As I start this conversation, there's snow covering the San Gabriel Mountains surrounding Hillside Campus. In all my years living here, I've experienced a snow-capped SoCal only a handful of times. It certainly shows how our environment is shifting, and as artists and designers we must have a hand in developing solutions to how we will adapt.
With that in mind, I'd like to focus on how our campus continues to evolve in ways that offer more inclusivity. March marks National Developmental Disability Awareness Month, and a few weeks ago we lost disability rights activist Judith Heumann.
Judith fought to become the first wheelchair user to teach in New York City public schools; in 1977, she helped revive legislation setting the groundwork for the Americans with Disabilities Act; and she served in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
I'm reminded of a powerful quote: "Disability only becomes a tragedy when society fails to provide the things we need to lead our lives... It is not a tragedy to me that I'm living in a wheelchair."
As ArtCenter continues to move forward with the goal of being an accessible campus for all, disability and accessibility facilitators Dr. Kimberly Austin and Dr. Sofia Vergara, with Bridges to Inclusion, recently toured the Hillside Shops to discuss modifications in how we present the shops and equipment. I look forward to sharing those outcomes with you soon.
It takes a certain degree of vulnerability to explore our practices and processes to make them more inclusive, and I’d like to personally thank our entire Campus Planning and Facilities team for welcoming this change.
The same group also attended one of ArtCenter’s Disability and Accessibility workshops, and Cristóbal Anaya, campus planning project manager, had this to say of the experience:
"I realized that I don't know as much about disabilities as I thought I did. I was a little surprised to learn that over 25 percent of the U.S. population has some type of disability. It's startling to realize that one in four people I've met lives with some kind of disability, and that oftentimes it's invisible. It just goes to show that we can't afford to take anything for granted when we are planning spaces across our campuses."
Our disability and accessibility workshops are open to all departments, and I encourage you to schedule a session with our excellent facilitators. And now, let’s look at other sources of inspiration across campus.
It takes vulnerability to make our practices more inclusive; I’d like to thank our Campus Planning and Facilities team for welcoming this change.Aaron I. Bruce, MIBA, Ph.D., Chief Diversity Officer
I'd like to start with a look back on the excellent events celebrating Black History Month. From the Power of Photography Panel, which took a visual journey into the cultural impact of images, to the conversation with former Nike CMO Greg Hoffman, which tracked his experience crafting products with purpose, I remain in awe of this impressive mix of programming at the College.
Since March marks Women’s History Month, I'm pleased to share that NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) has offered us 30 free passes to the Female Cinema presentation on March 18, celebrating up-and-coming female talent in front of and behind the camera. The collection of films explore themes of motherhood, fertility, birth, reproductive choice from a range of perspectives. RSVP here if you’d like to attend.
Many of you are well acquainted with this co-curator for IdentificarX, our exhibition celebrating ArtCenter’s Latinx/e alumni community. Artist, entrepreneur and educator Ramone Muñoz (BFA 77 Advertising, MFA 90 Art) helped create ArtCenter's first Graphic Design graduate program in 1990, and continues to educate artists and designers as an adjunct professor. As an artist, Ramone’s work explores a set of problems revolving around three primary subjects: geology, archaeology and the ephemeral nature of human civilization.
Above: Geologic Forms 2, 1970, 9 x 12 inches, watercolor.
ArtCenter offers an array of creative courses which can inspire (and overwhelm) our incoming students. The College's new First Year Immersion program invites undeclared majors to sample different disciples, allowing them to discover what major and professional path they want to pursue. As student Lillie Jackson-Jones shares in a recent Dot story, “The program has given me time to figure out what works for me, and what I'm willing to put my all into."
I'd like to personally invite you to a conversation with Ivy Ross, an ArtCenter Trustee and Google's vice president of design for hardware products. With a passion for creating objects of beauty, Ivy is a visionary leader with a rare combination of creative genius, strategic planning and business smarts. She inspires everyone she works with, and I'm sure you'll feel the same. Join us Thursday, March 29, 7:30–8:30 p.m. in the Los Angeles Times Media Center (LAT) at Hillside Campus.
I'd like to encourage everyone to RSVP for our upcoming Jewish and Islamic Ally Workshops—all students, staff and faculty are welcome (check your email for details).
March 16, 3 p.m.: Jewish Ally Workshop with Anna Talhami
A proponent of bridges and gates instead of walls, Anna has taught Torah, Hebrew, Piyyut (Jewish liturgical poetry), Jewish history through a collective liberation lens, Jewish allyship amidst antisemitism, and more to both children and adults.
March 21, 3 p.m.: Islamic Ally Workshop with Mohamed Ahmed
Mohamed will cover the Islamic faith, its traditions, and the experience of Muslim students in today’s educational setting, as well as best practices to support student success.
I'd like to close by saying we’ll soon start Ramadan, a month of fasting and worship observed by Muslims around the world. At ArtCenter, students must balance their rigorous academic schedules with religious obligations like fasting and evening prayers, which can be an intense experience. I encourage our community to learn more about the holy month, and to remember to accommodate our students—for instance, allowing students to take exams earlier in the day.
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Here’s to a month of creativity, community and brighter days ahead.
Aaron I. Bruce, MIBA, Ph.D.
Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer
ArtCenter College of Design