from my acquaintance with a deputy who showed me the Orange County jail’s version of a panopticon. Holding Cell was designed to be obviously suggestive and intentionally manipulative. Some people thought it was intended as a critique of the “institution” (CalArts in particular, as well as the whole art world). Some people even saw in it a feminist critique. It marked a turning point in my career, both as a grad student at CalArts and as an artist. My mentor, Michael Asher, was suitably impressed, as he had been worried whether I was getting anything out of being there.

day of the school year, for each course I took. These pages were bound in close to a dozen black books. The day that I submitted the report, it required three trips to place them in the Registrar’s Office. Everyone in the office was astonished and had no idea what to do with the books. I left them there. In the end, three pages were Xeroxed for the school records, accompanied by a description of their meaning. The books were returned to me. I still have them. A fellow student, Bernard Cooper, wrote about this event in his memoir, My Avant-Garde Education.

Jeremy Hight — Fig. 3

Film/Video MFA 02

Critical Studies MFA 98

“On pages and pages of onionskin typing paper was typed a ‘+,’ ‘-,’ or ‘0,’ denoting a systematic, abstract, non-emotional conceptualization of every day of the school year.” —Lyn Horton


CalArts Alumni Magazine


In my thesis project for my MFA in the Writing Program, I shot a video in the desert, edited frames in Director, printed on acetate, and then backpainted it to appear like paint. The frame had hinges that could be opened. Once opened, a hidden motor began to move the text within the blank spaces, and the boy (which was a main part of the composition) lifted on the frame. Death of the author and analog interactivity. It was a ton of work and inspired my later works, which are now in museums and published in conceptual books. Thank you, CalArts.

Aimee Jennings — Fig. 4 2nd Grade was my first completed film at CalArts. I had just moved across the country from Maryland and was feeling overwhelmed and unsure of my decision to pursue my dream. But the minute I had the Bolex in my hand and started shooting this film, I knew I made the correct decision and I was, in fact, where I was meant to be. CalArts was where I was truly encouraged to hone my singular artistic voice. A voice that speaks its personal truth while also relating to a varied audience. 2nd Grade is the dramatic retelling of an actual event in my life. It questions existence and being in its purest forms.

Lyn Horton

David Karwan — Fig. 7

Art BFA 71, MFA 74

Art MFA 11

In 1971, the campus of CalArts was located at Villa Cabrini in Burbank. The administrative offices were in temporary trailers at the back of the campus. The registrar, Carolyn Homayounfar, whose art deco–like signature all official documents bore, had her office in one of these trailers. It was time to submit my experience report for the end of the year. I had been working on it for weeks. The form of the reports was determined by the artist; years later, they became more formalized. My report landed on pages and pages of onion-skin typing paper; on each page was typed a “+,” “–,” or “0,” denoting a systematic, abstract, non-emotional conceptualization of every

Ironically one of the projects that had a profound impact on my education at CalArts was a book report. Selected off a reading list from Lorraine Wild’s Design History class, Outlaws of America: The Underground Press and its Context (1972) led me on a never-ending adventure exploring art, architecture, literature, and printed ephemera of the 1960s and ’70s. Gar LaSalle, M.D. — Fig. 5 Film MFA 76

Diary of a Moonlighter (1975), my MFA thesis: This was the very first documentary ever filmed about the new specialty of emergency medicine. We shot it in


East LA while I was working shifts as an ER physician. Kris Malkievics was the cinematographer, Tom Polizzi did sound, Jim Hart did second camera, Myron Emery did special effects, Lee Bowers did titles, and John Scheele did still photography. Etta Lilienthal

“One day, I exited in Castaic and found a lonely tree off Ridge Route.” —Haeyong Moon

—William Stout


Jamil “Jamie” Naqvi — Fig. 8 Film/Video MFA 12

Nocturne was a three-channel video and sound installation created during my first year at CalArts. Compared to some of my other student work, I think it has aged quite well.

Theater BFA 97, MFA 99

Dawn Stoppiello

Fish Can Whistle (1997) by Dominique Yen from the CalArts School of Dance is a collaboration I will never forget. I worked for the first time with Evan Ritter (lighting design), with whom I have the longest-lasting artistic and personal friendship of anyone in my life. Through our collaboration I began to understand the essential tie that exists between space and light and how, when designed together, they can create a most profound and illusory world. When I proposed suspending a massive plastic ceiling from the grid, which would be “rained” upon throughout the choreography, I was told YES. The strange underwater world of movement, space, and light came to life as the three of us wove our visions together.

Dance BFA 89

Haeyong Moon — Fig. 6

“I’d love to know what happened to my huge, fullcolor Sgt. Pepper montage.”


The Need (1989): An evening-length, interdisciplinary work introducing Mark Coniglio’s MidiDancer in collaboration with artists from five schools at CalArts— Dance, Music, Film, Theater, and Art. Conceived and directed by Mark Coniglio (music and MidiDancer), the piece also included Dawn Stoppiello (choreography), Ilaan Egeland (choreography), Peter Seidler (set design), Sten Rudstrom (text), Cathy Galeota (video), Betsy Herst (lighting), and Meredith Alex (costumes). It was the beginning of what would become Troika Ranch (, but we didn’t know it yet. The collaborative process and the integration of dance, theater, and media in live performance are where I have spent my whole career. William Stout

Film/Video MFA 04

Chouinard 71

In the spring of 2002, I bought my first car in California. It was a 1988 Tercel that had close to 190,000 miles. I used all my savings, which was a grand total of $700 at the time. As odd as it sounds, I loved this car. I would pop in a cassette tape and drive up north on the 5 to see what I would find. One day, I exited in Castaic and found a lonely tree off Ridge Route. I was mesmerized by this tree and its surrounding landscape. So much so that I kept on coming back, bringing a new friend each time. And then, it became a film. I titled it When Passing ..., but it was casually mentioned as “a tree movie.” Some of my classmates at the time were in the film—Misato, Tamami, Chanatip, Allen, Andrew, and Paulo. I still go back to the tree to revisit those moments in the film.

When I was in Watson Cross’ figure drawing class in 1967, I drew a huge, full-color Sgt. Pepper montage (the famed Beatles LP had recently been released) with each song represented by a different graphic. It was stolen from the Chouinard wall where I had mounted it not too long after. I later saw it on the wall inside one of the Chouinard houses, which housed multiple student renters. I’d love to know what happened to it or if anyone took pictures of it, as it’s just a vague memory now. I later ended up doing lots of LP covers (I’m still drawing CD and vinyl covers), including several for some various Beatles bootleg LPs.

the POOL


CalArts MA Aesthetics and Politics

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Class Notes

Share your personal and professional accomplishments with your fellow CalArtians! Send your note to and include a photo if you wish.

“My latest film, The Girl with the Rivet Gun, is an animated documentary short celebrating women in the workforce.” —Danielle Ash, p.77

Class Notes

Dear reader, the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted scheduling across the arts and will likely disrupt launches, programs, exhibitions, performances, and other happenings. Please check all events mentioned in these pages for updates. If your event has been impacted, we hope it can be rescheduled as soon as possible. —The Pool editors Leo Monahan (Chouinard 58) shares, “Christmas, 1952. I was in the Navy during the Korean War. My ship, AKA54, was in Long Beach, Calif., for services. Another sailor and I went to Hollywood on liberty. We found the USO and put our names on a list for families to take servicemen home for Christmas dinner. Mr. Louis B. DeWitt took us home to an extended family dinner. They had gifts for us, dinner was great, and they had a lovely blonde daughter. Every chance I had, I was with that family. A year later, I was set to be discharged from the Navy. DeWitt, who was a prominent motion picture designer, asked me what I was going to do with my life. I said that I didn’t have a clue. He said that I should take the GI Bill and attend Chouinard Art Institute. I said, ‘OK.’ His suggestion changed my life. After one semester, I was awarded the Walt Disney Honor Scholarship. During my last year, I was a student-teacher of what was the Bauhaus design and color course. My first paper sculpture was of a man in a truck for an ad for Liberty Records. My partners and I were suddenly in the record business. I was essentially a graphic designer. In the next five years we designed approximately 1,200 record covers. I did occasional paper sculptures for ad agencies. As time went on, I became known for paper sculpture illustration in Los Angeles, then across the United States, and finally, internationally. I did paper sculpture illustrations for the next 50 years. In 1982, I received a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles. And in February 2018, CalArts gave me the same honor.”   A


Fifties Jerry Eisenberg (Chouinard 56) checks in, “I had been given a three-year scholarship to Chouinard by the Los Angeles Examiner Scholastic Sports Association where I had won its sports cartoon contest when I was a freshman at Hamilton High School. I was Hamilton High’s chief cartoonist until my graduation, which was on a Friday, and three days later I entered the amazing, wonderful world of the Chouinard Art Institute. Wow! What a great school! I had great teachers like Watson Cross, Don Graham, Elmer Plummer, Richard Moore (an outstanding design teacher), Bob Winquist, etc. Later, I started my career in the animation/ cartoon world at MGM, Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera, Marvel, and beyond. I felt so fortunate to work with so many great, talented people like Joe Barbera, Chuck Jones (Chouinard 30), Mike Maltese, Ken Harris, Abe Levitow, Iwao Takamoto, and especially learning from my cartoonist/ father, Harvey Eisenberg and many more. To have made a good living creating and designing ‘silly cartoon characters’ was remarkable. How lucky to be doing something I love, because not everybody loves what they do. It’s rough out there!”


