WE ARE CAL ARTS
ANDREW AHN '11 BEATRIZ CORTEZ '15 BRANDON STIRLING BAKER '10 JANICE LEE '08 BRYN COHN '09 MILEN KIROV '02, '12 KIRSTEN LEPORE '12 LAUREN HALSEY '12 OLIVIA SANDOVAL '10, '12 NICHOLAS BRUDER '09 ELLEN REID '11 JUMANA MANNA '11
We’re classicists and iconoclasts, inspired by trailblazers, but unbound by tradition. We’re analog and digital, ballpoint and stylus, typewriter and tablet. We argue and diverge, coalesce and build consensus. We’re fiercely independent and fundamentally collaborative. We’re photographers, dancers, designers, writers, animators, directors, filmmakers, composers, performers, producers, choreographers, and sometimes many-of-the-above. We know how to find the perfect fit or we create our own. We work for ourselves, in studios and on stages, and for start-ups and corporate giants. We come from around the world to Los Angeles to make art, and see the world as a canvas waiting to be filled. We transcend and, when possible, eradicate borders between the arts, between cultures, and between nations. We believe that STEM is just one branch, and that story and images, creativity and craftsmanship, are the roots of a thriving economy and a healthy society. We are citizen, heretic, healer, and sometimes even the hero. WE ARE CALARTS.
ANDREW AHN MFA 11 FILM/VIDEO
BIRTHPLACE Los Angeles, California
HOME Los Angeles, California
2017 John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award, Spa Night
OCCUPATION Filmmaker NOTABLE PROJECTS Writer and director of two short films (Andy, Dol) and one feature-length film (Spa Night); also, the director of the full first season of This Close on Sundance Now. Spa Night was picked up for distribution by Strand Releasing. INSPIRATIONS I’m part of a generation of filmmakers that spent a lot of time in their local video rental stores. As a child, my family would pick out two weekend films every Friday. It was always a fight. I don’t know if I had very good taste back then, but I was, and still am, a huge Jackie Chan fan. I took a video production class during college and fell in love with the challenge of it.
2016 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection, Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Performance for Lead Actor, Joe Seo, Spa Night 2016 Outfest Best Performance, Best Narrative Feature, Spa Night
My CalArts experience was challenging but rewarding. I had never been in such a creative place. My brain felt like it was re-wiring. At CalArts, I learned the important lesson of surrounding yourself with good people, to protect yourself by building a community of individuals who support you. While I was growing creatively, I was also growing as a human being. CalArts helped me merge these processes. When I graduated, I felt like I wasn’t just a better artist–I was also a better person.
ARTIST STATEMENT In my second year at CalArts, a classmate told me that I should write what I know. As a gay, second-generation Korean American, I began exploring the intersection of my various identities. Suddenly, I found a meaningfulness to my work. I hope that my films reveal a sense of humanity, a respect for the people I am sharing with you on the screen.
DREAM PROJECT I don’t have one dream project. Instead, my dream is to have a career full of risk and determination.
PHOTO: RAFAEL HERNANDEZ
BEATRIZ CORTEZ MFA 15 ART
BIRTHPLACE San Salvador, El Salvador
HOME Los Angeles, California
2018 Made in L.A. Biennial, Hammer Museum
OCCUPATION Visual artist; Writer (Cultural & Literary critic); Professor, California State University, Northridge (CSUN)
2018 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists
VENUES The Whitney, New York; Ballroom Marfa, Texas; Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA); and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. The Marte Museo de Arte de El Salvador; Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, Costa Rica; and BANK Gallery, Shanghai, among others. INSPIRATIONS My work is inspired by my archival research, my daily life in the city of Los Angeles, and my life experiences, particularly, migrating from San Salvador to Los Angeles and growing up in a war. In spite of this, I grew up in a house filled with music, books, and an interesting collection of Salvadoran art.
2017 California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists ACCOLADES “Cortez makes the past visible and alive by establishing connections to daily life around her,” —Raquel Gutiérrez, KCET
CalArts was the perfect art 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.
