“For the longest time, I didn't want to share my story,” Illustration student Emilia Cruz told us of her painting featured on the cover of Dot's Fall 2020 issue. Cruz created Am I Too Dark? for a course assignment that challenged her to paint a moment in her life. After posting to Instagram her painting of a brown-skinned girl comparing her black hair to that of a Barbie Doll, she was contacted by Linda Yvette Chávez, co-creator of Netflix's Gentefied. Chávez commissioned Cruz to create works that are featured prominently in the America Ferrera-produced show. “It’s really powerful when people see themselves in your work,” Cruz says.
The need for society to reflect and foster a diversity of voices lies at the heart of today's urgent dialogue on systemic racism. Several stories in the Fall 2020 Dot deal directly with this topic, including the issue's "Focal Point," which presents a selection of artwork from 90/300, the College's recent exhibition that highlighted an upsetting statistic: In its 90 years of existence, ArtCenter can claim no more than 300 alumni of African descent.
In his introduction to the magazine, President Lorne M. Buchman acknolwedges that the College has faced serious challenges, in recent months, on long-standing and painful issues of racial injustice. "We recognize that the history of our campus reflects some of the problems of our country’s turbulent past, and we must face the truth about our need to create change within our own community," says Buchman before pointing readers to the recently unveiled Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, whose first draft spells out steps the College will take to transform its culture. "I strongly encourage all members of our community to read the plan and to share your thoughts and suggestions on how it can be improved," says Buchman.
Another issue affecting the entire ArtCenter community is the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the ongoing crisis, the College is again holding classes remotely for the Fall term. Adjusting to remote learning has been particularly challenging for an institution that prides itself on "making to know," a practice at the core of ArtCenter's educational model that shines when students, faculty and staff collaborate in the College's shops, labs and studios. While the pandemic has placed tremendous obstacles in ArtCenter's path, it has also inspired its community to find innovative ways to continue our important work.
One innovative model is the College's Community Hubs, which were recently launched in Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul to give ArtCenter's international students and alumni an opportunity to connect and collaborate with one another. It's also inspired a great deal of innovation closer to home. One shining example is a group of students, whom you'll read about in this issue, who faced the pandemic head-on by designing and producing thousands of much-needed face shields for health care facilities throughout Los Angeles County.
And finally, for this issue's "From the Archives," we've selected an image of a solitary, tripod-mounted camera surrounded by the beauty of nature. This quiet moment was captured during a field trip to Yosemite in 1942 by alumnus Fred Lyon. Before he worked on assignment for publications such as Time, Life and Vogue, and before his iconic images of the City by the Bay earned him the nickname “San Francisco’s Brassaï,” Lyon studied photography at the College. Part of a donation by Lyon to the Library’s Archives and Special Collections, this image is just one of more than 400 digitized photos available for online viewing that document the early years of the Photography program. You can view this image and countless more by visiting the College's Virtual Archives.
Back in the present, we hope you enjoy this issue of Dot and that you and your loved ones remain safe.