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Sixties Roberta Griffith (Chouinard 60) tells us, “I received an invitation to participate in an exhibition celebrating women in Philadelphia. The letter read in part, ‘As you probably know, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment,   B

granting women the right to vote in the US. To celebrate the exact anniversary in August, The Clay Studio will mount an exhibition, 100 Women—100 Years, featuring plates commemorating 100 inspirational women. You are one of 50 artists invited to make two plates, each commemorating a woman important to you. The women you choose to represent can be famous, anonymous, or your own private inspirations. We welcome all perspectives on this topic, and we embrace a wide definition of women, transgender, and female identifying people.’ I also participated, by invitation, in the international digital print exhibition, Full Color Zagreb 20, in Croatia. The NO Series in my artworks refers to text in the form of single negative words, used both in my paintings and on installations of ceramic utilitarian cups and plates. The text consists of words such as NO, NEVER, NOT, NOPE, and NOTHING. I am responding visually to strife, conflict, incivility, and rudeness, plus natural and man-made disasters: hurricanes, tsunamis, flooding on an unprecedented scale, as well as racial tensions, political divisiveness, religious warfare, and intolerance among people in contemporary societies.” Karen Laurence (Diamond) (Chouinard 63) writes, “Last spring, we gifted our entire collection of our Great Aunt Nelbert Murphy Chouinard to The Pasadena Museum of History from ‘the Family of Nelbert M. Chouinard.’ Our gift includes five of her own artworks, family photos, clothing, and more. Last spring, her work hung in the Pasadena Museum of History as part of Something Revealed; California Women Artists Emerge, 1860–1960, as well as in the four-volume book Emerging from the Shadows, A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1850– 1960 (Schiffer Publishing, 2016) by Maurine St. Gaudens and Joseph Morsman.” Dennis Busch (Chouinard 65) reminisces, “After a great introductory meeting with Mrs. Chouinard in late 1961, I had a feeling of accomplishment way before I accomplished   C

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1988, I made my decision that, yes, it was time to scratch that itch. So I now consider myself fully retired and enjoying life to the fullest. I occasionally have to send some music to the series Mom or do specialty music for Bob Hearts Abishola, but most of my time is spent following my whims. I’ve been gardening, landscaping, redecorating, doing yoga, going to the gym, and enjoying opera, plays, film, and concerts. Of course, I can’t let go of my music. So much of my time is spent trying to conquer the instrument I’ve been playing since age 7, the piano. By gosh, I think I can finally play stride piano. What a blast! I’m also spending time on the dobro and am working on my classical guitar chops. I still have all the pieces I was supposed to master while at CalArts.”


  F

Drew Cottril

(Chouinard 71) had


anything in the art field. Chouinard was a fabulous experience. I majored in advertising communication, and my most inspirational instructors were Lou Danziger (design) and Ed Reep (painting). Both opened my eyes to the real world of each. After graduation, I was an actor for two years. One cult film I appeared in, still shown today, is Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! My advertising and art career started at J. Walter Thompson, where I was an art director. Later, I was hired by Young & Rubicam where my ‘claim to fame’ was coming up with, and selling the concept of, Boone’s Farm Apple Wine (‘The Wine Picked from Trees’). After Y&R, I moved to San Diego and started Busch & Associates, an ad agency that became the third largest in the area. I worked hard but had fun! Now semiretired, I have kept busy illustrating children’s books and other novelty projects. I wasn’t an animator, but I’m still a busy cartoonist. Thank you, Nelbert Chouinard!” Ken Graning (Chouinard 66) says, “Recently, my wife and I were visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, and I came upon a vista that is unique to the Northern California area. One day on a road trip, as we entered Marin County after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, I observed an area of rolling verdant hills where Route 95 exits the bridge and then snakes off into Marin County. My primary painting genre is landscape painting, and I   D

know a painting opportunity when I see one. Later, when we returned home, I decided to paint that location from some photos that I had taken E on our trip. After I completed the painting, I thought it would be a good idea to submit it to The Artist’s Magazine Annual Open Painting Competition. The Artist’s Magazine is an international publication, and this show, which draws submissions from all over the world, is divided into categories. Apparently, my painting resonated in the mind of the judge, and I finished in the top 10 with my Marin County painting. It’s always a thrill when that happens, especially when you consider that the juror for each category is always a nationally known name with considerable street cred.”

a one-man show at the Roxie Remley Center for Fine Arts in Bulloch County, Georgia, from December 2019 – March 2020. The show F consisted of 30 recent paintings (portraits, landscape) and pen and ink drawings. Barry Schrader (Music MFA 71) and Wadada Leo Smith released a limited-edition CD single of Pacific Light and Water/Wu Xing—Cycle of Destruction. This is what Smith calls an “overlay” composition, combining works of two composers to create a new work. Merging Smith’s live performance of his piece Pacific Light and Water with Schrader’s electronic composition Wu Xing—Cycle of Destruction creates a one-of-a-kind duo. At Smith’s request, Schrader created a graphic score (available from Theodore Front Music) for Smith to follow and coordinate with the electronic music of Wu Xing. Images from the score are used in the graphic design of the CD cover and booklet. This performance was recorded live at REDCAT. Both Smith and Schrader are CalArts professors emeriti.   E

Seventies David Evans (McMullen) (Chouinard 70) writes, “Just copyrighted my storyboard ‘Stars and Stripes,’ created at Chouinard during my sophomore year ( And I will be setting up a crowdfunding account to hopefully produce it at the CalArts Animation Department.” Dennis C. Brown (Music BFA 71) reports, “In 2016, after completing 14 seasons of Two and a Half Men and six seasons of Mike and Molly, I began to get the itch to retire. Upon realizing that I had scored at least one TV series each year since the inception of


Scott Siedman (Art BFA 71) notes, “I’ve been an illustrator at The Washington Post and had solo exhibits—Sacred Porn at the Catherine Clark Gallery, Bert Green Fine Art, and Robert Berman Gallery. I was the production designer for Southside, a feature film.   G

the POOL


Class Notes



  C


Donald Beagle

(Critical Studies 72) writes in

to tell us, “I am pleased to announce the publication of my third collection of poems, Driving Into the Dreamtime. As described on Amazon, the book ‘is a richly-textured assemblage of poems, a number of which have won prizes and awards, while others have appeared in various journals and anthologies.’” Creator of Neverwuz Productions Facebook ... memorabilia for events that never happened and and” William Stout (Chouinard 71) reports, “After the success of my huge career retrospective book (Fantastic Worlds: The Art of William Stout), I’m putting together individual volumes on each chapter that will be roughly the same size as Fantastic Worlds (about 300 pages). The first two will be about my comic book work, then the third will be about my music-related art.”

together a collection of 16 mm camera original footage and heavily used prints and was only possible after the Film/Video School acquisition of a Blackmagic Design Cintel Scanner. Please check out God with a Green Face, my 1972 film documentary Pat O’Neill, and several optical printer/motion graphic films at” D

John Collins (Art MFA 72) writes, “From one of my poems: ‘Temperance Union Temperance Union please take my leave from meetings steeped in pain, the members left some time ago. The roar of crowds and hands that clasped are all that now remain, and that I will forgo as though I could retrieve the words all said in vain.’” Myron Emery (Film/Video MFA 72) writes, “A digital restoration of God with a Green Face, a documentary featuring Kathakali dance, directed by Bruce Ward and myself, was screened on Jan. 20, 2020, in Kerala, India, its cultural home state. The Hindu epic tale Ramayana, a 1970 documentary, was screened for the first time before many original master actors, contemporary actors/ artists, and general audience during the Kerala Kalamandalam Kathakali Company World Tour 50th Anniversary Celebration. Starting during my year before retiring, restoration of this unique footage to its original quality, came about by piecing


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Richard Cohen (Art BFA 73, Film/Video MFA 73) catches us up: “I am finishing the   B

documentary, Keeps Me from Falling, a Filmmaker’s Hotel Memoir. Before his death, F.X. Feeney (Film/Video BFA 76) and I were turning out the final pages on a screenplay based on our years at CalArts. In 2016, Metro State Hospital showed Hurry Tomorrow (by me and Kevin Rafferty). Forty years earlier, the hospital staff had tried to ban the film. The film led to a statewide investigation into the deaths of hundreds of psychiatric patients across California.”   E

Cameron Grant

(Music BFA 73) reports,

Leonard (Lenny) Horowitz (Art BFA 72) reports, “I am still proudly representing the CalArts community. As always, the direction is for beauty and happiness for people’s healthiness.”   D

Jon Barlow Hudson (Art BFA 71, MFA 72) checks in, “My current commission is a large-scale stainless-steel sculpture for outside the H.Q. Brown Library on the campus of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.”

“Winding down now after almost 50 years of professional performances. Solo pianist, rehearsal pianist, and orchestra pianist at New York City Ballet E for going on 35 years. Spending half my time in Arizona with my grandkids and the other half working in New York. It’s been a good run. I have many fond memories of my time at CalArts when it was just beginning in Valencia. Lots and lots of practicing and learning. What a great two years!” Edward Rollin (Music BFA 73) has co-starred in the short film “Customers” written by Louise Devery. Rachel Youdelman (Art BFA 73) writes, “A review of my bookworks appears in the

Book Club of California Quarterly, fall 2019, by Tony White, associate chief librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.” Larry Crost (Crow) (Art BFA 74) is a registered art therapist and founder of Art for Community Service for underserved communities in Long Island, New York, and Chicago. F

  F

Gary Kaskel

(Film/Video BFA 74)

says, “I’m busy adapting the 2015 biographical novel, Monster and Miracles: Henry Bergh’s America into a multipart drama for streaming (learn more at” Robert Glenn Ketchum (Art MFA 74) reports, “From March 7 – July 26, the Booth Museum of Western Art hosts Robert Glenn Ketchum & Eliot Porter: On Seeing Color, the second-largest exhibit of my career, including 61 prints from my seven Aperture books. I have also begun new digital work, a series called One World. Images are 48 inches wide, dye-sublimation photographs, printed on an aluminum sheet, and external edges cut by a router.”   A

Denman Maroney (Music MFA 74) tells us, “To mark my 70th year of life, I made two solo piano albums: Solo@70 comprising 38 pieces, half previously recorded and half not, and Hyperpiano Studies in which I play the keys with one hand and the strings with the other using bars and slides of metal, plastic, rubber, and wood. I also decided to move from New York State to Occitanie, France. So if you find yourself in that area, by all means, look me up.”   G


Devo Cutler-Rubenstein (Film/Video BFA 75) is still making films and is slated to direct a documentary in Scotland on landscape, painting, and healing with the Scottish painter Rose Strang. Mary Ann Kellogg (Dance BFA 75) and Tony Whitman (Film/Video BFA 76) celebrated 45 years together. Tony retired in 2018 as a key grip and now has time to devote to his art of photography and sculpture. Mary Ann is still choreographing for film and TV. Her latest work can be seen on Will and Grace and Rachet. John Mabry (Art BFA 75) reports, “After receiving a full scholarship to the Art School in 1969–70 with Stephen Von Huene as my mentor, I opened a ceramics and housewares studio and sold various forms, lamps, vases, and objects made with natural materials to Bullock’s, Broadway, May Company, Hudson Bay Company, Robinson’s, Disneyland