ARTIST STATEMENT My work explores simultaneity, life in different temporalities and different versions of modernity, particularly in relation to memory and loss in the aftermath of war and the experience of migration, and in relation to imagining possible futures. My work brings together the histories related to my two homes, San Salvador and Los Angeles, but in broad, open and conceptual ways that look towards the future and not towards the past, particularly not towards my own past.
New York Times Art Critic Roberta Smith described Cortez’s work Cairn, composed of volcanic rock, as “a fragile balancing act that speaks volumes about the precariousness of life today.” Los Angeles based curator Joanna Szupinska-Myers states in the New York Times that Cortez’s work depicts “the vulnerability and bravery of the immigrant.”
FAVORITE PROJECT Memory Insertion Capsule, a space capsule imagined in the L.A. vernacular style of architecture and in response to a history of racism, eugenics, genetic experimentation, and gender inequality.
PHOTO: RAFAEL HERNANDEZ
BRANDON STIRLING BAKER BFA 10 THEATER
BIRTHPLACE Los Angeles, California HOME New York, New York OCCUPATION Lighting Designer for ballet, opera, and theater COMPANIES AND VENUES New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Berlin Staatsballet; Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Guggenheim Bilbao.
ARTIST STATEMENT I like to think of lighting as a visual art form that happens to use technical elements. In many ways, you can say the same thing about a cinematographer. We both use highly technical equipment to create visual composition and help tell a story. For me, ballet is one of the purest art forms in which a lighting designer can work. The work I create is never about me. Itâ€™s always about the big picture of what we are creating together as a group of artists. In all of the work I do, I give myself one personal goal. Every design choice has to count, everything I put on the stage has to have real meaning. It does not matter if the work is abstract or narrative, it only needs to have a reason to exist. This is how I think of all the work I create, and it gives me the inspiration to continue creating important work, or at the very least, a creative exploration that is worth pursuing.
As an artist trying to find my own voice, CalArts was a major beacon of hope for me. It was the perfect place for an artist to experiment and discover true collaboration. What makes it unique is the ability to take classes in other non-related disciplines. For me it was the ideal location for an artist to get a sample of many diverse art forms, literally under one roof. Many artists I admire in design and film also attended this school, including Tim Burton, Kevin Adams, and Andrew Stanton. It was the only college that felt like a creative home.
INSPIRATIONS My first major introduction to lighting design for dance was collaborating on many experimental dance works for CalArts students. I was never seen as only a technician, but rather, as another creative voice making contributions to a new work. I worked closely with both choreographers and composers to develop the visual vocabulary. My passion for ballet developed when I moved to New York as an intern for the New York City Ballet. I spent eight months watching and studying the work of Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. During my time at the Ballet I developed new and exciting relationships with many emerging choreographers that have now become some of the most important voices in the world of dance today. Seven years later, I am designing world premieres internationally for these choreographers and creating new work on the same stages where I discovered this art form. Together we
PHOTO: ETHAN HILL
are changing the way that international audiences are seeing this form. In many ways, it feels like a new exploration of this classic art form.
DREAM PROJECT Lighting for Paris Opera Ballet AWARDS 2016 Lotos Foundation Prize for Arts and Sciences
JANICE LEE MFA 08 CRITICAL STUDIES
BIRTHPLACE San Francisco, California HOME Portland, Oregon
DREAM PROJECT Words that matter to me in all my projects: apocalypse / redemption / intimacy / openness / change
OCCUPATION Writer, Editor, Artist, Professor
NOTABLE PROJECTS Experimental fiction (Kerotakis, Daughter, Damnation), Lyrical essay (Reconsolidation, The Sky Isn’t Blue), Co-Publisher (Civil Coping Mechanisms), Founder/Executive Editor (Entropy), Co-editor (Sublevel), Contributing Editor (Fanzine), Assistant Professor of Fiction (Portland State University)
“Janice Lee is a genius.”—Eileen Myles, author of Inferno (a poet’s novel).
INSPIRATIONS My mother cultivated a love for literature in me. I took weekly trips to the library and read voraciously. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the first book that made me cry. I read it in fourth grade. I read e.e. cummings and Toni Morrison in high school and saw the possibilities of language and narrative. I ended up switching from the career I was supposed to have (doctor) to pursue writing.
