Archive for 'December 2015'

    Francisse Bondoc Wins 'Academy Idol' Season Five


    'Academy Idol' season five winner Francisse Bondoc. Photo by Bob Toy.

    On Wednesday, Dec. 16, the School of Multimedia Communications hosted the Academy Idol season five finale at 79 New Montgomery. Led by Director of the School of Multimedia Communications, Jan Yanehiro, and Associate Director Steve Kotton, the senior-level class wrapped their final episode of the reality singing competition, which streamed live all semester-long at

    But before hosts Aundria Jolivette, Frank Diaz and Lorena King got to the results, the live studio audience and those following along at home were treated to performances from the final three contestants, Francisse Bondoc, Janel Chanté and Sabrina Anderson.

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    Film Review: 'Joy'


    Jennifer Lawrence stars in 'Joy,' the story of a family across four generations, centered on the woman who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch. Photo credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox - TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

    Director David O. Russell has once again brought out the best in Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence in his latest film, Joy. Drawing from the life of Joy Mangano, Joy explores a young life filled with imagination that fades into the background following her parents’ divorce. As an adult, Joy is living a life unfulfilled as she is constantly inundated as the role of the fixer. She’s divorced, raising two kids and trying to keep everything and everyone in her family afloat.

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    Beyond Restoration

    IND’s new Automotive Restoration Associate of Arts Degree Program announced at annual Auto Show reception


    A classic 1935 Duesenberg SJ Walker-LaGrande Convertible Coupe and a 1930 Cadillac V-16 on display at 58th Annual San Francisco Chronicle International Auto Show. Photo by Susana Bates for Drew Altizer Photography.

    On the evening of Nov. 20, over 30 beautifully restored vehicles selected from the Academy of Art University Automobile Museum captured the attention of guests at the cocktail reception in honor of the 58th Annual San Francisco Chronicle International Auto Show.

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    Athletes Volunteer at SF Toy & Book Festival


    L–R) President Stephens, Safua Elisaia (volleyball), Bailey Soolsma (volleyball) and Jarred Gregory-Grimes (cross country/track & field).

    Academy of Art University student-athletes headed to City Hall on Dec. 2 to lend firefighters a hand by distributing toys to 1,200 children at the San Francisco Children’s Toy & Book Festival.

    The annual event is held by Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the San Francisco Department of Child Support Services in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library and San Francisco Firefighters’ Union Local 798. Toys for the festival are collected through donations to the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program, the oldest toy drive in the country run by off-duty firefighters and their families.

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    SF Board of Supervisors Re-Appoint Rebecca Delgado Rottman to SF Graffiti Advisory Board


    Academy of Art University Vice President of Community & Government Relations Rebecca Delgado Rottman was re-appointed by the SF Board of Supervisors to the Graffiti Advisory Board, a seat that she has held since 2007. Among her many contributions to the board so far have been to chair the Education Sub-Committee in 2008-2009. As the chair, she led the committee in the development of an anti-graffiti curriculum for the SF Unified School District to educate children about the costs and consequences of graffiti vandalism. The Education Sub-Committee researched best practices in curriculum development and partnered with the SF Arts Commission who reviewed, approved and executed the recommended curriculum entitled, “Where Art Lives.” This program, instituted in 2008, is still ongoing in the SF Unified School District. “Although it is difficult to measure outcome, one thing we know today is that youth arrests involved in graffiti vandalism has gone down,” Delgado Rottman said. 

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    Campus Safety Volunteers Put on Annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Family House


    (L–R) Campus Safety Patrol Supervisor Kevin Martin, Officer Edie Lewis of SFPD and Campus Safety volunteer James Holman. Courtesy of the Campus Safety Department.

    On Monday, Nov. 23, the San Francisco Police Officers Association, the San Francisco Police Department and Academy of Art University joined forces to put on a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday dinner for the wonderful and courageous families at UCSF Family House.

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    Homelessness in a New Light


    A portrait from Aaron Draper’s ongoing photo series, 'Underexposed.' Photo by Aaron Draper.

