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School of Critical Studies Class Notes

Fall 2014

Suzanne Danziger (MFA Writing Program MFA 01) is the Associate Producer for Ice Warriors, a documentary about the U.S. Sled Hockey team's quest for a gold medal at the Paralympics. The film, which won Best Documentary Feature at the Savannah Film Festival, is airing this month on many PBS stations.

Poet and Critical Studies faculty member Douglas Kearney (Writing Program MFA 04) will join experimental musician and sound artist Val Jeanty for a performance of Freedom of Shadow: A Tribute to Terry Adkins, an experimental oratorio for solo voice and electronics at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago on September 20 at 6 pm. Kearney writes about his collaboration with artist and musician Adkins in the October 2014 issue of Poetry magazine.

Summer 2014

A recent poem by Michael S. Bell (Humanities BFA 71), "Island of Memory," is set for publication in the literary journal San Francisco Peace and Hope, "bringing full circle," he writes, "the heady days when, as an undergraduate teaching fellow, I led a weekly 6 am poetry class at [former CalArts faculty] Alison Knowles' House of Dust in Burbank." Over a career spanning more than 40 years, Bell has held numerous administrative positions in the arts, including assistant director of the San Francisco Arts Commission, founder of Visual Art Access, and curator of collections and exhibitions for the Saginaw Art Museum in Michigan. 

Seagullmachine, developed at CalArts in 2010 by Nick Benacerraf (Critical Studies MA 11; Scene Design MFA 12) will be presented by The Assembly in a workshop at the undergroundzero festival in New York on July 15 and 16 at 7:30 pm at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center. Seagullmachine is described as a "mash-up of Chekhov's groundbreaking tragicomedy The Seagull and Heiner Muller's postmodern classic Hamletmachine." Benacerraf will also join the faculty of Kean University in September as a full-time Lecturer in Sceneography, teaching classes in scenic design, intro to theater and more.

PITH, a new release by Courtship Ritual, featuring Jared Olmsted (Critical Studies MFA 05) and Monica Salazar, was recently picked as Album of the Week by Stereogum.

OfficeUS, the project representing the United States at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, has named Manuel Shvartzberg (Aesthetics and Politics MA 13) and seven other architects and architecture collaboratives as official partners. According to a press release, the partners "work in conversation with visiting experts and various outpost offices around the world to reconsider the projects exhibited in the pavilion and to construct an agenda for the future production of architecture." The exhibition, curated by Rem Koolhaas, runs through November 23.

Spring 2014

The Vicious Ladies, a short story by Carribean Fragoza (Writing Program MFA 06), appears in the spring issue of Bomb magazine.

Damnation by Janice Lee (Writing Program MFA 08), an ekphrasis, poetic confession, and obsessive response to the films of Bela Tarr and his use of the long take in cinema, has been released by Penny-Ante Editions. It includes an introduction by faculty member Jon Wagner.

Winter 2013/14

Ama Birch (Writing Program MFA 09) is in Chicago on a Digital Organizing Fellowship with the issue advocacy group Organizing for Action.

The performance group, My Barbarian, featuring Malik Gaines (Writing Program MFA 99) and Theater faculty Jade Gordon, is included in the Whitney Biennial, opening on March 7 and continuing through May 25.

Nicholas Katzban (Critical Studies/Writing MFA 11) was named a finalist in the 2013 Les Figues Press NOS (not otherwise specified) Book Contest. His manuscript of Horse Poems, which served as his CalArts thesis, was one of 13 finalists selected from more than 400 submissions.

Imaginery Friend Press has released black hands of a morning calm by Ayshia Stephenson (Writing MFA 09), her first collection of poetry and the winner of the Imaginery Friend Press's inaugural full length poetry contest.

Sille Storihle (Aesthetics & Politics MA 11) has curated the exhibition Marie Hoeg Meets Klara Liden at ONE Archive in Los Angeles, with an opening on February 21 from 6-9:30 pm. It runs through June 28. She has also edited the book Voluspa, which she will launch at the opening.

Fall 2013

Death Centos, by Diana Arterian (Writing MFA 11), has been published by Ugly Duckling Presse. The 20-page chapbook is a collection of collage poems using the last words of people who have died through either natural causes or otherwise. Arterian will be on the road in December, reading excerpts from the book.