“Janice Lee’s second novel [Daughter] is first and foremost an object of no small beauty.” —Quarterly West
What drew me to CalArts was the emphasis on the creative and critical theory aspects of writing—and the fact that the program was housed at an art school appealed to the experimental and interdisciplinary side of me. I wanted to be able to think about art and design and film and theory alongside my writing.
ARTIST STATEMENT I think of myself first and foremost as a writer, and by that I mean that I’m interested in writing as a way to ask questions along with the reader. I believe in the failure of language: that is, writing exists because language fails. I think of writing as a way to articulate the “unarticulatable.” I’m writing as a human for other humans, but especially think about the different subject positions we are indoctrinated into. I started teaching a couple of years after I graduated. In my teaching, I think of my job as helping students see things differently, to constantly be viewing the world around them from different angles, to ask questions and be curious.
PHOTO: JOHN CLARK
BRYN COHN BFA 09 THE SHARON DISNEY LUND SCHOOL OF DANCE AT CALARTS
BIRTHPLACE New York, New York HOME Los Angeles, California; Bicoastal as of January 2018 OCCUPATION Choreographer, Dance Educator, Movement Consultant and Founder/Artistic Director of Bryn Cohn + Artists VENUES Bryant Park; Ailey Citigroup Theater; Jazz at Lincoln Center; Danspace Project, St. Markâ€™s Church INSPIRATIONS Despite an abundance of classical technique beneath me, a consistent cornerstone of my choreographic practice is to ground in intimacyâ€” to generate visions and languages that enable us to recognize the person within the performer. When I was 20 years old, I saw a performance by the Hofesh Shechter Dance Company. I was mesmerized by the rigorous physicality and emotional density, but furthermore, the avid persistence to communicate and comment on tangible reality. That was the moment I knew that this art form was something I would, and could, commit to forever.
commitment to those interests and in contributing to a long-lasting lineage. My chief priority, and source of primary fulfillment, emanates from my desire to create, compose and construct performative worlds that resonate with a global community. When I began to teach, I noticed how these roles as educator and choreographer fuel one another. I aspire to provide my students with the skillset, insight and information that not only have the potential to breed dance practitioners, but individuals who are thoughtful in the way that they engage with the world around them.
CalArts is a hub that breeds artists who are not only proficient in their technical aptitude, but rather, imaginative citizens who are speaking to a holistic way of artistic expression. The type of artist that graduates from CalArts is a pioneer, a radical and an outlier as opposed to solely a doer.
ARTIST STATEMENT I never wanted to perform and I did so sparingly. In many ways, I go against the norm of what it means to be a professional dance artist. I am a choreographer, an educator, a scholar and a storyteller. The body of work I have crafted has become a platform to speak to truths of love, loss and community. My approach to creative process anchors in ferocious connection and collaboration to locate experiences that remind us and re-imagine what it is to be human.
DREAM PROJECT I hope to continue to challenge myself, my dancers, my students and my audiences to be leaders of justice through the art we engage in and consume. I would like to continue to bring dance into the international sphere through collaboration and immersive experience. AWARDS 2018 Princess Grace Award Nominee for Choreography 2018 Repertory Dance Theatre Regalia Choreography Competition Winner
2018 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee High Honors Society 2017 Utah Dance Film Festival Finalist 2017 Kaatsbaan International Dance Center Residency Recipient
I was 24 years old when I formed Bryn Cohn + Artists. I knew what I wanted and was fearless in the
PHOTO: RAFAEL HERNANDEZ
MILEN KIROV BFA 02, DMA 12 THE HERB ALPERT SCHOOL OF MUSIC AT CALARTS
BIRTHPLACE Plovdiv, Bulgaria HOME Los Angeles, California OCCUPATION Composer (contemporary, jazz, improvisation), Musician, Professor (Los Angeles City College) VENUES Stages from Vienna to Berlin to Los Angeles; television and film INSPIRATIONS Since I was born, I was immersed in music. My father is the most renowned Bulgarian Gadulka pedagogue and researcher, having created the modern methodology of teaching this ancient instrument. My mother is a traditional Bulgarian singer and Tamboura performer. I started with Western classical training around the age of three. In my early teens, I discovered blues and jazz. I have been inspired by the best in all musical styles, from composers like Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bartok and Ligeti, through jazz, pop, rock and the traditional music of Bulgaria, the Balkans and other corners of the world.
