feature / alumni / diversity / influencing-change
November 15, 2022

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Influencing Change: DEI at ArtCenter – November 2022

Giving Thanks

There have been big changes at ArtCenter since we last spoke, starting with the moving inauguration of Karen Hofmann as the sixth president of ArtCenter College of Design.

It was truly a heartfelt and historic ceremony as Karen, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, took the podium as the College's first female president. 

I couldn't imagine a more qualified individual to lead ArtCenter into this next chapter. I admire Karen's commitment to using creativity to elevate humanity, and ensuring DEI initiatives remain cornerstone of the College's strategy.

A true trailblazer, Karen is always looking for ways to break down barriers—whether economic or geographic—to allow more learners access to an ArtCenter education, bringing more voices and perspectives into our community and the worlds of art and design.

Karen has said that the greatest ideas and the highest levels of creativity require a commitment to diversity. In this video, she looks back on her personal path as she charts the one ahead for the College, making inclusion part of her presidential agenda.

With inclusivity in mind, we invite our alumni, friends, fellow artists and designers to give the gift of scholarship on Giving Tuesday (November 29). Donor scholarships are a way that ArtCenter provides additional financial resources to support students from a diversity of backgrounds as they work toward completing their degree. 

Donor scholarships are also, in the words of The Ray Charles Foundation Scholarship recipient and recent Illustration alumna Victoria Imo, “encouraging to minorities and those from different ethnic backgrounds or immigrant parents for whom art and design is not something they get to choose in life.” Victoria added that the scholarship “also reinforced my capability as an artist and pushed me to finish my degree.” 

Please, join me in extending this invisible hand by making a donation to the scholarship of your choice.  

It was a heartfelt, historic ceremony as Karen, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, took the podium as the College's first female president. 

Aaron I. Bruce, MIBA, Ph.D., Chief Diversity Officer

Spotlight: Ryan Perez, Identificar(x) Curator

As I mentioned last month, we're in the process of planning Identificar(x), an exhibition spotlighting ArtCenter's Latin-identified alumni community. I'd like to dedicate space in each newsletter to introduce the artists and curatorial team, starting with ArtCenter faculty Ryan Perez (BFA 08 Fine Art). The Filipino-Mexican-American artist, who works primarily with photography, has been exhibited at LACMA and other prestigious sites. Through his work, Perez engages the image as a window through space-time and uses its reference frame to ask questions about the self, while intersecting with societal indifference and cultural hegemony. You can view more of his work on his website and Instagram.

Centering First Peoples’ Perspectives

As November marks American Indian Heritage Month, I'd like to showcase the work of the Designmatters studio Designing for Green Justice: Centering Indigenous Land Access, Stewardship, and Return & Protect White Sage Campaign. 

It's quite a name and even more of an undertaking: Lead by Joel Garcia, founder of Meztli Projects, students connect with the land and the Tonga community, to create innovative design solutions to restore the native habitat, particularly White Sage, that center on First Peoples’ perspectives. I'll be sharing more student outcomes from this important course, and in the meantime, I invite you to read Joel's Q&A, which taught me a tremendous amount.

Marvel Magic

Jacki Li (BFA 20 Illustration), a background artist at Marvel Studios, pairs immersive paintings with powerful storytelling, bringing a timeless sense of magic to the Marvel universe. Jacki joins us Thursday, November 17 at 6 p.m. for our latest Dx3: Dialogues in Diversity & Design—please RSVP

"Hello My Name Is"

ArtCenter draws students from around the world, who bring their languages and cultures to our campus and community. With that in mind, we've developed a series of workshops dedicated to the pronunciation of names from around the world. Our second workshop will focus on Korean name pronunciation. More than that, you'll gain an understanding of Korean-language naming conventions and become cognizant of cultural differences that might impact students' learning experience at ArtCenter. I very much encourage you to attend Wednesday, November 16, 12—1 p.m.; check your inside email for the Zoom link.

Anti-Racist Workshop

I'm thrilled to welcome Alisha Mernick, a visual art and social justice educator, to campus to host an Anti-Racist, Anti-Biased Pedagogy Workshop, in collaboration with the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, cohosted by Liz Lanphear, Wendee Lee and Sam Holtzman. Alisha specializes in using art-making to engage students in a critical analysis of issues of identity, social justice, anti-racism and civic engagement. Please RSVP to this virtual session on Thursday, December 1, 11 a.m.—12:30 p.m. The workshop will also be recorded and available on Inside.

A Safe Space of Learning

Sunday, November 20 marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, the event raises awareness of the threat of violence faced trans and gender-diverse people. Here, on campus, Mario Ascencio, librarian and managing director, strives to make ArtCenter's library a hub of openness and knowledge, or as he says in a recent Dot story, “a safe space for all." In addition to offering greater access to ArtCenter's rich collection of resources, the library hosts talks with artists and creators that are in underrepresented populations and more. And here’s one more accomplishment for the books: Mario was recently named SCELC's first Latinx board chair

Veteran Filmmakers

Since we recently celebrated Veterans Day, I'd like to share some thoughts from Richard Theodule. The ArtCenter student and veteran recently attended the NewFilmmakers LA Veteran Cinema Series, on behalf of DEI. Of the experience, he shared, "I don't know a lot of veterans who are interested in filmmaking, so I was curious to see how they might portray life experiences from a veteran's perspective. Overall, it was interesting what genres and styles they used, and their wide range of interests and influences." ArtCenter students are welcome to join NFMLA with a free one-year membership by signing up here.

November also marks Mizrahi Heritage Month, when we celebrate the cultures and contributions of Mizrahi Jews, who trace their origins to the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. I'd like to share resources to help you learn more about the history and the importance of this event.

As always, I’m thankful to share this space with you. And if you have friends or colleagues who’d also appreciate our conversation, please ask them to subscribe.

Aaron I. Bruce, MIBA, Ph.D.

Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer
ArtCenter College of Design