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Archive for '2017'

    Sharlto Copley Discusses New Film, ‘Free Fire’

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    (L-R) Babou Ceesay, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley and Noah Taylor in Free Fire. Photo by Kerry Brown. Courtesy of A24.

    In new film Free Fire, Brie Larson’s character Justine sums up Sharlto Copley’s Vernon quite succinctly: “He was misdiagnosed as a child genius and he never got over it.”

    Larson and Copley join a motley crew of misfits in British filmmaker Ben Wheatley’s lastest film for a slapstick shootout during an arms deal gone awry. The story takes place in an abandoned Boston warehouse in the 1970s, a decade that sets the tone, mood and cinematography of Free Fire – think incandescent lighting, gold jewelry and wide lapels.

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    Fashion Journalism Alumnae Cover Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia

    Vivien Moon and Angela Han seize the opportunity to immerse themselves in the emerging Moscow fashion scene

    In mid-March, the chance to cover their first international fashion week lured two Academy of Art University fashion journalism alumnae to front-row seats thousands of miles away. Vivien Moon of BuzzFeed and Angela Han of The Huffington Post made it a mission to maximize their access not only to the shows, but also to a spectrum of designers stretching from traditionalist to stereotype-smashing. Bound for neither Paris nor Milan—the hallowed European fashion capitals one might expect—Moon and Han touched down in Moscow, home of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia.

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    School of Jewelry & Metal Arts Grad Lands Creative Quarterly Cover

    Each year, Creative Quarterly—a prestigious publication that showcases top artists and designers—singles out the best of the exceptional work featured in its pages during the previous 12 months. A panel of outside judges narrows the choices down to the 25 best in four categories—fine art, graphic design, illustration and photography. The winners are published in Creative Quarterly’s special 100 Best Annual edition.

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    Changing the World of Street Art

    Fine art alumna Nina Wright looks to build confidence and opportunities with an all-girls graffiti camp

    The end of March concludes Women’s History Month, an entire celebration of women, girls and the historic strides and accolades accomplished throughout the years. However, even in 2017, some barriers still remain to be broken, especially in the world of street art, and Nina Wright, Academy of Art University School of Fine Art alumna, aims to change that.

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    Acting Students Bring Nuance and Range to 'Almost, Maine'

    The play charts the emotional ups and downs of love in its many forms

    For one weekend in March, the Northern Lights, 12-degree temperatures and wrenching emotional climaxes overtook an intimate theater space at 466 Townsend. From March 17–19, the room hosted the School of Acting graduate performance of the John Cariani play Almost, Maine, directed by Lena Hart.

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    Funny, intimate 'Detroit' coming to Sutter Street Theatre

    Sometimes small encounters can be life altering. And motivation to make a big change can come from a stranger. This is true for the two couples in the play Detroit, which Academy of Art University’s School of Acting is presenting in April. 

    Written by Lisa D’Amour, Detroit won an Obie Award for Best New American Play in 2013 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. The story revolves around two very different couples who live next door to each other in an unnamed suburb near a midsize American city. In the play, Mary and Ben host their new neighbors, Sharon and Kenny, at a backyard barbecue. Detroit explores suburban angst related to upward mobility, spousal relationships and economic anxiety.

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    Ready, Roll, Cut: Linda Dahlem

    Originally from Luxembourg, Academy of Art University alumna Linda Dahlem graduated in Fall 2015 after studying directing in the School of Motion Pictures & Television.

    Before arriving at the Academy, Dahlem was working and studying film in Berlin at a small private school. After inquiring about a job in the art department, a production designer went out of their way to explain how things worked to her. “She put so much trust in me, I felt like I could do anything,” Dahlem shared.

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    Bay Area Writer Daniel Clowes Talks 'Wilson'

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    (L-R): Woody Harrelson, Writer Daniel Clowes and Director Craig Johnson on the set of Wilson. Photo by Wilson Webb. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

    When life hands you lemons, sometimes the lemonade turns out sour. In Wilson, a film adapted from comic book writer Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel of the same name, the titular character (played by Woody Harrelson) brushes through his days sowing the seeds of his cynicism. After his father dies and his only friend moves away, Wilson faces a rude awakening when he realizes how lonely he truly is and seeks to fill the hole his own grouchy tendencies dug for himself.