old-fashioned talent and hard work. Listening, playing, studying different genres and styles also is indispensable. Having a good ear, great sight-reading, and versatility in your playing are sought-after skills. I do not say “career” because it is not a job. Music is a calling, a lifestyle, a way of living.
At CalArts, I met amazing musicians and immediately felt a strong connection with these wonderful people and the place. They embodied the openness, kindness, creativity and adventurous spirit of CalArts and I felt that this was the place for me. I wanted to study not only the piano but also composition and world music. CalArts offered me a program that was tailored to my interests and skills. I wanted to collaborate with filmmakers, animators, dancers and writers, and all of that was possible only at CalArts.
DREAM PROJECT That project is always the next one. Creating is the force that drives me. Projects are the milestones, the markers on my path, not the end of the road. AWARDS The Congressional Award and numerous awards from American and Bulgarian piano and composition competitions.
ARTIST STATEMENT My music represents the space between contemporary classical music, traditional Bulgarian music, and jazz. My compositions and performances blur the lines between carefully crafted and notated music and free, spur-of-the-moment improvisations. Musicians should embrace technology, but always remember that it will never be a substitute for good
PHOTO: RAFAEL HERNANDEZ
KIRSTEN LEPORE MFA 12 FILM/VIDEO
BIRTHPLACE South Brunswick, New Jersey HOME Los Angeles, California OCCUPATION Freelance Director and Animator, represented by PRETTYBIRD NOTABLE PROJECTS Stop motion animation for short films such as Hi Stranger, Bottle, and Adventure Time episode Bad Jubies; television (Cartoon Network, Yo Gabba Gabba!) and commercial clients from MTV and Whole Foods to Nestlé and Google. INSPIRATIONS The Little Mermaid was huge for me. I drew Ariel incessantly to the point that I can still draw her from memory now. I was only four when the movie came out, but I think it kick-started my fascination with animation, which only grew deeper as I watched things like Gumby, Sesame Street (which featured animation of all types), and played tons of animated computer games.
DREAM PROJECT Right now I’d be pretty excited to make a crazy music video for a band I love. AWARDS Bad Jubies received Emmy and Annie Awards; South by Southwest Special Jury Award for Animation; Slamdance Grand Jury Award for Best Animated Short; 2017 Variety 10 Animators to Watch; The Late Show with Stephen Colbert parody based on Hi Stranger.
I soon realized from watching student work and learning about its legacy that CalArts was the premier school in the U.S. for studying animation. I applied to the MFA program while I was finishing up my senior year and got rejected. I applied two years later after I had more animation work experience and a richer portfolio, and finally got accepted. I had a wonderful experience and was able to fill in all the technical gaps I had, as well as finding an invaluable mentor, and a network of peers and colleagues.
ARTIST STATEMENT Animation is painstakingly slow, but I am definitely drawn to things that require obsessive attention to detail and a lot of time. I think I gravitate towards stop-motion because I love building things with my hands, and also feel that there’s still a lot of unexplored territory in stop-motion. I love experimenting with real physical objects—messing with their physics, placing objects in unusual situations or settings, with the ultimate goal of pioneering some sort of new ground in the medium. That excites me above all else. PHOTO: RAFAEL HERNANDEZ
LAUREN HALSEY BFA 12 ART
BIRTHPLACE Los Angeles, California HOME Los Angeles, California OCCUPATION Architecturally-inspired visual artist who creates painted and sculpted Technicolor remixes of downtown South-Central L.A. that sample neighborhood aesthetics in the built environment. VENUES MOMA, New York; HOME Greater Manchester Art Centre, UK; The Studio Museum, Harlem; Yale University INSPIRATONS For my 12th grade art show I submitted a life-size boom box, dj set-up and speaker equipment built of recycled cardboard, household knick-knacks and other found objects. I loved the process of intuitively building at human scale. I realized I was interested in exploring the discourse of architecture through art rather than the service of architecture for clients.
