Social Innovation faculty member Joshua Halstead;

feature / alumni / diversity / influencing-change
February 17, 2023

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Influencing Change: DEI at ArtCenter – February 2023

Where the Art Is

With our expansive halls and windows-turned-gallery walls, ArtCenter was built to house a constant influx of creativity and community. It's a space our alums are happy to come back to.

President Karen Hofmann walked these halls as a student before stepping into faculty and other leadership roles. And I'm pleased to say we have several prestigious alums coming to campus for Black History Month, including animator/artist Mark Jason Page, photographer/director Cedric Terrell and filmmaker Elizabeth Gray Bayne (more on this below).

It seems no matter how far you go—and our students' creative endeavors take them quite far—ArtCenter remains home. 

With that in mind, I'm thrilled to welcome Joshua Halstead as the first ever full-time faculty in Social Innovation. For years, the alum, designer and scholar has taught students to use their talents to foster connections, and in this new role, he'll further focus on the intersection of critical thinking and design praxis to support and develop Designmatters classes and curricula.

Joshua first came to campus as a 16-year-old Saturday High (now ArtCenter Extension) student. "As a disabled teen who often didn’t ‘fit’ into his made world, Saturday High was my chosen agora," he says. "Given permission to un- and remake pieces of the world—for example, ripping and reassembling magazine photos on a Xerox machine to arrive at a finished, albeit very punk, poster—meant having a sense of creativity, and, in hindsight, political agency."

In his experience, social innovation and the College have always been intertwined, but in his new position, they feel even more synchronous. “Designmatters is actively enacting and excavating ways of doing design that brings memory, making, and living into closer conversation; students often lead this conversation," he says. "Being in the classroom facilitating and witnessing this work happening is deeply engaging and honoring."

Now, let’s look at other ways we’re helping to make ArtCenter a home for all.  

Aaron Bruce

No matter how far you go—and our students' creative endeavors take them quite far—ArtCenter remains home. 

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

Celebrating Black History

diptych image featuring an illustration on the left and photo of Larry Wilmore on the right.

As I mentioned last month, we have a bevy of excellent programming celebrating Black voices, perspectives and impact on our culture, especially in the fields of art and design. I invite you to RSVP for the events below, which are open to everyone in our community, and see more here

February 17: A virtual talk with alum/visual development artist Mark Jason Page, which I'm pleased to be hosting.

February 18: ArtCenter will have a booth at Pasadena's Black History Parade & Festival with representatives from DEI, Admissions, Transportation Design and ArtCenter Extension to share information about our programs and career pathways in creative industries.

February 20: Just (Enough for The) City: Detroit and Los Angeles Beyond the Olympic Games lecture with Steven Ward, associate professor, Department of Afro-American and African Studies and the Residential College, University of Michigan. 

February 20: A special screening of the Netflix documentary Is That Black Enough for You?!?, 7 p.m., Ahmanson Auditorium. Q&A with cinematographer Justin Ervin to follow, moderated by ArtCenter faculty and alum Joel Bryant.

February 21: Power of Photography Panel—with Ricky Weaver, Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin, Cedric Terrell and moderated by Elizabeth Gray Bayne—discusses imagery, representation, and the overall influence of still images on culture past, present and future.

February 23: ArtCenter Trustee/entrepreneur Kevin Bethune in conversation with Greg Hoffman, former Nike CMO and the maker of the Jordan Brand, spanning Greg’s Nike projects and his work centered on racial equality and fighting social injustice.

February 25: First, a film about falling in love, screening and Q&A with co-directors Brandon and Jahmela Yarbrough, hosted by Ray Ealy of Steamcoders, 4–8 p.m, Ahmanson Auditorium. 

February 28: Black in the Creative Economy, co-sponsored by the office of the president, an in-person, fireside chat with local industry leaders empowering creatives — including Larry Wilmore, Emmy Award-winning producer, actor, comedian and writer.

March 1: The Illustration Department hosts an evening in celebration of Black History Month, with special guests Edgar Arceneaux, Thomas Blackshear II and Demetrius May, 7:15 p.m., Ahmanson Auditorium.

March 3: Black Alumni Reception, a gala honoring the impactful achievements of ArtCenter’s Black alumni, and Photography and Imaging Chair and alumnus Everard Williams. Plus, students from our What’s Your Story class will capture portraits of attendees. 

Spotlight: Carla Figueroa, IdentificarX Curator

I'm pleased to share IdentificarX, our exhibition celebrating ArtCenter’s Latinx/e alumni community, is coming together. This month, I'd like to spotlight curator Carla Figueroa (BFA 95 Graphics/Packaging). In addition to serving as the exhibition’s graphic designer—she just finished the visual identity design for the show, seen above—the award-winning designer/alum was an integral part of ArtCenter's in-house creative team and faculty, teaching typography for a decade. Currently, she serves as vice chair of FullCircle, ArtCenter's membership community.

Photo Op

Credit: Maria Evelyn Romero Gomez, ArtCenter student + Las Fotos alum.

Through partnerships with community arts organizations, like Las Fotos Project, ArtCenter provides community members with access to educational and career resources in art and design. This programming is vital in efforts toward diversifying our student body, whose undergraduate population is currently 9% Latinx and 1% Black. “It’s important to make sure we’re representing students from different lived experiences and underrepresented backgrounds here in our own backyard," Tim Campos, ArtCenter Admissions’ associate VP of recruitment and outreach, and the driving force behind these partnerships. I couldn't agree more, and I encourage you to read on here.

Credit: Maria Evelyn Romero Gomez, ArtCenter student + Las Fotos alum.

To a Tee

Grace Lynn Haynes, Karen Hoffman and a child seen wear Haynes

Artist/Alum Grace Lynne Haynes' acclaimed paintings and illustrations have graced the covers of the New Yorker, Vogue and exhibitions around the globe. Her latest, wearable work of art, in partnership with Old Navy and Project WE, celebrates Black History Month while raising funds for Fifteen Percent Pledge, a nonprofit working with retailers to commit more shelf space to Black owned businesses. As you can see, Karen was quick to grab one and mine is in the mail.

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Wishing you a February full of enlightenment, creativity and community.

Aaron I. Bruce, MIBA, Ph.D.

Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer
ArtCenter College of Design