Research, Values

CCA / Studio Masters

[A foreword: CCA: OK.
For some, the mere mention of the acronym “CCA” is met with the mental image of “trust fund babies.” I won’t deny that my alma mater projects an image and (deserved) reputation of wealth and privilege, but to assume that its students are all rich is terribly naive. Speaking for myself, I went to public school most of my life, and it sucked! That’s why I went to CCA’s high school summer program, which I paid for with an after-school job paying minimum wage ($4.75, no joke!). Plus, I will literally pay for my decision to attend CCA for years to come, so you can understand why it’s irritating to be confronted with the perception that CCA students are spoiled, rich or lazy. Besides, in my experience, more often than not, the faculty, staff and students at CCA work crazy hard and strive for excellence and experimentation. It’s a good school — that’s why I went there. And I’m also proud to be helping out with preparator work at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, which brings the work of some of the most interesting international contemporary artists to the Bay Area. What’s more, my partner is teaching in CCA’s esteemed Graphic Design program. He’s a demanding instructor with lots of energy and real-world experience to offer. So if you have critiques of CCA to share with me, please let it be based on firsthand experience, because I’ve got loads.]

I’ve been enjoying Brindalyn Webster’s Studio Masters’ website. The recent CCA MFA conducted a multi-layered examination of her classmates, and it’s presented in this beautiful site featuring b/w photos, enigmatic phrases, and original two-minute compositions. It packages precise slivers of her classmates’ diverse practices, and while the cynic in me initially reacted to the grid of portraits with a desperate sense of radical opposition (the faces are so White, indeed!), the more I poked around the site, the more I became engrossed in the content — choice phrases and tangential abstractions through instrumentals and sound. Webster’s procedure is so specific and subjective that the context — her immediate CCA MFA class — becomes just background info. What’s more interesting to me is how Webster and her collaborator Alexander Chen created entirely new, coherent works out of ideas that are in development, a nice surprise ingrained in the experimental nature of an MFA course.

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