Nick Benacerraf (Aesthetics and Politics MA 2011) is working with Brooklyn Commune, an initiative created by Culturebot and Invisible Dog, creating a manifesto/document that reimagines the economics of the performing arts scene. It will be presented in New York in January during the global performing arts conference and marketplace known as APAP. He and Dorit Avganim (Acting BFA 05) have also created a new initiative called the Performing Artist Census 2013, which was launched recently by Brooklyn Commune.

Malik Gaines (Writing Program MFA 99) has been included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, running from March 7 through May 25 in New York. Gaines is part of the performance group My Barbarian, which also includes Theater faculty member Jade Gordon. This will be the last Whitney Biennial at the Madison Avenue location.

shhhh! it's poetry, by Jon Rutzmoser (Writing MFA 10), will soon be published by Insert Blanc Press. The book combines the best of both conceptual language poetry and the more confessional lyric. The editor and publisher of Insert Blanc is Matthew Timmons (Critical Studies MFA 05). Rutzmoser recently teamed up with Amanda Montei (Critical Studies/Writing MFA 11) to launch their own press, Bon Aire Projects, with the release of their collaborative work, Dinner Poems.

Summer 2013

A production of That Poor Dream, a play inspired by Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, opens June 26 at the New Ohio Theatre in New York with set design created by Nick Benacerraf (Aesthetics and Politics MA 11). The play runs through June 29 and includes contributions from several CalArtians: Marisa Blankier (Theater BFA 12)—stage manager; Justine de Penning (Acting BFA 10)—producer; Lizzie Eggert (Technical Direction MFA 12)—technical director; Shelly Rodriguez (Lighting Design MFA 12)—lighting; and Ray Sun (Scene Design MFA 12)—video design. 

How to Make Movies at Home, a new film about a band of DIY filmmakers that's co-produced by Lisa Dowda (Writing MFA 04) and her Screamers Lake Media is being screened at New York's Visionfest film festival on June 27 at 8 pm at the Tribeca Cinemas. The film was named Best Feature at Paterson Falls Film Festival in 2013 and will tour this fall with the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. 

Tenders of the Feet, a new play by Ciji Guerin (Critical Studies MFA 04) with music by Hal Logan, will receive a concert reading at Bump in the Road Theatre in Portland on Saturday June 29 at 2 pm. The free performance of the play, co-directed by Guerin and featuring dialogue that is have spoken and half sung, will conclude with an informal question and answer session with the playwright, directors, dramaturge and cast.

Steve Lowenthal's (Critical Studies/Writing MFA 11) MFA thesis, a biography of musician John Fahey, will be published next year by Chicago Review Press. Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey-American Guitarist was blurbed recently in WIRED magazine.

Jonathan Mann's (Critical Studies MFA 06) rock opera, The Mario Opera, about the Super Mario Bros. video game was given a first-act reading at the New York venue Joe's Pub on August 17. A story on Mann and the opera, which he wrote while at CalArts, appeared in Wired magazine's online site.

Amanda Montei's (Critical Studies/Writing MFA 2011) MFA thesis, a memoir, has been accepted for publication by Jaded Ibis press.

Imaginary Friend Press has announced that Ayshia Stephenson (Writing Program MFA 09) has won its first ever full-length book contest for black hands of a morning calm. She also won the Grace Notes Books 2011 Silver Grace Note runner-up prize in the Outstanding Book-Length or Collected Poetry category in its Discovering the Undiscovered Competition.

Dante Zuniga-West's (Critical Studies MFA Writing Program MFA 09) MFA thesis, a novel, will be published next spring by Black Coffee press under the title Young Man Rumble.

Spring 2013

Since January 1, 2009, Jonathan Mann (MFA 06) has made his living writing a song every day, and he is now up to more than 1,550. The prolific Brooklyn-based songwriter crafts a song each day with an accompanying video that he posts to his YouTube channel, where you can hear his life story and learn about his batting average for crafting gems. Some of his songs have gone viral over the past four years, getting coverage in TimeThe Huffington Post, and CNN. His 77th song about Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman caught the attention of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who invited Mann to perform the song live on The Rachel Maddow Show in April 2009.