Resorts and Parks, and many other international venues. I found an art/housewares representative, Dillon-Wells in Los Angeles and New York, who sold my designs worldwide. I also worked as a graphic designer for the advertising trade, as a photographer and graphic specialist, which included 20th Century Fox, Technicolor, Deluxe, and several boutique agencies. Finally, I took a position as marketing director and graphic coordinator for the city of South Gate, Calif., in 1990. This was essentially an environmental

You are an important part of the CalArts community of artists, a community that we all want to thrive for generations to come. You can join us in our efforts to strengthen our community with a variety of creative and flexible planned giving options — including bequests, charitable gift annuities, trusts, and more. Learn more at the POOL


Class Notes

Cornelius, who were sent to scout Earth for an eventual invasion. However, during their visit, Ned and Cornelius became obsessed with pop culture and now host a talk show that is broadcasted from the bridge of their spaceship. The show will feature real-life celebrity guests being interviewed late-night talk show style. The famous Jim Henson’s Creature Shop will be bringing to life the character of Ned and the rest of the crew. The show will debut on the Disney+ streaming service, likely in late spring or early summer 2020.” Bear Thomas Woodson (Music BFA 78) checks in: “There are fewer than 10 composers alive, worldwide, who have written 10 concerti. I just started my 10th recently. 1) ‘Piano Concerto No. 1, D for Piano Left-Hand Only, and Orchestra’ (1998, 3 mvts., 29 min.) 2) ‘Concerto for [French] Horn and Orchestra’ (1999, 16 min.). Karen McGale did the piano reduction version for her dissertation about me in 2001. 3) ‘Introduction and Ashkenazic Rhapsody for Harp and Orchestra’ (2000, 1 mvt., 9 min.) 4) ‘Fantasy on a Theme used by Josquin Des Pres for Viola and Orchestra’ (2005, theme and 13 variations, 23 min.) or just my ‘Josquin Fantasy.’ 5) ‘Concerto for Bb Clarinet and Orchestra’ (Aug. 2005, 3 mvts., 30 min.) 6) ‘Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra’ (2007, 2 mvts., 19 min.). This one had a Tutti Passage of Bartók-styled Canons, for a few bars in the Violins I & II and Viole, which the White House Marine Orchestra deemed ‘unplayable’ back in July 2007! I knew Leslye Barrett, when we took degrees at ASU in the mid-1990s. She’s in the President’s Marine Band these days, so I sent it to her and Kerry Willingham. 7) ‘Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra’ (2009, 2 mvts., 19 min.). I still need to finish the 3rd movement. (Transcribable to Bb Contrabass Clarinet, and up an octave to Bassoon or Bb Bass Clarinet) 8) ‘Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra’ ‘Blues Concerto’ (July 2018, 3 mvts., 35 min.) 9) ‘Concerto for Violin and Orchestra’ (2019, 3 mvts., 40 min.) 10) ‘Concerto for E-Flat Alto Saxophone and Orchestra’ (in progress, begun Jan. 14, 2020).”   D


design position, which included architectural model building, project management, mural designs, monthly publications, and a new city logo, monuments, entry signs, and a wide variety of marketing design and specialty printing for the Community Development Department and citywide projects. I retired in 2005 and now enjoy living at the beach, painting, and surfing.” Carson Kievman (Music BFA 75, MFA 76) notes: “TESLA (multidisciplinary opera): Nikola Tesla was an immigrant from Serbo-Croatia, whose transformative ideas challenged staid society, inherited wealth, and power structures of the Gilded Age. It brings to life the revolutionary race with Thomas Edison to fuel a new era of electricity, and the portentous aftermath. From the peak of worldly renown, Nikola Tesla pursued relentless dreams of tapping natural forces that could further liberate mankind, but instead lead to his early demise. A true visionary, Tesla gave away a vast number of his patents that were fossil fuel-consuming, and he pursued the Tesla coil to connect humanity to the very wheelwork of nature and allow the extraction of free and nonpolluting energy for all. A friend of Mark Twain (our narrator) and a peer of Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and J.P. Morgan (characters in the opera), he nonetheless died a pauper, crushed by the greed and hunger for power of his contemporaries. Tesla’s radical visions of scientific potential and capitalist reform, which led to his rise as well as his downfall, resonate even more powerfully in the 21st century.”

as Henry Selick (Film/Video MFA 77), we were presented with the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement at the ASIFA Annie Award Ceremony on Jan. 25.”   B

writes, “I am honored to have been a part of the sound editing team that won a 2020 MPSE Golden Reel B Award for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. This was my 11th career Golden Reel Award.” Roger Holzberg (Theater BFA 78) reports, “As creative director for Island of Dreams, a large oceanarium project in China, I completed prototyping a series of attractions with free swimming animatronic marine animals. My personal dream is that this initiative will help end the capture of marine mammals for entertainment and education purposes and begin a sustainable way to interact with AI-driven animatronic creatures. See the trailer from the pilot at”   A

Allan Trautman (Theater MFA 78) says, “I was the lead animatronic puppeteer for the title character in Earth to Ned. The show follows Ned, a blue-skinned alien, and his lieutenant

Gar LaSalle (Film/Video MFA 76) says, “Screening our documentary Palliative about pediatric end-of-life issues at Harvard and Massachusetts General. Completed the pilot and second episode screenplays and am heading to LA to pitch, with Barbara Halperin (Theater BFA 76) at Gersh, a TV series based on my books The Widow Walk Saga. I am continuing to teach resident emergency physicians ‘Survival and the Business of Medicine’ at Cornell and Columbia.”   C

John Musker (Film/Video BFA 76) notes, “With Disney partner, Ron Clements, as well


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Gregg Barbanell

(Film/Video BFA 77)


L. Martina Young, Ph.D. (Dance BFA 78) writes, “Dance artist and scholar of comparative myth, I am a guest artist/lecturer for the northern Nevada senior community of Revel Rancharrah. In February, I discussed and analyzed the iconic emblems and characteristics of deities of love, grace, and beauty: the Greek Aphrodite, Yoruba Oshun, and Hindu Saraswati. In April I began a series of talks, The Swan Lectures, based

Kevin Richardson (Film/Video MFA 81) says, “I am working with John Hart Studios to adapt the classic comic strip ‘Wizard of Id’ toward an animated series. The strip is drawn daily by the grandchildren of John Hart, Mason and Mick Mastroianni, and is published in 1,000 papers worldwide.”   F

Gary Schwartz (Film/Video MFA 81) reports, “My film, Spencer’s Slight Imperfect Peep Show AKA Micro-Burlesque, has been selected for this year’s Ann Arbor Film Festival.”   H


Steve Bilow (Music BFA 82) notes, “I have just published an issue of the Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) Motion Imaging Journal, which I guest edited on the topic of artificial intelligence and machine learning in media and entertainment. I will be presenting an SMPTE Webinar on that topic in May.”


Amy Knoles (Music BFA 82) sends us an update: “Last January I went to Jakarta to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sacred Rhythm Festival. I was a participant in the original UNESCO-sanctioned festival, which, at that time, featured more than 1,000 percussionists in the lineup. This January the Sacred Rhythm: Reborn Unison (SRRU) was a more intimate event, taking the theme ‘Recognizing Rhythm’ and the tagline ‘Bridging Art-Science-Conscience,’ coordinated by Ginastera ‘Boo-Boo’ Sianturi, son of the recently passed Serrano Sianturi (visionary and creator of the Sacred Bridge Foundation), and visual artist Bintang Perkasa. This time around, HASOM Faculty Houman Pourmehdi and Joel Virgel-Vierset came with. Together we are the trio known as FLOOD. We spent a week working with ‘Rhythm Salad Workshop’ participants, collaborating on a piece that had Persian influences, analog drum machines, Balinese Gamelan (led by Komang Astita), melodica, electric guitars, voice, and more. The trio performed a set as well as Acehnese Canang 7 Atjeh Ensemble, Betawi’s gambang kromong troupe Kinang Putra, and DJ Leno Rei. ‘Rhythm Salad’ ended the festival. It was life-changing!”   I


on my investigations of the swan image in world myth and identifying generative and healing aspects of the image for our contemporary world.”   E

Beth Brody (Myra Greenblatt)

(Dance MFA 79) reports, “After receiving

my MFA in dance, I studied further for an MFA in poetry from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. I taught ballet and modern dance for 30 years. I performed in my own and others’ pieces, based in Minneapolis. I received choreography H

fellowships from the MICA/McKnight program and the NEA. I participated in eight Choreographers’ Evenings at Walker Art Center, three as coordinator or curator. I also had the pleasure of two visits to the CalArts School of Dance to make pieces with other alumni. The University of Iowa Foundation published three articles that I wrote— profiles of arts staff. I’ll retire from teaching soon (I’m 65), though I still hope to choreograph. I’m married to Edwin Ira Brody and have a grown stepson, Elliot.” Cary Gries (Art BFA 79) says, “I just completed the illustrations for a spoken word poet. The job came to me through CalArts alum Michael R. Garcia (Art BFA 79). Visit to learn more.”

Eighties Dana Berman Duff (Art BFA 81) writes, “REDCAT will be screening an evening of Dana Berman Duff’s short films on May 11, 2020.”   G

Anna Rubin (Music BFA 75, MFA 82) writes, “I retired in 2018 from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where I had taught composition and electronic music for several years. Recent projects include the premiere of a commissioned work from the Washington International Chorus and I

Emily Hay (Music MFA 81) checks in: “I live in the mountains near Ojai, Calif., with my two dogs. I play experimental, improvised, and ‘outside’ music in several ensembles. And I continue to work as a paralegal for Rimon Law, representing major rock stars, bands, composers, etc.”

the POOL


Class Notes A



For the Love of Bees for actor Pamela Fields and pianist Sandrine Erdely-Sayo, which premiered at the Piano on the Rocks Festival, Sedona, Ariz., and at the University of the Andes, Bogotá (Colombia). The festival has commissioned me to write a work for an actor and two pianists on the subject of black holes, premiering in spring 2020.”   A

Molly Lyons (Matthiesen) (Theater MFA 83)

says, “I recently relocated to Tucson, Ariz., from Chicago and directed Lanford Wilson’s Angels Fall for Winding Road Theater, which ran to full houses from February to March.” Laurie Raskin (Art BFA 74, MFA 83) checks in: “I am currently pursuing my passion of making art. I have representation in Brussels, Paris, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. I recently had my second solo show in Paris and am currently featured in That Layered Look 2 at Tufenkian Fine Arts. In 2017, there was a two-page spread in Paris March Magazine on my collaboration on a carpet line based on my art. My work has been shown in art fairs internationally and is included in numerous private and public collections. My work was recently on the inside and back covers of CalArts alumni magazine, The Pool.”   B

Karen Atkinson (Art MFA 84) notes, “Getting Your Sh*t Together/GYST, founded by Karen Atkinson in 2005, has launched new software for visual artists. While GYST has been providing software to artists since 2000, this new version is cloud- or browser-based.