CalArts was an amazing experience. I was able to take courses in hip-hop history, holography, black history, art history, music, printmaking, etc. I was able to engage with students in other fields and it felt natural. I enjoyed working, having studio visits and independent studies with professors both in and outside of the Art School. I was deeply inspired by students and professors who were passionate about their respective practices, extremely smart, generous and caring.
ARTIST STATEMENT Some examples of oppressive architecture and architectural materials: schools that architecturally resemble prisons, protective bars and gates on homes, excessive amounts of bulletproof glass in stores, gas stations, mini-markets, food spots. I’m interested in creating spatial interventions in my neighborhood that affirm the public through architecture and building. I want to create black architectural wonders in my neighborhood, in which people see themselves.
PHOTO: RAFAEL HERNANDEZ
FAVORITE PROJECT Currently, I’m working on my first public project, The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project, a hybrid public art installation and a community market created in collaboration with residents of the district. The autonomous hieroglyphic structures invite the public to author their own narratives through carved engravings, while programming will generate tangible economic benefits. I author and construct ephemeral environments to counter oppressive architecture and spatial metaphors that reinforce familiar narratives and stereotypes of inferiority. ACCOLADES “When I first saw Lauren Halsey’s work-in-progress during her residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, I was stupefied. The installation was genuinely a new experience, challenging my notion of visual and spatial aesthetics. I knew this was an artist I had to know more about.”—Todd Gray, Artillery magazine “Lauren is an amazing, promising artist”—Cortney Stell, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Black Cube Nomadic Art Museum in Westword magazine
OLIVIA SANDOVAL BFA 10, MFA 12 THEATER
BIRTHPLACE Los Angeles, California HOME Los Angeles, California OCCUPATION Actor, Musician (upright bass in Whiskey Sunday), Playwright PERFORMANCES “Winnie Lopez” on Fargo (FX); “Arianna Devalos” on Medium (NBC/CBS) starring her father, veteran television and film actor Miguel Sandoval INSPIRATIONS When I announced that I wanted to be an actor as a small, precocious child, I clearly remember the ‘Oh boy’ look that came across my father’s face. He cautioned me to take the time to make sure there were no doubts, because the path was steep, unforgiving and so often, unrewarding. I took his words seriously and spent a decade trying to find anything comparable, wishing an alternative career would reveal itself and save me the trouble. It didn’t, and we both realized this was something I had to do, like breathing. [The movie] Fargo reinforced my burning desire to act in a way that few other films have. It hypnotizes you in the most beautiful of ways. To this day, I have a hard time not crying when I hear the theme music.
I was attracted to this utopia where all arts exist under one roof—where I could pursue my métier in a free and diverse environment... Nothing compares to walking the halls and being enveloped by the tender symphony of many minds creating fresh art all around you. I can’t say how many moments I had rushing to class, wrapped up in my ego, when the sound of a trumpet, the squeak of dancers’ feet on linoleum, would cut through that ego and make me stop and listen. I learned to listen at CalArts and when I left, that is what I missed the most.