The Dallas art collective, In Cooperation with Muscle Nation,
co-founded by Robin Myrick (Critical Studies MFA 08), opened its latest show in April at the Davis Foundry Gallery in Oak Cliff, Texas. The show runs through May 25. Muscle Nation was listed in the Dallas Observer's "Best of 2012" issue in the category of Best Art Trend.

Having continued her interests in philosophical aesthetics, world music, design, theater, and dance, while pursuing a career in public health and environmental policy, Zabelle Zakarian (Humanities BFA 73) is departing for Kenya in June to train and serve as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2013 to 2015. As a health care volunteer, Zakarian will live and work in a rural community to support efforts to prevent HIV, malaria and parasitic diseases; promote hygiene and safe water supplies; and educate young people on how to protect their health and lead healthy lives. Her scholarly love of books has also enabled her to work as an editor specializing in personal memoirs, including Medic: The Mission of an American Military Doctor in Occupied Japan and Wartorn Korea by Crawford F. Sams, and Government for the People: Reflections of a White House Counsel to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson by Lee C. White. Zakarian holds an MPH from the University of Illinois and an ScD from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Winter 2012/13

Kathie Foley's (Writing MFA 99) artwork will be included in the multidisciplinary arts project Project Bronzeville, opening in June 2013. The project, which has received funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs, the California Arts Council and the LA County Arts Commission, draws its name from the period in Los Angeles' history when African Americans lived in the section of the city known as Little Tokyo, following the internment of Japanese citizens. 

Caribbean Fragoza (Writing MFA 06) is co-director of South El Monte Arts Posse (SEMAP), a nonprofit "collective of artists, writers, urban planners, educators, scholars, farmers, ecologists, swap meet vendors, and youth dedicated to engaging with the South El Monte and El Monte community through the arts by rethinking our use of space and transforming how we inhabit it." The organization was recently featured by KCET.

"The Labor of Stagger Lee: Boar," a poem by faculty member Douglas Kearney (Writing MFA 04) appears in the March issue of Poetry Magazine. The on-line version of the journal also features a podcast with a reading of the poem.

Nate Schulman (Aesthetics and Politics MA 09) was awarded the 2012/13 American Friends of the Victoria and Albert Museum scholarship, which supports an American student's enrollment in the V&A/RCA History of Design MA program, one of the leading international postgraduate design history programs. Nate is a graphic designer from Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (BFA Graphic Design) and has a Masters in Aesthetics and Politics from Cal Arts (California Institute of the Arts). He has worked in the design studios of such influential figures as April Greiman and CalArts Art faculty Ed Fella. He also has experience working in an archive of political graphics. Since training as a graphic designer, he has been increasingly drawn to the fields of design history, criticism and writing, and is interested in the use of critical theory within the design field."

Fall 2012

Brad Spence (MFA Art & Critical Studies '96) is the feature of Press Enterprise's Artist Spotlight.

Spring 2012

Anne-Marie Kinney (MFA Critical Studies '08) will release her debut novel Radio Iris on May 15th

Grace Krilanovich (MFA Critical Studies '05), Mathew Timmons (MFA Critical Studies '05), Sam Benjamin, and Janice Lee (MFA Critical Studies '08) read from their new works on April 22nd at CalArts.

Spring 2011

Ama Birch's (MFA Critical Studies '09) film A Plumber's Tale
will be screened on June 1st at 7pm at Anthology Film Archives in New York.

Suzanne Danziger's (MFA Critical Studies '01) essay was included in Still Developing: A Story of Instant Gratification.

Hillary Darling (MFA Critical Studies '10) was appointed as CalArts' Summer Session Coordinator.

This is New York's Strongest, A Photo and Narative Exhibition About Who They Are, a collaborative effort by Lisa Dowda (MFA Critical Studies'04)and Liz Ligon was presented at 411 Lafayette NoHo.

Alanna Lin (MFA Critical Studies ’03) just completed a public safety concept album titled, Emergency Songs: Before, During, and After.

CalArts Community Arts Partnership/CAP has named Nadine Rambeau (MFA Critical Studies '07) as its first Deputy Director.

Last edited by mrogers on Nov 12, 2014
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