CalArts Alumni Magazine


GYST also provides over 400 pages of free resources, deadlines, GYST Radio Archive, ‘How The Art World Works Podcast,’ and services for artists all on our website. Take a look at” Jamie Bishton (Dance BFA 84) says, “I recently joined the board of directors of the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City, reuniting with my long-term mentor, boss, and friend Mikhail Baryshnikov to further our mission as a gathering space for artists from all disciplines. I continue to serve on the Board of Councilors of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. In 2020, I was named president of the NOARUS Auto Group.”   D

Juri Koll (Art BFA 84) reports, “The Venice Institute of Contemporary Art (ViCA) has opened a new gallery at the Bendix Building in DTLA. We are planning a CalArts alumni show at the end of 2020.” Cindy Pepper (Dance BFA 84) checks in: “I will be a presenter at the ART from The Tart National Convention in New Orleans. I represent Young Audiences of Northern California. I will also be the choreographer for Chuck Prophet’s new Rock video!”   C

Jeff Perry (Music MFA 84) updates us: “In fall 2019, I concluded a two-year term   E

as editor of Music Theory Online, one of the oldest online peer-reviewed journals in any field. My work for cello and piano, ‘Funeral Games,’ recently received its premiere at Louisiana State University, where I’ve been a member of the music theory faculty since 1994. In January, my tape collage, All the Best People Live In Van Nuys, was included in reVox, a multimedia installation in which composers revisit and remix OHAM interviews, at Yale University. It included excerpts from interviews with (and music of) Mel Powell.” Sarah Schneiderman (Art MFA 84) says, “The Ely Center for Contemporary Art’s show Witchy includes two of my political portraits: Role-model for Women’s Empowerment? (45’s Advisor and First Daughter Ivanka Trump) and Torturer in Chief (45’s Director of the Central Intelligence Agency #2 - Gina Haspel). This show ran March 1 – April 19, 2020. The Nasty Women Art Exhibition: Rituals of Resistance includes one of my political portraits: 45’s First Fire (Acting Attorney General #1 – Sally Yates). Rituals of Resistance ran from March 8 – April 8 at The Urban Collective. Both venues are in New Haven, Connecticut.”   G

Eric Christiansen (Film/Video BFA 85) reports, “For the last 25 years, I have been creating films about trauma recovery designed to enrich the human spirit with healing and hope. My last documentary, Searching for Home: Coming Back from War, was theatrically released then later premiered on public television through   H


KCET Los Angeles and NETA. In three years, it aired over 2,300 times on PBS stations across the United States. The New York Times called it ‘...strikingly photographed by Mr. Christiansen and is sure to give comfort and support to countless veterans and their families.’ It is now available on streaming platforms. Currently, I’m working on my next documentary, unMASKing Hope, which chronicles a disparate group of trauma survivors—ranging from 9/11, the Route 91 shooting, service members, first responders, and chronic sexual abuse victims who don ‘masks’ to hide their spiritual and emotional pain. They share their extraordinary stories of healing and offer a unified message of hope, inspiring us to unmask our own hope. Another CalArts alumnus, Ed Bell (Film/Video CERT 88), created the film’s animation. Also, I recently completed a screenplay based upon my 2002 documentary, Homecoming: A Vietnam Vets Journey and am currently working with producers to develop and produce.” Kiki Ebsen (Music BFA 85) says, “Upon graduation, I parlayed my skills together with what I learned at CalArts into my first touring job as an off-stage keyboardist and MIDI   F


programmer for the rock group Chicago. This led to a 30-year stint as a touring sideman, singing and playing piano for dozens of acts, including Al Jarreau, Boz Scaggs, Tracy Chapman, and Christopher Cross. During that time, I released seven solo CDs with a new one set for release this summer. In recent years, I created a one-woman show about my father called To Dad With Love: A Tribute to Buddy Ebsen. This award-winning musical ran for a month last fall at Theatre West in Hollywood to rave reviews ( My Joni Mitchell Project was launched in 2016 to pay homage to this amazing songwriter and features LA’s finest musicians. I perform solo concerts often as well as guest with symphony pops orchestras and bring my ensembles to cabaret, festival, and civic and cultural arts center settings ( I founded The Healing Equine Ranch 501(c)3 organization ( 13 years ago as a horse sanctuary. It serves as an education center as well as a space for natural horsemanship enthusiasts.” Jay (Scott) Hackleman (Music BFA 85) checks in: “Thanks to Ravi Shankar’s sponsorship, I lived in India for about a year on a grant from the American Institute of Indian Studies to apprentice with a master musical instrument maker. Since then, I’ve been busy repairing and building Indian classical instruments as well as commissions for bespoke musical instruments ( Of the bespoke instruments I’ve made, the most fun and challenging have been building the replicas of Harry Partch’s stringed instruments for the LA group PARTCH ( The most recent was the completion of a replica of ‘Kithara II’ (c. 1954) in time for PARTCH’s performance of The Wayward on Nov. 9, 2019.”   I



Georgi Ann Coquereau-Kimi (Art MFA 86) updates us: “My recent publication Gas Station Bathrooms I Slept In, a bibliography with accompanying photos and illustration works, is aimed to empower others—youth, who might have or might be experiencing similar searing situations—and demonstrate

how estrangement can be diverted to individualism that becomes a freedom to think and create, instead of a more passive seeing. This better enables one to be the director of one’s realities and intellectual potentials. In the last three years, I served as a visiting artist for Can Serrat, Barcelona, on full grant, and A.I.R. Vallauris, Vallauris, France. My work was featured in several exhibitions around the globe, including a private viewing at the Louvre: The Interiors Collection (group exhibition, July 13, 2015) and in an accompanied annual hardcover book. As an 8×10 Camera Club member, I have participated in group shows at the Meguro Museum Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, since 2013. An upcoming exhibition will be held at the Koto Cultural Center, Tokyo, Japan: July 21–26.” Flenoit Webster (Art BFA 86) says, “When I left CalArts, I began working for a director named Marty Thomas, who just passed away last year. Marty was hired by Jerry Heller, and we shot what are known today as some of the West Coast’s most classic hip-hop/rap music videos. We’ve gathered a few nominations and provided programming to MTV, VH-1, BET, and Music Plus+. I’ve been working as an NGO/production assistant. My goal is to help young artists and scholars, so I have put my efforts toward creating events and programs to help raise funds to create media centers in Africa and Brazil and in urban sections of the United States. THE SOFOMU iFEST (Soul Food Music International Festival) is the answer. I’m inviting all interested CalArtians to participate in either the planning and execution phases or performance at the actual event, which will be held in Indio at the Riverside County Fairgrounds. I’ve also been working on anti-human trafficking efforts and attempting to bring awareness to the rise in the slave trade in Libya. Last year, we helped a young filmmaker and his group of 149 members get out of Libya to parts of southern Europe. I’m also set to begin works on documentaries and other media efforts that speak on human rights and works to solve issues. I’m always happy to read about the successes of other alumni. Until now, I never had much to say, but now it’s showtime, and I could use a hand!”

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Class Notes A

Ramsey Avery (Theater MFA 87) tells us about “Two ‘pinch me, is this really happening?’ projects: This summer, the design I did for Disney California Adventure’s Avengers Campus will be opening. I designed the new land, as well as a new attraction and several other facilities. I also worked on the design for the new Avengers attraction that will be opening later. However, completely out of the blue, I’ve gotten the opportunity to go to New Zealand and do production design for the new Amazon Prime streaming series, The Lord of the Rings.” Joleen Belle (Music BFA 87) says, “I have been writing songs for artists in film and television. I have won an Emmy for a song in an animated short in 2019 written for Kelly Clarkson, Lea Michele, Tori Kelly, Selena Gomez, and various other pop artists. I have written four television theme songs and have several hundred film/TV credits to my name.” Theresa Chavez (Art BFA 85, MFA 87) says, “I’m currently collaborating with two other CalArtians on Adobe Punk, an original theaterwork ( adobe-punk). I am co-writing/co-directing with Gabriel Garza, my son, whose idea the project is based on. Joining us are Sage Lewis (Music MFA 07) and Dorothy Hoover (Theater MFA 12) as music director and set designer, respectively. Set to premiere in 2021, Adobe Punk is a work of historical fiction set in the early ‘80s in working-class Bell Gardens, Calif. It tells the story of three young punk music fans who find refuge in what turns out to be one of the oldest adobe homes in LA County. It will take cues from a set of LA-based punk songs that will be reimagined by Sage Lewis, with set designer Dorothy Hoover envisioning the house at the center of the story. Production is being developed by About…Productions, an award-winning not-for-profit theater company now in its 31st year. The company was formed by four CalArtians in 1988— Mark Laska (Theater BFA 86), Alan Pulner (Art MFA 87), Michel Schatkleff, and myself—and continues to produce original theaterworks and provide transformative arts education programs for highest-risk and educationally disadvantaged youth.”

