photo by Amber Gregory
Kali Nikitas, Chair of the Communication Arts department at Otis College of Art and Design, introduced the session as the “highlight of the conference.”
She has invited nine friends to speak on what occurs in and outside of school. The speakers represented current faculty, students, and alumni from California College of Arts, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and Otis College.
This session was a quick, energetic lighting-round presentation from three art schools, three presenters each, five minutes each. I enjoyed seeing the different ways of presenting.
1. 1st up was CCA
CCA Senior Adjunct Professor Geoff Kaplan presented the book he designed, edited and coauthored Power to the People: the Graphic Design of the Radical Press and the Rise of the Counter Culture 1964-74, which was published earlier this year. Geoff presented with a mesmerizing animation of flipping pages to show the book’s survey of the daring, original design by radical underground papers of the 60s and 70s.
Student James Edmondson then presented his Woods of Wisdom poster series followed by his typeface Wisdom Script.
Professor John Sueda then presented an exhibition at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts that featured the Walker Art Center. John said that the discipline of graphic design suffers from a lack of diversity in exhibition format. He curated the exhibition which, according to Walker Art Center, “investigates graphic design’s evolving relationship with the practice of exhibition making as it intersects with the visual arts and the work of both artists and curators.”
2. Next up was MCAD
MCAD professor Jan Jancourt spoke on “concord” (shared visual characteristics) instead of the conference theme “contrast.” He presented a visual stack of images of his students’ project in collaboration with MCAD grad and his past student Eric Rieger aka HOTTEA who was known for his beautiful typographic yarn installations on chain-link fences. The project was for his introduction to typography class which had students from different disciplines such as film, not just graphic design. The yarn graffiti project allowed students to learn about letter form, typographic design and systems, and they would also learn about communication—what message to say to the neighborhood with which they were not familiar.
Mike and Elizabeth presented from AgencyCollective.com. They form a great team as Elizabeth finishes nothing and Mike finishes everything. They used typography to show process with every slide having a numerical statistic and a short description – ie 1,700 all-nighters.
Cameron Ewing presented, “how design school saved my life.” He contrasted his personal vs professional practice and the intersection. Cameron melded his passion for beekeeping with his profession. He designed the book So You Want to Be a Beekeeper in 5 Easy Steps and shared the link Beesomebody.wordpress.com.
3. Last was Otis
Ana Llorente (Practitioner and Teacher), Ivana Arellanes (a student at Otis in her last year), and Hazel Mandujano (alumni) presented as a team of three generations of Latino women from Mexico and Cuba, showing how Otis connects students with educators. They presented who they are, where they’re from, an unlikely fact, what it means to have a practice, decision making process, and presented a project. They had a unified message and each dressed in support of a cause.
Ivana is in her senior year at Otis. Her family is from Mexico, and she grew up as a 90s baby in Hollywood. Her work shows her journey of establishing her identity. We received a poster by her upon entering the screening room from her sound art project that aims to push the boundaries of graphic design and music.
Hazel Mandujano is a LA native that grew up in a city once known as the gang capital of USA. It has one high school and one middle school where most people will cross paths. People living in the city had little access to anything, esp. art, and art was a boys club dominated by male graffiti artists. Her peers didn’t go to college because they didn’t think they’d get there. This has led to her mission of activism. Hazel has started a free education program for women by women, strong female mentors.
Ana is a designer, design professor, unlicensed architect, exhibition curator, and motorcycle enthusiast. She is from Venezuela, Cuba and California, which are intertwined in her work. Ana described being a professor as like having a birthday everyday with her students as her gifts. She presented her $1/minute graphic design project – a participatory, inclusive opportunity that was quickly rewarding, suggested design as an unprecious commodity, and helped build community.
They ended the presentation with the inspiring words: “On a white page you are, a poem in hiding”
Kali summed up that we have heard from nine people who were beekeepers, gangsters, motorcycle mamas, survivors, designers, change agents, risk taker, and “most of all we are dreamers.”
- By Diana Banh @dibanh