    It turns out that putting a beautiful light on an ugly issue resonates with millions of people around the world. Academy of Art University M.F.A. photography alumnus and current CSU Chico photography professor Aaron Draper discovered this when he created a beautiful portrait series featuring homeless Americans. His series, Underexposed, has been published more than 200 times in more than 20 languages.

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    No Butts About It!

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    A Kappa Sigma member cleans the streets of San Francisco. Courtesy of Rebecca Delgado Rottman.

    What would you rather do on a wet, cold and windy day in San Francisco? If you ask Academy of Art University fraternity brothers, Pi Upsilon chapter of Kappa Sigma, they would rather be picking up cigarette butts at Fisherman’s Wharf and Aquatic Park. Wind and rain often carry cigarette butts into waterways, where the toxic chemicals in the cigarette filters leak out, threatening the quality of the water and the creatures that live in it. The fraternity brothers picked up nearly 5,000 cigarette butts from these locations in one day. And last month, they were at Ocean Beach with a similar result. Last year, in Union Square alone, they collected nearly 10,000 cigarette butts.

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    Valentin Pepiot Named All-American, Pierre Fontanarosa 71st

    MXC - LtoR Valentin Pepiot & Pierre Fontanarosa (by Torrey Olson)

    Valentin Pepiot and Pierre Fontanarosa. Photo by Torrey Olson.

    On a cold morning at Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course in Missouri for the NCAA Division II National Championship, senior Valentin Pepiot (Multimedia Communications) became the first Academy of Art University men’s cross country NCAA All-American on Nov. 21.

    Finishing the highest of any Urban Knight in program history at seventh overall, Pepiot completed the 10k course as the second runner from the elite West Region. Fellow Frenchman graduate student Pierre Fontanarosa (Multimedia Communications) came in at 71st overall out of 246 total competitors.

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    Softball Urban Knights Interning With Oakland Raiders, NFL

    Oakland Coliseum - Oakland Raiders (photo by Andrea Gill) Coliseum. Photo by Andrea Gill.

    Continuing a tradition of artist-athletes working for professional sports organizations, Academy of Art University softball artist-athletes Haily MacDonald, Jasmine Dickenson and Andrea Gill have embraced the once in a lifetime opportunity for the National Football League and the Oakland Raiders this season. MacDonald, a graphic design major, is currently involved with the NFL Player Participations Crew for the Raiders, while Dickenson and Gill, both photography majors, have been serving as photography interns for the Raiders since August.

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    Volleyball Sends off Seniors With a Win

    VB - Seniors Rachael Smith & Isabel Emrich (by Cameron De Lay)

    Seniors Rachael Smith and Isabel Emrich. Photo by Cameron De Lay.

    Following an emotional Senior Day ceremony prior to first serve on Nov. 21, Academy of Art University volleyball overcame Pacific West Conference rival Dominican for the 3–1 victory (15–25, 25–9, 25–16, 26–24). Senior setter Rachael Smith (Advertising) and senior opposite Isabel Emrich (Fine Art) both made strong contributions to the win in their final career match.

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    Telling Stories Behind the Headlines

    Alumna and new multimedia communications instructor Euna Lee shares her own personal story of capture in North Korea and her joy at passing on her knowledge to students

    In March of 2009, Academy of Art University School of Multimedia Communications instructor and former student Euna Lee was working on a documentary in Asia for now defunct Current TV. Lee and fellow journalist Laura Ling were focusing on the plight of North Koreans—especially women—who defected to neighboring China in search of a better life only to become victims of human traffickers. The two journalists and a cameraman were wrapping up a successful week of filming when, at the urging of their guide, they agreed to visit one more place, a safety house for people crossing the border. While following their guide across the frozen Tumen River in the dark, they inadvertently entered North Korea.