Peter Duschenes (Theater MFA 88) reports: “Three decades ago, this past January, a 40-foot monster interrupted a concert given by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and threatened to destroy music forever. In a battle involving puppets, masks, actors, and 60 musicians, the monster and the audience ‘duked’ it out to see which would triumph: noise or music. That was the beginnings of Platypus Theatre. Since that time, we’ve performed with more than 75 orchestras in seven countries on three continents, including, most recently, the Singapore Symphony and the Malaysian Philharmonic. On a personal note, I live in Ottawa, Canada, with my wife Sarah who works for the federal government, and we have two children, Magda and Theo. Magda is finishing her first year at the University of Waterloo studying Public Health, and Theo is in grade 11 at our local public high school and spends a lot of time playing and thinking about baseball. Ottawa is a long way from CalArts, but the school still holds a special place in my heart.” Sindy Fredrick (Art BFA 88) says, “After working at various ad agencies all over Los Angeles for the past 30 years, I became a marketing manager for my son’s band Undecided Future (my guitarist son, also attended CalArts). We are releasing one new song per month in 2020. I’m so proud to be working for them. They have a residency at Downtown Disney on the main stage. Come check them out!”   B

CalArts Alumni Magazine

Charly Bloomquist (Art BFA 90, MFA 92) checks in: “I have been teaching darkroom photography since 1994 and digital photography since 2007 at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.”   G

A. Laura Brody (Theater MFA 92) says, “I am curating Opulent Mobility 2020 at UCPLA’s Washington Reid Gallery. This group exhibit is seeking art that reimagines disability as opulent and powerful. The deadline for submissions is June 30, and the show will run November 2020 – January 2021. More about the show at”   C


Matt Levine

(Music BFA 92)

reports, “I created ‘Tone Pool,’ a sound healing app for iOS and Android: www.uval. com. I released Circadian, a tonal meditation album: www.mattlevinemusic. com. I teach at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.” Yvonne Papanek (Dance BFA 93) writes, “I’m working in LA. Commuting. So, I use that time for ‘creating,’ ‘thinking,’ ‘transitioning,’ ‘cycles.’ My class note is regarding the creative process as it relates to ‘liberation.’ Dancing gives the body/mind an avenue of expression that is fresh, genuine, real, and healing in a wholesome kind of way. Today, we live in an inflated climate of information and stimulation, giving us more to express and more to create with. I would like to talk about this expanded version of ‘expression’ in ‘creativity.’”

  A


with direct action organizing. An early joiner, I’m now coordinator of the XR graphics and visual design working group as well as co-lead of my neighborhood group, North Brooklyn Extinction Rebellion (NBXR). In addition to a campaign aimed at pressuring the dominant media to tell the truth about the climate emergency, XR was also instrumental in getting New York City to declare a climate emergency. More info at xrebellion. nyc. We need everybody now!”

  D

Mellissa Tong

(Music MFA 93) tells us: B

Nineties Caschia Jones (Dance BFA 90) writes, “I recently relocated near CalArts, so I’m looking forward to attending many events!” Sarah Vogwill (ART MFA 90) says, “I’ve set aside my art practice to become actively engaged with the international environmental activist movement, Extinction Rebellion. After hosting Hudson Valley Intentional Community meetups for two years, I’ve shifted to facing the crisis head-on   F

“Two of the compilation books that I’m a part of became best sellers on Amazon last October. It was incredibly exciting to D have both come out in the same month. The first book is about 100 influential entrepreneurs in the US and how they overcame their biggest obstacles. My story was about getting over the fear of public speaking. The second book is a word book, and my word is ‘change.’” Dustin Boyer (Music BFA 94) says, “Hello, CalArtians! Over the last 14 years I have had the pleasure of touring, playing guitar, and

idea for a large-scale biochar production as a CO2 sink and soil improvement. Well, I could use a million or more, but less is accepted as well!” Megumi Nakai (Art BFA 97) reports, “I have taken the pre-first class exam for kimono by the Japanese Dress Association in Kyoto, as well as a culinary license specializing in Japanese culinary, and an International Sake Sommelier license from Sake Service Institute International. I am currently training myself to become a Master Sake Sommelier and pass the first class exam of kimono as well, to help out inbound clients for the Tokyo Olympics. I’m looking forward to meeting alumni friends who visit Japan.”



recording with John Cale (co-founder of the Velvet Underground, producer, and solo artist). It’s been a wild ride since graduation with multiple projects, including Descanso and The Dusty Meadows Band. I will also be releasing a new solo album titled Devotion in 2020 on our family label Soop Records. I have fond memories of drive-in movies on the lawn and L Shape Gallery parties!” Dana Lawton (McCue) (Dance BFA 94) reports, “I am the artistic director of Dana Lawton Dances (DLD), founded in 2007, in addition to being a tenured faculty member at Saint Mary’s College in the Performing Arts Department, a faculty member at ShawlAnderson Dance Center, and co-director of the Enchanted Ridge Dance Retreat. DLD’s home season is the world premiere of The Farallonites, a collaborative, multidisciplinary work investigating the tenacity, resilience, and strength of the human spirit in an evening-length performance exploring the lighthouse keepers and their families who lived on the Farallon Islands starting in the mid-1850s to the early 1900s. In collaboration with Linda Baumgardner (Theater MFA 08), the evening-length work will weave dance with light, poetry, music, and visual art—using the harsh physical conditions, repetitive hard labor, and

near-total isolation experienced by these families as recognizable themes through which audiences can explore their own humanity. Performances are Nov. 6–8, 2020 at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco.” Volker Langhoff (Film/Video MFA 96) says, “Last year I came back home after having spent two years as a resident artist and fulltime professor at the Seoul Institute of the Arts in South Korea working with CalArtian Yoo Tay (Film/Video, Theater MFA 96). I’ve had the fortune of traveling to 50 countries so far. But Korea was quite a challenge, finding myself thrown into a world where language and culture, virtually all I see and smell and taste, are so different from all I had experienced before. What an interesting but busy time, especially since I started some additional studies just before being invited to Seoul! In addition, I shot in Greece a KoreanAmerican musical directed by Wangtae Kim (Film/Video, Theater MFA 96). Back in Berlin, I work as a freelance cinematographer, bringing my father’s business back on track and donating much of my time supporting ‘Fridays for Future’ and other organizations working against climate change. I could use help here, so if you have time, energy, and/or money, please let me know. I am working on some English-language film projects and an

David Weinberg (Critical Studies, Theater BFA 97) writes, “I moved to London in 2003 to complete an MA at RADA, and I have since worked as an actor and director at West End theaters, including the Arts Theater, Leicester Square Theater, St. James Theater, Trafalgar Studios, and the Soho Theater, as well as Off-West End/regionally/ internationally at the Young Vic Theater, Oxford Playhouse, Piper’s Opera House, Cockpit Theater, King’s Head Theater, Rose Playhouse, Theatro Technis, Baron’s Court Theater, Burton Taylor Studio, Etcetera Theater, Actors Lab Theater (Los Angeles), Hudson Theater (Los Angeles), RADA, and a festival hosted by the RSC in Stratfordupon-Avon. In 2012 it was confirmed that I was the first American to direct at the historic Rose Theatre, Bankside, where the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe were first performed. My first book, Off-Broadway/ Off-West End: America Influence on the Alternative Theater Movement in Britain 1956– 1980, was published in 2017. My new book, The Marowitz Compendium, will be published in Europe (Ibidem Press) and America (Columbia University Press) this fall. I have taught theater studies at Kingston University London and the University of London.” Markus Engel (Film/Video, Theater MFA 98) says, “I am shooting a 90-minute movie for the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Association) in June 2020 in Tyrol, Austria.” Joy Gregory (Critical Studies MFA 99) reports: “I’ve been really enjoying the opportunity to engage with voters in Palmdale and Valencia while campaigning for Christy Smith who is running for Congress in CalArts’ congressional district, CA-25. Professionally, I’m working on a screenplay based on the life of Connie Lawn, a freelance reporter and White House correspondent who covered 10 administrations. And I finally finished a first draft of a new play called The Lonely Ape, hopefully coming to a regional theater near you soon.” Juliana von Haubrich (Theater MFA 99) checks in: “I’m still doing the work and grateful to have it. This past year was particularly wonderful. I designed a show called Ann that was produced at The Arena Stage in Washington, DC. That show went on to   E

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Class Notes A

exhibition, Silfurá, hosted by MITHUN. I met new friends and reconnected with Lindsey Yost. Thanks to all who made it happen.” Paul Wehby (Art BFA 99) says, “I will be participating as an artist in The Other Art Fair, Dallas in May. If you’re in the area, please stop by.”   A

Double Ohs Ismael de Anda III (Art MFA 00) reports on two exhibitions: Alptraum (nightmare), Jan. 18 – March 14, 2020, is a wandering exhibition of 2D works by 200-plus artists, from 21-plus countries. Originally conceived and organized by Marcus Sendlinger (Germany) in 2010, the 17th iteration of Alptraum was co-curated by the Torrance Art Museum (TAM). TAM is free to the public. The title was inspired by the paintings of the Swiss artist Johann-Heinrich Füssli (1741–1825) who painted different versions of Incubus (Nachtmahr). Inspired by ghost stories, Füssli made the world of dreams and visions the subject of his paintings. This exhibition reflects on various artistic, social, and cultural circumstances individually concerning nightmares—and each artist’s interpretation or reflection in drawing, collage, photography, or works on paper. The 200-plus artists invited to contribute to this exhibition have been asked to only submit works they have had a direct hand in creating. So physical contact and markmaking on the surface of the material is implied in a manner akin to the scryer, an “automatic writer,” a pyromancer’s stirring of the hot embers, an ectoplasmic   B


Dallas Theatre Center and will be coming to Laguna Playhouse this May. This spring I started working with theater students from Williams College, and this summer I will design shows for WAM Theatre and Chester Theatre in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Hoping to also join Shakespeare & Company again for its 2020 summer season. I had a great review from The Wall Street Journal for my design of The Waverly Gallery, a hit from its last summer season. Hoping to see some of my fellow CalArtians when I’m at Laguna Playhouse this May!” Etta Lilienthal (Theater BFA 97, MFA 99) writes, “I had an amazing event opportunity with the CalArts Office of Alumnx and Family Engagement at my art installation/


CalArts Alumni Magazine

medium—the hand that recreates the subconscious wanderings of its owner. Artists, Advocates, Dreamers, curated by Sofia Gutierrez, was on view Feb. 8 – March 5, 2020 at José Drudis-Biada Art Gallery. Since its conception as a state in 1850, California has been a mecca for freethinkers and pioneers. Prior to that, it was Mexican and indigenous; a land of mestizos (“mixed race” people) who negotiated identity between many worlds. California, at the edge of the United States, continues to maneuver this ever-changing world of migration and the elusiveness of the American Dream. In Artist, Advocates, Dreamers, artists as free-thinkers bring the complexity of migration and identity to our attention through their advocacy and art. Artists include: Alicia Sterling Beach, Khodr Cherri, Nicole Cohen (Critical Studies MFA 09), Ismael de Anda III (Art MFA 00), Eszter Delgado, Isaias Delgado, Gustavo Alberto García Vaca, Mario Gutierrez, Jose Luis Hernandez, Ann Higgins, John Ildefonzo, Kristy H.A. Kang, Beatriz Jaramillo, John C. Lewis, Stephen Linsley, Veronica Preciado, Ricardo Reyes, Bruce Richards, Victor Solis, Marianne Sadowski, Beatriz Valls, Arturo Vizcaino Cortes, Brenda Zozaya, Carolyn Castaño, Albert Valdez, and Amy Putman.   C