ARTIST STATEMENT I spent so many years wondering what ‘they’ thought. ‘Am I doing it right?’ ‘Do I look right?’ ‘Am I enough?’ You believe you’re doing due diligence and leaving no stone unturned,
PHOTO: RAFAEL HERNANDEZ
but it actually takes you further away from the role and your job. If you’re in that room and you’re thinking ‘I wonder if they like me,’ you are existing as that character only superficially. I spent years after graduating not booking diddly squat and during that whole despondent time, I was beating myself up for it. And you know what happened when I got off my own back and rediscovered the joy of it all? I booked Fargo. Be yourself. Snooze— boring I know—but it is so, so true. DREAM PROJECT As an actor, I’m in love and obsessed with the human condition. I’m relentlessly curious, drawn to people’s stories. All I want is to continue to be part of the positive change of portraying real human beings on camera. Oh—and I really, really, really want to do a corset drama sometime. ACCOLADE
“As plucky St. Cloud traffic cop Winnie Lopez, Sandoval formed an instantly winning duo with [Carrie] Coon... she’s crafted one of those Fargo characters you hope ends up skirting the inevitable carnage and living to be Minnesota Nice another day… If Sandoval is familiar, chances are good you spotted her appearances on Medium or possibly Bad Judge... This is her most substantive grown-up work, and it seems likely to spawn only greater visibility.”—The Hollywood Reporter
NICHOLAS BRUDER BFA 09 THE SHARON DISNEY LUND SCHOOL OF DANCE AT CALARTS
BIRTHPLACE Minot, North Dakota HOME Frankfurt, Germany OCCUPATION Actor, Dancer, Teacher PROJECTS Smash (NBC); Gossip Girl (CW); Shakespeare Uncovered (BBC/ PBS); Dance Theater Workshop, La Mama; PS 122, NYC; Peridance Capezio Center; PACT Zollverein; Le Cenquatre-Paris; Sleep No More, Punchdrunk
ARTIST STATEMENT I like to think that every job I’ve done has led to the next—that it’s also my choice and not just an opportunity. So, working in both the dance and acting worlds, sometimes it seems that they cannot live together. I make it a point to bridge them. Theater can be a loooong process. But what’s great is that after you open, the show is locked and you do it over and over again. Anything you can think of will go wrong. That’s when it gets fun. With film and television, I love the chaos a set can have. As an actor, it’s great to allow the camera to pick up subtleties of the face. Your thought process is seen. Sometimes I think a professional performer, whether actor or dancer, is actually a really good problem solver. It’s impossible to do the same exact show every time. But the audience doesn’t need to know that. There isn’t one path in this field. But something that does matter and last is honesty and integrity.
I grew up at CalArts. It’s a safe place to be, artistically. Faculty were exactly who I wanted and needed. But, it was putting myself in the classes that were outside of the Dance School that influenced the work I did within it. I’m so glad I didn’t stay in a dance “bubble.” Well, I don’t know who could do that at CalArts. I found that I like to collaborate by pooling everyone’s skills and interests together, and using each other to make something bigger than what we could do by ourselves. The faculty and programs really open up when you start writing your own material, and questioning or dissecting the pieces that have already been written. You must find an opinion or perspective. And you will, only for those opinions to be changed. You will think and act. If you bring “you”, even if you don’t know who “you” are, you’ll get a hell of a lot out of that place.
INSPIRATIONS I started taking dance because I was totally on a track to musical theater. Bob Fosse’s work was a huge influence. I saw character and emotion. I’d even call it dangerous because I didn’t view the choreography or dancers as vague or ambiguous. They were people doing something extraordinary. I began to explore dance in other forms. I was finding myself more interested in creating a structure that allows interpretation to emerge from the audience or performer. That’s when I went back into theater. A role is a part that one plays to serve a bigger machine.
DREAM PROJECT My penultimate project could be a life in which I never stop working. AWARDS 2016 Falstaff Award, Best Principal Actor, Macbeth 2016 Bessie Award nominee
PHOTO: ETHAN HILL
ELLEN REID MFA 11 THE HERB ALPERT SCHOOL OF MUSIC AT CALARTS
BIRTHPLACE Oak Ridge, Tennessee HOME Los Angeles, California; New York, New York OCCUPATION Composer and Sound Artist for opera, chamber music, pop, film and theater scores, and immersive interactive media VENUES Academy of Fine Arts, Munich; United Nations, Bangkok; New York Theater Workshop, NYU; Abu Dhabi Institute, Abu Dhabi; Getty Museum, Los Angeles INSPIRATIONS I grew up in a town known for its involvement in The Manhattan Project. While I was surrounded by groundbreaking scientists and engineers, access to innovative arts and artists was limited. I didn’t even know that one could be a composer because I didn’t know anyone who composed music.