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    School of Animation and Visual Effects Celebrates 'Soar's' Success

    Commitment and collaboration proved a winning combination for director Alyce Tzue


    School of Animation & Visual Effects Graduate Director Tom Bertino, Academy alumna Alyce Tzue and Associate Director of Visual Effects Derek Flood. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Spirits were flying at Academy of Art University’s Atelier Gallery on Nov. 12, when the School of Animation and Visual Effects celebrated Soar, a highly acclaimed short film by 2014 M.F.A. graduate Alyce Tzue.

    “It feels amazing! We’ve rarely ever been in the same room together,” said Tzue, referring to the approximately 100 students and instructors who worked with her on the film over a two and a half year period. “There were so many stages in the pipeline and each student came in and did their part, but rarely did we have everyone come together. I’m really thankful to the Academy for hosting this party. Having an event just for Soar means a lot, and seeing all these familiar faces in one place is really rewarding.”

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    Designer Serena Zanello Continues Fulfilling Life-Long Passion


    School of Interior Architecture & Design instructor Serena Zanello. Courtesy of Serena Zanello.

    Academy of Art University instructor Serena Zanello said she knew since she was a kid that she wanted to be in design. “I grew up in a family of artists and I also lived in a house that was a big art atelier for my parents that was full of materials and colors,” said Zanello, who has worked in design and architecture for 10 years.

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    Academy Printmakers at Their Best

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    A selection of prints from the 2015 Printmaking Exchange Portfolio. Photo by Dennis Peterson.

    This year, the talented community of faculty and students in the School of Fine Art – Printmaking will be hosting its 12th Annual Printmaking Exchange Portfolio. For over a decade, this exchange has been a tradition for both students and faculty alike as they come together to collect and admire each other’s work.

    The idea behind print exchange is simple. A group of like-minded printmakers decide on a standard size and theme for their portfolio. Based on the number of participants, each artist creates a set (or edition) of hand pulled prints. The edition quantity is always large enough so that each artist can collect one print from every other member of the exchange. Thus, each person goes home with an assortment of work from many talented artists.

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    Creating Joy Through Cartoons


    Working on 'Sisters' in the 2-D M.F.A. Lab. Courtesy of Chiara Ferrari.

    The latest animation profile in our ongoing series focuses on Chiara Ferrari. Twins, Chiara and Kim, are the creators of the short, Sisters. Their film won second place for the 2-D Animation Short Film Full Color category at the 2015 Spring Show. After graduation, Ferrari received a job offer at DHX Media in Vancouver, Canada.

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    'Eggventure' Finds Success on the Festival Circuit

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    Danielle Johnson’s final review. (L–R) Stewart Lew, Sherrie H. Sinclair, Danielle Johnson, Michael Vickner and Scotland Barnes. Courtesy of Danielle Johnson.

    At the beginning of the semester, the “Fantastic Five Females in Traditional Animation” series was intended to feature five recent female graduate students who have completed their M.F.A. degrees in traditional animation. It seems that a sixth student has been sneakily applying to film festivals and has won a number of them.

    Our sixth profile in this series features Danielle Johnson. Johnson’s short, Eggventure, was the winner for the 2-D Animation Short Film Full Color category at the 2015 Spring Show. Since the completion of her film, Eggventure has been selected in nine festivals.

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    Academy Students Crack The "Internet of Things" Code


    Students from the “Internet of Things” field trip. Photo by Mark Hellar.

    You’ve probably heard of the “Internet of Things” (or IoT for short), but are left scratching your head as to what that term really means, or what it looks like in real life. To unlock the answer, I sat down with School of Web Design + New Media part-time faculty and 20-plus year tech guru, Mark Hellar to talk about our new class, “The Internet of Things,” and how Academy of Art University students are learning to build cutting-edge WiFi-enabled experiences.

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    Academy Alum's Apps Make Learning Good Values Fun for Kids


    A scene from Brandon Chappell’s 2014 book and app 'Drew Meets Boo.' Courtesy of Brandon Chappell.

    Since graduating from the Academy of Art University in 2009, Brandon Chappell has been busy putting his graphic design and animation skills to use in a variety of projects, including creating interactive apps that help kids learn good values in a fun way. His latest app, SPOOF, is based on an animated short film of the same name that he directed while attending the Academy.