Robert Jacobson

(Music MFA 00) says,

“My first book, Space Is Open for Business: The Industry That Can Transform Humanity, will be released in spring 2020. Some of my research might C surprise you, and it includes a section on arts and culture. There’s free content available at I would be grateful for any support from fellow CalArtians (subscribing to email, book reviews, etc.). I’m also adding the Turkish oud to my family of instruments.” Dana Marterella (Critical Studies MFA 00) teaches at Glendale College. She is currently writing her dissertation on culture and politics at UCLA. Bob Bellerue (Music MFA 03) checks in: “I’m an experimental musician, audio engineer, festival curator/producer, educator, and dad in Ridgewood, Queens, NYC. I’ve dug my heels, head, and heart into heavy avantgarde/noise/experimental sound art since the early 2000s, and have kept up the pace as I enter my 50s. I work with multidimensional feedback systems, incorporating instruments (piano, guitar, suling gambuh), metal objects, acoustic objects/spaces, handfuls of mics/contact mics/pickups, and armfuls of speakers of varying sizes. I was awarded a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Music/Sound and performed recently at the High Zero Festival, Basilica

to Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Jazz Road is an artist-centric touring and residency grants program to spread jazz throughout the country, strengthen work opportunities and compensation for jazz artists, and bolster deeper engagement between jazz musicians, presenters, and communities. US-based jazz artists who define themselves as emerging to more established are eligible for support. The program is intended to support jazz artists for which this grant would have a new and significant career impact.” Maile Costa Colbert (Film/Video MFA 04) says, “Hi! Wanted to let you all know the great news: Pacho Velez (Film/Video MFA 10) co-directed The American Sector, a new feature documentary that will be premiering and in competition at Berlinale 2020. The film was made with Courtney Stevens, and I designed


Drone, International Noise Conference, Fridman Gallery, The Kitchen, and the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing. I’ve been hosting the Ende Tymes Festival since 2011. Our 11th iteration was in April. Over the years, we have presented more than 300 noise/avant/radical performances, and it only gets better. My son Neon (6) and I have an improvised band called Zvahrnde (say it like a wolfmanchild). He plays ‘amplified guitar,’ voice, and percussion. I wrote him into my Charmed Piano performance in July 2019, with parts for gentle and fierce percussion acts alongside piano feedback, viola (Jessica Pavone), and baritone sax (Ed Bear). My main work gig is as technical director for Issue Project Room, and I taught a workshop in experimental sound art February–March 2020 at Pioneer Works.” Carole Kim (Film/Video MFA 03) notes, “My site-specific multimedia performance, The seed will search ... is featured in Jacki Apple’s article, ‘Performance in the Face of Climate Crisis: Poetics vs. Polemics,’ in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, vol. 42, issue 1, Jan. 2020, p. 59–63.”   E


Ami Molinelli (Music MFA 03) says, “I released an album, Historia do Choro, with Duo Violão plus 1. It was awarded ‘Best of the Bay Area Jazz Albums’ for 2019, and they are touring this project through October 2020.” Tim Stutts (Music BFA 03) writes, “I’ve been working on the user experience team at spatial computing company, Magic Leap, since summer of 2016. My team continues to design new features for our ML1 product. I do a lot of work around input and operating systems and am responsible for LED and haptic patterns.”


the sound.” More on the film: film-video/american-sector.

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Salvatore (Sam) Torrisi (Music MFA 03) reports, “I got an MFA in composition/ new media in 2003. I went on to earn an MA in applied linguistics and then a Ph.D. in neuroscience at UCLA. My postdoctoral work was accomplished at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, and I am currently a research scientist in

Haeyong Moon (Film/Video MFA 04) checks in to say: “I completed my first feature-length documentary, Broadway Treasures, in the fall of 2019. It’s a film about the historic theaters in downtown Los Angeles and the community of people who have been taking care of the theaters for decades. The film was screened in New York and Los Angeles and will have more screenings during the year. I also lead free walking tours for people who want to learn more about the theaters in downtown. Stay tuned via Twitter @moon_cinema.”   G


UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. I use ultra-high field MRI to study the function and connectivity of the brain and have focused on things such as emotion regulation, bipolar disorder, attention, anxiety, pediatric epilepsy, and vision.” Damon Zick (Music MFA 03) says, “My world chamber jazz ensemble Quarteto Nuevo was awarded a Jazz Road Tours Grant from South Arts to support our spring tour   D

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Class Notes C


Badger Koon (Theater MFA 05) writes, “I am living in Silver Lake, California, and recently graduated from the Upright Citizens Brigade improv program. I am also acting and producing and currently co-producing a web series called Mr. Hustle.”   E



Tanja Raaste (Theater MFA 04) says, “I’m living in South London, working as a producer for the Fourth Monkey Ensemble, currently producing a new touring show, In the Shadow of Walls. It begins in 1961 Berlin where the wall is going up, and it follows the stories of three women, who are dealing with new walls—both literal and figurative, through to the present day. We’ve also just made a short film on the topic with the Imperial War Museum North. I also teach ‘The Business of Performance—Or How to Make a Living’ and have been producing an e-course, which aims to revolutionize how we get kids speaking both parents’ languages. Right now it is raining, it rained yesterday, too, and the day before that—I miss California! If you’re a CalArtian who finds yourself in London, do look me up.”   A

Shaun Fillion (Theater MFA 05) says, “I was scheduled to present at SXSW Innovation Festival on Compassionate Lighting for the Future Urban Night. I also look forward to stargazing with my 6-month-old son, Orion.” Zak Kyes (Art BFA 05) has been elected a member of the Alliance Graphique   D


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Internationale (AGI), a professional body comprising the world’s leading designers. Established by Cassandre in 1952, the AGI is an association of 556 graphic designers appointed by invitation from across the globe. Notable members include Bruno Munari, Herbet Bayer, Wim Crouwel, Adrian Frutiger, Muriel Cooper, Irma Boom, and Peter Saville. Central to the association’s mission is that graphic design is fundamental to how we communicate, educate, and inform. Each year a different city hosts the annual members’ AGI Congress and the public AGI Open Conference. Kyes is the second graduate of California Institute of the Arts to join the AGI after his teacher Jon Sueda (Art MFA 02). W.S. Cheng (Film/Video MFA 05) says, “I was invited by my former colleagues at the Kansas City Chiefs to travel to Miami and experience Super Bowl LIV. The Chiefs won, and they are the world champions. Go, Chiefs!”   B

Trish Hausmann (Theater MFA 05) reports, “After almost 15 years as the house manager, I am now the production manager for the Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance. I will continue teaching my entertainment management courses and add in teaching stage management as well. I also continue to stage manage for the department during our IU summer theater season.”

Jim Santi Owen (Music BFA 92, MFA 05) reports, “After graduating in 2005, I returned to the San Francisco Bay Area where I continue my study of North Indian tabla with CalArts faculty member, Maestro Swapan Chaudhuri. I currently serve on the faculty of the California Jazz Conservatory, Dominican University, and the Ali Akbar College of Music while also maintaining a thriving private music student practice and a busy schedule of artist residencies in Bay Area schools. From 2009–14, I served as the music director for the San Francisco World Music Festival. Since 2017, my work as a composer/ producer/recording artist has been featured on Facebook’s Sound Collection, which houses nearly 150 of my original and traditional tracks. This work has taken me to India, Ghana, Sardinia, and Israel to record world-class artists and create original audio content available for streaming and download. From 2011–14, I sat on the Community Arts Panel for the Zellerbach Family Foundation and am currently six months into my second three-year term as chair of the Funding Advisory Committee for the city of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program. In 2018, I founded Jim Santi Owen Music, Inc., a music production and educational company focused on producing music from around the world.”   C

Emery Martin (Film/Video BFA 06) says, “For the fifth consecutive year, the creative duo of Emery C. Martin and Kerstin L. Hovland (Film/Video MFA 12), aka Electronic Countermeasures, worked with LACMA and PRODJECT to design the animated projected backdrops for the LACMA ART+FILM Gala 2019. This year the projections expanded to not only be the environment for the dining room but also include the exterior facades of the Ahmanson Building, which had not been done previously, and likely will not be done again as it was slated for demolition. The animations focused on celestial bodies, historic star charts, and the work of both Betye Saar and Alfonso Cuarón.” Zachary Morris (Music BFA 06) checks in: “My new band, The Bronze Medal Hopefuls, just released its first animated video single, and the rest of the EP will be released in the spring. We are excited about this project as we explore original compositions inspired by funk, ’70s comic books, and hero and heroines of B movies and ’70s action and detective films.” Min Son (Art BFA 06) says, “The last year has been really exciting for me! I’ve transitioned into business consulting, where CalArts conceptual art studies have been an advantage. I am a partner at Refinery Consulting, a new design thinking consulting firm based in Louisville, Kentucky. I’ve also started taking

a leadership role in the community, where I’ve been appointed principal of the Korean School of Louisville. I’ve also accepted an officer role for the Korean Association of Louisville. This January I was awarded a spot in the prestigious Bingham Fellows program in Louisville, where I’ll work alongside leaders of the community to build a global community.” Danielle Ash (Film/Video MFA 08) writes, “Since my thesis film Pickles for Nickels, I have been happy to create animated cardboard films for Sesame Street. And now, after more than three years in production, my latest film, The Girl with the Rivet Gun, is out in festivals with the Black Maria Film Festival, AMDOCS, and CineQuest 2020. It is an animated documentary short celebrating women in the workforce.”   See page 63