A FAVORITE PROJECT I have a commission from the Los Angeles Master Chorale that will premiere in Walt Disney Concert Hall. Our piece, Dreams of the New World is about the fragility of the American Dream. It involved traveling to different cities across the U.S. and conducting interviews with the librettist Sarah LaBrie, woven into a libretto. As far as a future dream project, there are so many. A friend and I share the motto: “Do Everything All the Time.”
I had an uncharacterizable musical education before grad school. It involved influences from Tennessee, church music, Motown, piano repertoire, Thai classical, folk drumming, and opera, New York minimalism, jazz, Noise, and Western Canonical works. When I looked at other schools, they seemed limited, as though I couldn’t bring all of my musical interests to the table. At CalArts, there was space, respect and support to explore my wide variety of interests and a promise of collaboration between the schools. When I was at CalArts, I would sit in the audience of the Master Chorale and be moved to tears. It is surreal to be writing for it now.
I went to college as an undergrad in New York City where I was exposed to a wide and wild variety of music, artists and thinkers. 9/11 was my first weekend in New York from Tennessee. I didn’t have a support network to talk about my disillusionment, fear and sadness. I found that I could express through music feelings for which I had no words. This discovery and the encouragement of great mentors led me to a serious pursuit of composition.
PHOTO: ETHAN HILL
ARTIST STATEMENT I aim to have my music be challenging yet relatable. I enjoy using the shape of a piece or a story to explore techniques and limits of sound. I enjoy pushing things into chaos and seeing what is left.
ACCOLADES Her work “brims with canny invention” —LA Weekly “ineffably moving” —Los Angeles Times “radiant” —The New Yorker
JUMANA MANNA MA 11 CRITICAL STUDIES
BIRTHPLACE Trenton, New Jersey HOME Berlin, Germany OCCUPATION Filmmaker, Sculptor, Writer VENUES Museum of Modern Arts, Warsaw; Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, WinstonSalem, North Carolina; International Film Festival Rotterdam; Sculpture Center, New York INSPIRATIONS I feel fortunate and privileged that I make a living as a visual artist. I wasn’t raised in a home where art was considered a profession to be pursued, and it was not until quite late that I thought it possible to really live by making art. I assumed I would be an architect, a designer, or an animator—“real” jobs. At 17, I installed my final year art exhibition at school, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I had ever had. It was around then that I decided to apply to art school, and rather quickly realized that I would continue making art. After finishing my BFA it was becoming clearer to me that sculpture and video/film were my mediums. The film/ video works are where my research can be condensed into a thesis of some sort, a narrative. It fulfills my desire to work with others, to enter others’ lives that I wouldn’t otherwise. They combine documentary and fiction, and often deal with socio-political questions through personal stories, and relationships.
The sculptures and installations, on the other hand, are more places of withdrawal from traditional forms of representation; a delving into material explorations and more abstract gestures. The two are interfaces for one another, opening up, and at times, confronting one another. ARTIST STATEMENT Take your time to make sure you really want to be making art. If the feeling of necessity and desire to create continues, keep on producing work, and dare to put it out even if you think it’s not “there” yet. Trust in yourself and in the fact that people will see what you’re trying to do. Find the two or three images that you consider uniquely yours, and focus on them. Be honest and instinctive with your decisions, in each step of the work.
I am Palestinian from Jerusalem, but was born in the U.S., and therefore hold an American passport. But having never lived there beyond the age of one, I was curious to try. After three years studying art in Norway, I wanted the sun and (a warmer) sea, so I looked for schools on the West Coast. It was a friend of mine who suggested I look at CalArts; she knew I was looking for a school directed towards critical thinking and theory. I found I had an eclectic and inspiring group of friends, a few from my program and the rest from the Film/Video and Art Schools. The teachers and mentors I had were also very generous and inspiring in their different ways.
PHOTO: ALBRECHT FUCHS
AWARDS 2017 ars viva Prize for Visual Arts 2015 Norwegian Sandefjord Art Award 2012 A.M. Qattan Foundation’s Young Palestinian Artist ACCOLADES
“Jumana Manna’s new film, A magical substance flows into me, is worth watching from beginning to end… Manna creates a beautifully poignant film that explores how musical customs create identity and overcome cultural suppression. Here, the power of music truly transcends politics.”—Time Out London