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    Fall 2015 Costume Carnival: 'Beastly'


    The menagerie. (L–R) Teresa Kabba, Marvin Gardner, Courtney Russell, Anthea Tuley, Sarafina Murphy-Gibson, Kelsey Sailors, Mick Glenn, Veronique Bohne, Claudio Tudisco and Connie Foster. Photo by Shahin Fathi Djalali.

    The Fall 2015 Costume Carnival brought an opportunity for our model team to show their wild side.  The theme was “Beastly” and starred anthropomorphic beasts personifying the seven deadly sins. Among the menagerie there was a gluttonous rococo pig, a proud lion boasting of his hunting trophies and a snake charmer who enchanted herself in mirrors. Students were delighted by their debaucherous poses as they preened, overindulged and pulled each other’s tails.

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    Nonprofit Encourages Creative Writing in an Inspiring Classroom

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    Academy student work visualizing the work “The Universe to Fly to with My Wings” by 826 Valencia author Marlon Hernandez, age 10. Courtesy of Lillian Guo.

    It’s safe to assume you are reading this. Literacy makes thought solid and transports communication across time and space. Sharing the gift of reading and writing is an urgent task, but sometimes the instruction and mentorship of training young readers and writers is banal, dry or just plain absent. Worse, writing can be seen as an insider activity, with few young people identifying as “authors.”

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    Designing the Timeless: The Growth of House of Borel


    Eve by House of Borel. Courtesy of House of Borel.

    Following my trip to fashion week this past September, I had the pleasure of attending the Michael Costello fashion show. The designs and runway were beautiful, but what caught my attention the most were the bags that each of the models carried down the runway. Knowing Michael Costello does not make handbags, I immediately asked around to find out who designed the bags. To my surprise, I was told the bags were from a new fashion house in San Francisco, House of Borel. After looking on Instagram to find more information, there they were: “Standout Luxury. Designed in San Francisco. Made in Italy.”

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    Annual Faculty + Alumni Fine Art Auction Celebrates 20 Years

    Supporting the Fine Art Student Scholarship Fund, the event raised over $120,000 this year


    Attendees browse the many items on display at this year’s Fine Art Auction. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Numbers flew, wine flowed and pulses raced at The Cannery on Nov. 14 when art enthusiasts from the Bay Area and beyond jostled to bid on 409 works of art in the silent auction, and 30 pieces showcased in the live auction at Academy of Art University’s 20th Annual Faculty + Alumni Fine Art Auction. A fundraiser for the Fine Art Student Scholarship Fund, this year’s event raised over $120,000, with half going toward the scholarship fund and half going directly to the artists.

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    Academy Launches Social Media Center

    The new resource will help students and faculty develop their skills to meet the changing needs of the online world


    Stephan Rabimov, director of the Social Media Center at Academy of Art University, leads a discussion on social media strategies. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Academy of Art University has launched a new Social Media Center ( at the heart of San Francisco. The Social Media Center is comprised of a professional development series of courses in social media, a hub for academic social resources and a gateway, in the form of a Global Advisory Board, connecting the Academy to the industry giants of San Francisco, Silicon Valley and beyond.

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    Link+ Now Available at Academy of Art University Library

    The Academy of Art University Library is proud to announce that it has become a member of Link+. Link+ is a library material borrowing program, which takes place between participating libraries throughout California and Nevada. This program allows patrons to request and borrow library materials that are not present in their home library’s collection. 

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    Academy Student Saves Surfer From Shark Attack


    Brando Keoni Bowthorpe paddling Colin Cook back to shore. According to bystanders on the beach, the splash in front is said to be the shark’s tail fin thrashing about, as it positioned itself between the surfers and the shore. Photo by Glen Fowlie.