Daren Burns (Music BFA 97, MFA 08) says, “Besides teaching music in Beijing for the past three years, a double quartet +1 recording I made at NRG Studios with CalArts alumni Woody Aplanalp (Music BFA 95, MFA 99), Motoko Honda (Music MFA 02), Trevor Anderies (Music BFA 08, MFA 16), Brian Walsh (Music BFA 06, MFA 08), Craig Bunch (Music BFA 99), and faculty Vinny Golia, Randy Gloss (Music MFA 97), as well as LA stalwart Steuart Liebig is currently being mixed by Grammy-winning

engineer Matt Brownlie and will be released later this year.” Joe Milazzo (Critical Studies MFA 08) writes, “I have two chapbooks coming out in 2020: @p_roblem_s (Reality Beach) and homeopathy for the singularity (The Magnetic Field). More information about each title may be found at pre-order-forthcoming-titles-for-2020 and at”

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G   G

Zjana Muraro (Jana Velinova)

(Dance BFA 08) reports, “Award-winning

dancer, choreographer, and scholar, I completed an MFA in choreography at Trinity Laban in London (2019), where I have also guest lectured. Previously earning an MA in performance studies from NYU Tisch (2015) and a PGDip in computational (digital) arts from Goldsmiths University of London, my academic career has been developing alongside my work as an independent artist. As a somatics practitioner, I’ve qualified in Feldenkrais®, Ilan Lev Method, and Gyrotonic©, teaching these alongside contemporary dance technique through guest lecturing and as a visiting artist at international universities and dance centers. Originally from New York, my career as a professional dancer has had me travel to perform live for thousands and millions of TV viewers worldwide. My current artwork is focused on bringing together technology and dance. I will be starting work on a project to bring virtual reality into the dance studio. My most recent publication, Improvisation, Avatars, and New Media, will be presented at the University of Malta this spring, and I also guest lectured on the topic at Trinity Laban in London.”

Twenty Tens Rebecca Levy (Dance MFA 10) writes, “In October 2019, I performed with CalArts alumnx Hector Machado (Theater BFA 10) in Allied Bodies at the Miami Dade County Auditorium. The show was a shared concert with my company, Jacksonville Dance Theatre, and Pioneer Winter Collective

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Class Notes

Janice Lobo Sapigao (Critical Studies MFA 13) notes, “I am the 2020/21 Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County.” Alexis Macnab (Theater MFA 13) writes, “I’ve been blessed to have collaborations with CalArtians both personal and professional. This year’s highlights in art and life include directing the premiere of Amanda Jane Shank’s (Theater MFA 13) The Fasting Girls at Z Below in San Francisco, directing the CalArts CNP performance installation of Virginia Grise’s (Theater MFA 09) rasgos asiáticos in collaboration with Automata in LA’s Chinatown, and exchanging vows with Thadeus C. Frazier-Reed (Music BFA 05) in the California redwoods.”   C




of Miami. We look forward to performing together again in 2020.” Natalie Metzger (Dance MFA 11) says, “I’m producing a new movie called Werewolves Within, starring Sam Richardson for Ubisoft’s new film studio. Greener Grass, which I produced and which premiered at Sundance, was nominated for a Spirit Award. I’m also currently in post-production on Jim Cummings’ newest film The Beta Test.”   A

Clifford Pun (Art MFA 11) reports that Donna Brown (Art MFA 11) and Chris Velasco (Art BFA 10) presented The Fellowship: Subverting the Imagined Family Portrait in Photography at the 2019 Society for Photographic Education Chapter Conference “All-Inclusive: Photography for Social Justice” at Santa Clara University on Nov. 2, 2019.   B

John Warren (Film/Video MFA 12) notes: “My short experimental video, ‘Hot Pursuit,’ premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival.”   D

Amanda K Cole (Washko) (Theater MFA 13) says, “I just wrapped up my third consecutive season as the resident intimacy choreographer at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon. Recent credits also include movement and intimacy direction at Portland Center Stage for Macbeth. I continue working as a movement director and choreographer,


CalArts Alumni Magazine


advocating for safe, sustainable, and respectful practice around the staging of intimacy and violence in the industry. I am an apprentice with Intimacy Directors International, currently pursuing certification with Intimacy Directors and Coordinators. I also recently joined Stage Directors and Choreographers Society as a full member. I also work at a local nonprofit agency providing advocacy services to victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I spend any and all of my free time with my partner, three children, and fur babies exploring the often-rainy Pacific Northwest. Oh, and eating pizza. Lots of pizza.”

  E  Braden Diotte (Music MFA 14) says, “I’m happy to report that my 2013 work General Manifest has been recorded and was released as an album on Dec. 31, 2019. The inspiration behind General Manifest came two-fold. Aesthetically, I wanted to create a piece to pay tribute to the fleeting music that I’ve witnessed emanating from the underbelly of thousands of tons of rolling stock over a 20-year span in which I was riding freight trains throughout the American West. At the same time, I also wanted to create a piece based upon the broader notion of birthright freedoms. Where these concepts intersect, a philosophy exists that’s as personal as it is political, as anarchistic as it is patriotic, and as natural as it is spiritual. Stream or download General Manifest at”

Lionel Williams (Art BFA 14) notes, “A new work, titled Azure, collages over 25 paintings by James McCarthy, Sergio Macedo, Tokyo Aoyoma, Brian Cooper, Carlos Ochagavia, Roger Dean, Tuco Amalfi, Kay Nielsen, Adrian Kenyon, Dustin Yellin, Jordan Speer, Henry Hudson, Gilbert Williams, Mario   H





Martinez, Luke Schroeder, Jonathen Solter, Ton Harin, Remedios Varo, Marty Morales, Kate Klingbell, and Shana Moulton.”

multi-instrumentalist, voice actress, actress, educator, writer, and collaborator who continues to work on narrative projects.”

Wheesung Baek (Film/Video 16) says, “CalArts changed not only the technology but also the way I looked at the world with art. I was happy to spend the best year and a half of my life at the world’s best animation school! Professors Andrew Park, my mentor; Leo Hobaica; Steve Brown, who was the professor of my life drawing class; Maija Burnett; and Dan Hansen, who was a retired dean, were so kind despite my broken English and lack of art skills. For me, who is poor at English, not only watching animations with my friends in various English languages, but also making animations, has completely changed. Unlike in Korea, I was able to draw while listening to actors, musicals, and dance classes without distinction from other subjects, so that free curricula have forgotten my worries and instead have made my dreams clear. Not only animation, but also the way I see the world, has been changed by being at CalArts. Thank you so much! :)”

Sara Martin (Film/Video BFA 16) reports, “I am currently working at Stoopid Buddy Stoodios as a post production coordinator on Justin Roiland’s new show Gloop World, Marvel’s Hulu Show M.O.D.O.K., and many other unannounced productions that are slated to premiere on Hulu, Quibi, and other streaming platforms. I am also an assistant editor for Buddy Spots and worked on two Mickey Mouse holiday spots for Disney Junior and three Goldfish commercials.”

Diana Cioffari-MacPhee (Music MFA 16) checks in: “By day, I am a program associate in the Alumnx & Family Engagement Office at CalArts. Outside of my work at the Institute, I am a vocalist, composer,

Sarah Melnick (Van Sciver) (Music MFA 16) says, “Keeping busy and loving every minute as the Alumnx & Family Engagement assistant director for CalArts. I also run my own freelance company, Songbird, as a songwriter, composer, arranger, vocalist, harpist, ukulele player, pianist, sound designer, and audio/music engineer for screen, stage, and studio productions. For anyone with film, theater, album, or other music/narrative projects, I would love to collaborate by contributing song, score, or sound! www.” Davy Sumner (Music MFA 16) writes, “In December 2019, I ‘punched it’ around   G

the galaxy as a sound editor and mixer on an update of Disney Imagineering’s Star Tours attraction at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, coinciding with the release of the film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. On a more earthly note, I have collaborated with alumni Trey Gilmore (Theater MFA 17), Sal Mannino (Theater MFA 17), Jesse Garrison (Theater MFA 17), and Keith Skretch (Theater MFA 12) to score, sound design, and mix (in Dolby Atmos) two projection mapped installations for the Museum of Ice Cream’s first permanent NYC space. Yvette Holzwarth (Music MFA 16), Ben Finley (Music MFA 16), and Chris Williams (Music MFA 17) sprinkled in extra sweetness by adding a triple scoop of violin, trumpet, and bass to my synth-churned soundtrack. After my ice cream brain freeze wore off, I composed and performed original music for Jonghee Woo’s (Theater MFA 16) The Burning Field, an immersive theater performance on wildfires, firefighters, and PTSD in Seoul, South Korea. Most recently, I have recorded and mixed Ben Richter’s (Music DMA 21) premiere realization of Phill Niblock’s Exploratory, a behemoth of a work for microtonal accordion. Be warned of the release of this juggernaut as part of a Niblock box set in summer 2020.” Caleb Veazey (Music MFA 16) reports, “Life has been a whirlwind since graduating with many opportunities and struggles. I released my first record in 2018 titled   F

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Class Notes A

Wander and Moral with CalArts alumni Trevor Anderies-Roitstein (Music MFA 16), Yvette Holzwarth (Music MFA 16), and Ben Finley (Music MFA 16). Last summer I was invited to perform at a music festival in Bulgaria with Clinton Patterson (Music MFA 07), Sheela Bringi (Music MFA 08), Chris Payne (Music MFA 08), Neelamjit Dillon (Music DMA 15), and Oliwa Newell (MFA BFA 08). I perform every Friday night at the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s third floor hotel bar in DTLA and am constantly planning new releases with the likes of Clint Dodson (Music MFA 17), Miller Wrenn (Music MFA 17), Elizabeth Baba (Music BFA 12), Greg Uhlmann (Music BFA 14), Efa Etoroma Jr. (Music MFA 15), and Vera Weber (Music BFA 19). I was the musical director and contributed compositions to season two of Das Boot, which will appear on Hulu during summer 2020. Things are constantly changing with the world today, so to stay financially stable and grateful, I substitute teach at the LA County juvenile detention halls. It is important to realize the bubble you live in and pop it when you need to be reminded that making art is a privilege!” Oscar Corona (Art BFA 17) writes, “Hola! Just surviving and pushing forward, same old same old. Remember: It’s a dog-eat-dog world. You sink or swim—choose one. Play to your strengths. Make art for art’s sake. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not worth it. That’s the _________ way. I challenge you to take a risk, be vulnerable. List gratitude. Practicing radical mindfulness is a daily act of resistance. Every day you exist you are a revolutionary. Life is full of joy, pains, pleasures, fear—you, however, have complete autonomy and free will, keep your head up. As for me: being an art ghoul in sunny Los Angeles! Pursuing an MFA in the near future, and planning to present a new body


CalArts Alumni Magazine

Janessa Grace Boom (Film/Video BFA 19) notes, “Since graduating from CalArts, I have gone on to costume design for the first feature I’ve ever worked on, Lisa and Liza, which is being directed by Liat Benezra (Film/Video BFA 20) and Shianne Yang (Film/Video BFA 20). I also have been signed with a modeling agency called Contra Agency! Headshot taken by Pinar Sener!”   B

Noel Chang (Brandon) (Music MFA 19) writes, “BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT 2020.” Karina Majewski (Fathi) (Theater MFA 19) says, “After graduation, I married James Majewski (Theater MFA 19) at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Newhall last June. In November we moved to New York City, and in April we welcomed our first child. (A boy!)”   A


of sculptural plus video work come spring/ summer 2020 :) Keep your eyes peeled!” Dionna Daniel (Theater BFA 17) reports, “I am now the artistic associate of the Pasadena Playhouse, the official state theater of California!” Sam Gurry (Film/Video MFA 18) says, “I was lucky enough to create the animation for Catherine Opie’s Rhetorical Landscapes show, which opened at Regen Projects last February.”

