feature / alumni / diversity / influencing-change
February 13, 2024

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Sign up to receive the DEI newsletter in your inbox

Influencing Change: DEI at ArtCenter – February, 2024

Of the Movement

Many ArtCenter alums have built a lasting legacy through their craft. As we enter Black History Month, the work of James Van Evers, a prolific editorial and entertainment industry photographer, certainly comes to mind. 

Son of civil rights leader Medgar Wiley Evers, James has captured activists and leaders, on and off screen, from Chadwick Boseman to Barack Obama to Rosa Parks.

On taking Parks' portrait, he says, "I’ve been fortunate, honored and blessed to have been able to photograph so many amazing and talented people in my career. However, there have been very few times that I’ve had to pinch myself and say, 'breathe.'"

James is also behind the iconic image showing other leading ladies of the civil rights movement. Evers waited years for the opportunity to get Dr. Betty Shabazz (educator and widow of Malcolm X), Coretta Scott King (activist and widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), and his mother, activist/journalist Myrlie Evers-Williams, in the same room, at the same time, for a photo.

The portrait was certainly worth the wait. 

On set, James creates captivating production stills for television and film, including for the recent limited series Women of the Movement, based on the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who risked her life to find justice after her son Emmett was brutally murdered. 

James is known for capturing that rare, singular moment of a subject or scene that evokes a strong, emotional reaction from the viewer. As you can see, he's done that and more. 

With that in mind, I’ll shift our focus to our exciting and robust programming in honor of Black History Month..  

Aaron Bruce

2024 ushers in a time revolution and change, and while daunting, it can also spark creativity and innovation. 

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

Fashion Show Stopper

diptych image of Pharrell and Ron Husband.

Pharrell's highly anticipated Western-inspired Louis Vuitton collection kicked off Paris Fashion Week. Teasing the runway show was a short film of Ron Husband—ArtCenter faculty and trailblazing Walt Disney Studios animator (The Lion King, The Little Mermaid)—with his vision of the first cowboy

Past, Present, Future

ArtCenter will once again have a booth at Pasadena's Black History Parade & Festival February 17, to share information about our programs and career pathways in creative industries.

End Pointe

diptych image of Hands Performance.

Rashaad Newsome: Hands Performance, an immersive, transformative experience of radically inclusive artwork, closes March 2. (Read the extraordinary L.A. Weekly review.)

Pull Up

diptych image of flyer for Sunday Supper.

Ricky Weaver, faculty fellow and image-based artist, is hosting a weekly crit space to replenish and edify the spirit. Modeled after a tradition of familial gathering, Sunday Dinner honors the labor unique to students of color and supplements their education by integrating rest into the work. Come as you. Fridays, 2–7 p.m., 870, Room 150.

Exhibition Excellence

Inspired Legacies, an exhibition celebrating the visual Black Excellence of ArtCenter's Black and African American students, opens February 22, 5 p.m. at ArtCenter's Library, and will be on view through March 25.

Art and Sole

ArtCenter has long leveraged the popularity of sneaker culture to create a pipeline for diverse designers in the footwear field. Our latest effort Sneakers & Cream—a custom sneaker art contest hosted by faculty member and alum Roosevelt Brown—is designed to help Pasadena high schoolers get their foot in the door. Join me on February 23.


Black Alumni Reception

diptych image of Roosevelt Brown.

This year's gala, honoring the impactful achievements of ArtCenter’s Black community, will spotlight alums working in product + footwear design, celebrate the outcomes from Sneakers & Cream, and honor the many accomplishments of our very own Roosevelt Brown. Join me February 23. All are welcome to attend.

Lace Up

On February 23, our Center for Student Experience is hosting a Motown Night at Moonlight Rollerway for students with free admission and skate rentals, plus snacks at the rink. Ticket are limited. Contact to sign up.

Increasing Impact

diptych image of Elizabeth Gray Bayne.

In our commitment to expand Impact 90/300—an exhibition celebrating our Black alumni, while reflecting on the lack of diversity at ArtCenter—we’re releasing several additional profiles featuring African American alumni, by alumna and talented filmmaker Elizabeth Gray Bayne. Additionally, Elizabeth’s film Chocolate Milk, a documentary about the inequities in birth and breastfeeding outcomes for Black mothers, will be featured on February 14 at the Pan African Film Festival.

I'd like to close by wishing everyone a happy Lunar New Year, which started February 10.

2024 ushers in the Year of the Dragon, a time revolution and change, and while daunting, it can also spark creativity and innovation. I certainly see positive changes on the horizon.

Wishing you all creativity and wellness this month, and I look forward to continuing our conversation in the spring.

Aaron I. Bruce, MIBA, Ph.D.

Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer
ArtCenter College of Design