    On Oct. 9, former Academy of Art University student Brando Keoni Bowthorpe headed to Leftovers, a beach that’s a half-mile from his home on Oahu’s North Shore. Though he’s an avid surfer, that day, Bowthorpe went out on his stand up paddle board. As he ventured into the ocean, he had no inkling that his life—and that of Colin Cook, a fellow surfer he’d never met—was about to change forever.

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    Kim Ferrari Talks Love of Art and Her Film 'Sisters'

    The animation student and her twin sister Chiara’s thesis project has been highly praised for its quality


    A still from 'Sisters.' Courtesy of Chiara Ferrari.

    Our latest animation profile features Kim Ferrari. Ferrari and her twin, Chiara, created their film, Sisters, for their thesis project. The short won first place for its background painting and layout design at the 2015 Spring Show. At the end of spring, Ferrari was offered a position to work on the show The Awesomes.

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    Creating Lasting Memories Through Creativity

    Meredith Scott Lynn, actress, producer and creator of Write Brain Books, has a creative energy that ignites those around her. This has helped her succeed as a child in school and is how she built a successful career as an adult. Now with her new company, Write Brain Books, and the artistry of almost 30 Academy of Art University illustration students, she is using that creative drive to help school children honor their creative side, their right brain, in an ever increasing left brain world.

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    Pixar's Bill Cone Illuminates the Magic Power of Light


    (L–R) Nicolás Villarreal, Director of the School of Visual Development; Bill Cone, Production Designer at Pixar, and Chris Carman, Associate Director of the School of Visual Development. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Pixar production designer Bill Cone is a little obsessed with light and how it changes the way we see the world. On Nov. 10, a large crowd of Academy of Art University animation students gathered in Morgan Auditorium to listen to Cone discuss what he’s learned about light as a landscape painter, and how he applies that knowledge to his work in film.

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    Ethics and Leadership Panel Gives Architecture Students Plenty to Ponder


    (L–R) Mimi Sullivan, executive director of the School of Architecture; Mallory Scott Cusenbery, architecture faculty and guest speaker; Jeff Oberdorfer, guest speaker and Jennifer Asselstine, B.Arch director. Photo by Bob Toy.

    On Nov. 9, while rain drummed on the roof of the atrium at 601 Brannan Street, Academy of Art University architecture students listened to a compelling discussion about the importance of design and building practices that support social equity. School of Architecture Executive Director Mimi Sullivan moderated the event and introduced the presenters: guest speaker Jeff Oberdorfer—a housing, urban design and sustainability consultant—and School of Architecture instructor Mallory Scott Cusenbery, who is also a design principal at Ross Drulis Cusenbery.

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    Bringing Pakistan's Film Style to the World Stage

    MPTV alumnus Bilal Lashari is making history with his filmmaking

    Academy of Art University has always prided itself on its international outreach to aspiring filmmakers. In recent years, that outreach has been solidified by Bilal Lashari. Since graduating from the Academy in 2008 with a B.F.A. from the School of Motion Pictures & Television, he has gone on to direct the movie, WAAR (translates to The Strike), which is the most successful Pakistani feature film in history. WAAR has been nominated for numerous awards overseas, including Best Picture and Best Director at the ARY Film Festival and the Lux Style Awards. The success has already green lighted a much anticipated sequel. 

    Lashari is currently directing a reboot of the Pakistani cult classic Maula Jatt, which is being produced with a multi-million dollar budget. In an interview with The Express Tribune, Lashari said, “The entire world has been exporting their own styles and versions of cinema outside their territory, but we have been silent.


    Bilal Lashari. Courtesy of Bilal Lashari.

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    Students Go Behind 'Inside Out'


    (L–R) Pixar animators Stephen Wong, Austin Madison, Paul Mendoza and Terry Song. Photo by Bob Toy.

    The hallways of 79 New Montgomery started filling up at around 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6 with students eager to hear from the evening’s presenters, who are living the careers of their dreams. Hosted by Tea Time Animation, four talented artists from Disney Pixar, Stephen Wong, Terry Song, Austin Madison and Paul Mendoza, were on hand to discuss the animation of Inside Out.

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