In Memoriam Remembering Chouinardians and CalArtians who have recently passed Scott Courtlandt Davis (1954–2020) Artist and CalArts alum Scott Courtlandt Davis (Art MFA 05) passed away suddenly on Feb. 7, 2020. Born in Keene, NH, the prolific artist earned his BA in Mass Communications and Studio Art from the University of New Hampshire, Durham in 1976, and in 1980 moved to Los Angeles, where he met his partner and wife, Denise Davis (Art MFA 99), at a photography class in 1982. Their collaboration as partners in ongoing creative ventures under their nom d’art, Davis & Davis, began immediately after they started dating and continued long after they married in 1985. Their first art photography series was Modern Romance, in which they portrayed all characters in nearly four dozen couple dramas. In 2005, Davis earned his MFA at CalArts in Art/ Photography & Media, and he taught a number of classes including Graphic Design, Fine Art Photography, Web Design, Multimedia Design, Computer Graphics and Computer Aided Design for Fashion Marketing, and Digital Design at California State University, Los Angeles; West Los Angeles College; California State University, Northridge; El Camino College; and Loyola Marymount University.


The artwork of Davis & Davis has been shown all over the world, including no heroics please at REDCAT in Los Angeles; MetaPet Launch at MOCA at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif.; Ring the Changes at Max and Zavattero in San Francisco; Unseriously Serious at Linda Warren Gallery in Chicago; And the Dish Ran Away with The Spoon at Collectors Contemporary in Singapore; Childish Things & Small Talents at Kenji Yoko Fine Arts in Tokyo; and Dangerous Beauty at Chelsea Art Museum in New York City and PAN Palazzo delle Arti Napoli in Naples, Italy. Davis & Davis’ book of their lost and abandoned toy series narrative, Childish Things, was published by Santa Monica Press in 2004. Their work can be found at as well as in the public

collections at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, Kan.; California State University, Los Angeles; Kinsey Institute at Indiana University Bloomington, Ill; and Jean Pigozzi Collection in Geneva. A passionate political advocate, Davis is survived by his loving wife of 35 years, Denise Davis, brother Jon, sister Pam, and many friends in the arts community.

F.X. Feeney (1953–2020)

F.X. Feeney (Film/Video BFA 76), the renowned film critic, historian, screenwriter, author, filmmaker, and CalArts alumnus, passed away on Feb. 5, 2020, leaving behind a rich legacy of work in both writing and in film. He was 66. While at CalArts, Feeney studied under the filmmaker and founding Film Dean Alexander “Sandy” MacKendrick. To coincide with MacKendrick’s centennial in 2013, and an accompanying panel discussion at REDCAT, Feeney penned a remembrance piece in Written By—the magazine of the Writers Guild of America. While he wrote specifically about MacKendrick’s Writer-Director’s Workshop, wherein the class watched On the Waterfront as many as two to three times per week, Feeney’s opening captures the essence of CalArts in the ’70s: Imagine a well-lit, double-size classroom in the bowels of a still fairly new school building. The year is 1974. The place: the California Institute of the Arts, then a boxy labyrinth on a bare lunar hillside. “The sub-level,” a maze of hallways where daylight never reaches, is home at all hours to insomniac film students. the POOL


In Memoriam

Feeney’s writing was always thoughtful and memorable, much like the man himself.

Carla Herrera-Prats (1973–2019)

After graduating with a BFA from CalArts’ School of Film/Video in 1976, Feeney worked in animation at Hanna-Barbera Studios. By 1980, he joined the fledgling alternative paper in Los Angeles—the LA Weekly—as its film critic and associate editor. He remained affiliated with the paper for more than 30 years.

He authored several screenplays (Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound, The Big Brass Ring) and books, most notably Orson Welles: Power, Heart and Soul (The Critical Press), published in 2015. At the time of his passing, Feeney was working on directing a documentary, Harris Kubrick: Genius Takes Two, about the 10-year partnership between producer James B. Harris and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Together, they collaborated on films including The Killing (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Lolita (1962), and Dr. Strangelove (1964). Many friends and colleagues, including Manohla Dargis, film critic for The New York Times, took to social media to share remembrances of the “lovely, generous, gentle and kind soul.” Fellow CalArtian Paul Reubens (Theater BFA 73), a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman, posted: “We had an instant connection when we met each other in 1972, in college, at the California Institute of the Arts. We stayed friends over all the years since then. We celebrated each other’s successes...In every way, he was an amazing human. Gentle. Friendly. Astute. I will greatly miss him and always think fondly of him. You were one of the great ones, F.X., and I was always crazy about you. Rest In Peace.”


Feeney also worked with The Z Channel, one of the first pay TV channels in the US. Founded in LA in 1974, the channel earned its reputation for daring and eclectic programming, as well as for showing “director’s cuts” and letterboxed formats. From 1983 until the channel’s run ended in 1989, Feeney served as its resident critic and programming consultant.

The world lost an important critical thinker, activist, and artist when internationally respected Mexican conceptual artist and educator Carla Herrera-Prats (Art MFA 03) passed away in December 2019. Adeptly applying collaborative practice and archival research, Herrera-Prats, 46, explored complex cultural and economic transactions in Mexico, the US, and beyond. Often focusing on institutional dynamics, she worked across genres in photography, video, sculpture, and performance. Remembering Herrera-Prats in Artforum, art historian and critic Daniel Quiles asserted: “For a wealth of thought-provoking, openended connections, for the profound generosity of her life’s work, we remain humbled and grateful.” CalArts School of Art Dean Thomas Lawson said, “As an artist, Carla was driven by a fierce intelligence to address some of the hard things in life, but reading about it can make the work seem a little dry. Which is odd, because she was such a vibrant presence, generous and demanding, always expecting more of herself and of us. The work will persist, and her memory will be with us always.” In 2010, Herrera-Prats launched the collaborative duo Camel Collective with Anthony Graves. WYBC described the Collective’s intention as “thinking through the contradictions of contemporary labor and the myths of cultural production.” Addressing the hidden labor of theater, the Collective’s first US-based project was the multichannel installation Something Other Than What You Are, which premiered at the gallery at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in 2016. Remembering his longtime collaborator on the Collective’s website, Graves recalled: “Our work together was the most complicated and profound game, a conversation that lasted for 15 years and will continue to play out for myself and for many whose lives she touched. May we carry Carla inside us lightly, intensely, hilariously, and with care.”


CalArts Alumni Magazine

From 2012 to 2018, Herrera-Prats was the director of the SOMA summer residency program, which introduced international artists to the Mexico City scene and provided an affordable alternative to US-based MFA programs. Institutions where she exhibited include Centro de la Imagen, Museo Dolores Olmedo, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), and Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Mexico City; and Artists Space, Art in General, and the SculptureCenter in New York. Herrera-Prats taught at Columbia University, Cooper Union, Harvard University, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as at CalArts. A fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program, she received a BFA from Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado and her MFA in photography from CalArts.

Joe Smith (1928–2019)

Donald B. Marron (1934–2019)

CalArts lost a friend and supporter when Trustee Emeritus Joe Smith passed away in December 2019.


Smith joined the CalArts Board of Trustees in 1989 and, during his long tenure on the board, served on its Executive, Academic and Campus Affairs, Finance, Investment and Audit, Campaign, and Development committees. His broad industry experience in leading music business giants, such as Elektra and Capitol Records, provided the Institute with an invaluable link to the recording industry.

Donald Marron, a founding trustee of CalArts, passed away on Dec. 6, 2019. At the time he joined the CalArts Board of Trustees in 1971, Marron was president of the investment firm Mitchell, Hutchins, Inc., a premier stock research firm on Wall Street. He was president and chief executive officer of the investment company Paine Webber Incorporated from 1980 to 2000. Marron was also a director of the New York Stock Exchange and a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In addition to his career in finance, Marron was a great appreciator of art. He began collecting contemporary art, first privately, which led him to build Paine Webber’s significant corporate collection, much of which was later donated MoMA. Marron, who served 10 years as a CalArts trustee, introduced the CalArts board to the man who would become the Institute’s second president, Robert Fitzpatrick. “I remain profoundly grateful to Don,” says Fitzpatrick. “He was very clear about the financial pressures and other problems facing Institute leadership at that time. He believed they were solvable, and he offered his help … I saw Don many times over the years at art fairs and MoMA events, and he frequently mentioned how much he enjoyed and learned from his involvement with CalArts.”

His wise counsel and good humor contributed immeasurably to CalArts’ board activity for 25 years, and the class he taught on the inner workings of the music business is still well-remembered. Smith enthusiastically embraced the CalArts Jazz CD project, and his deep understanding of its potential and importance was critical in providing students with access to Capitol Records’ recording studios in Hollywood. His generous commitment to the Jazz CD project kept it alive through successive ownerships of Capitol Records and gave more than 500 talented young musicians their first studio experience—a most significant and lasting contribution to their lives and budding careers. On the Record, Smith’s book of interviews with recording artists, as well as his donation of 200 audio interviews to the Smithsonian Institution, will be a national treasure long into the future.

the POOL



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