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    Ajomale named DII Track Athlete of the Year

    Earlier this month, the redshirt sophomore defended his 60m title at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships

    After earning West Region Track Athlete of the Year award, then National Championships in both the 60m and 200m at Indoor Nationals on March 11, Mobolade Ajomale became the first male athlete in program history to be named NCAA Division II Indoor Men’s Track Athlete of the Year after an announcement by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on March 14. 

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    School of Fashion Announces Textile Design as a Specialized Degree

    The next generation of designers will now be able to hone their craft in NASAD-certified programs

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    Hae In Kim drying her print with a blow dryer. Photo by Jennifer Jeon.

    Responding to the growing market need for textile, surface and graphic print designers, the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University has created the associate, undergraduate and graduate degrees in the specialized field of textile design, which were recently certified by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). These research-based programs focus on comprehensive design development to empower the next generation of designers.

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    Director Draws on His Love for Old School Animation in 'The Boss Baby'

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    (L–R) Elham Sepehrjou, Allison Freeman, Ramsey Ann Naito (producer of The Boss Baby), Gaby Rojo, Fernando Penafiel, Leo Quert, and (in front) Tom McGrath (director of The Boss Baby). Photo courtesy of Fernando Penafiel.

    Director Tom McGrath and producer Ramsey Naito won’t be offended if you think their latest animated comedy, The Boss Baby, looks like a throwback to an old Disney movie. They’ll take it as a compliment. McGrath and Naito were recently at 620 Sutter Street to show a large group of animation students clips from The Boss Baby and talk about making the DreamWorks Animation film. They also shared information about their backgrounds and offered advice for students hoping to launch a career in animation.

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    Academy Grad's Drone Film of Mongolia Soars at Festivals

    Hired by the Mongol Ecology Center, Jeff Colhoun spent six weeks creating the spectacular film

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    Academy of Art University School of Photography graduate Jeff Colhoun (M.F.A. ’12). Photo courtesy of Jeff Colhoun.

    Few people get the chance to travel to Mongolia, a sparsely populated Asian country bordered by China and Russia. Even fewer get the opportunity to experience the rugged beauty of Darkhad Valley, one of the most remote places in Mongolia and the world. The difficult-to-access valley is home to the nomadic Dukha people and endangered species such as snow leopards and ibex (a type of mountain goat). 

    Last year, Academy of Art University alumnus Jeff Colhoun was hired by the Mongol Ecology Center, a nonprofit government organization, to create the documentary Darkhad Valley. “I spent six weeks in Darkhad Valley shooting a film about the rangers there and the work they’re doing to protect endangered species,” said Colhoun, who graduated with an M.F.A. in photography in 2012.

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    Ready, Roll, Cut: Carly McCarthy

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    Academy of Art University School of Motion Pictures & Television alumna Carly McCarthy. Photo courtesy of Carly McCarthy.

    Academy of Art University School of Motion Pictures & Television (MPTV) alumna Carly McCarthy’s talents were spotted early by Executive Director of Immersive Technology James Egan and MPTV instructor Jonathan Crosby. They suggested that McCarthy submit her short film, Good Grief, to The Smithsonian Institution’s 2015 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Her film was selected as a finalist from hundreds of submissions from all over the country. Another one of her short films, Hey Mom, had been selected at the Academy’s own 2015 Media Awards.

    Taking her talent and the skills she learned while studying cinematography at the Academy, McCarthy was able to land an internship working with United States Senator Bernie Sanders in Washington, D.C. 

    McCarthy recently spoke about how different opportunities followed after graduating from the Academy as well as being inspired by the senator from Vermont contributed to her path to D.C.

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    'Moonlight's' Rollercoaster Ride to a Best Picture Win

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    School of Communications and Media Technologies student Kiyomi Mitsuda interviewing Moonlight director Barry Jenkins in 2016. Image courtesy of Kiyomi Mitsuda.

    Little. Black. Chiron. These are the three parts that make up the underdog movie of the year, Moonlight.

    Moonlight follows a young African-American boy named Chiron in the projects just outside of Miami, Florida. The film focuses on how Chiron deals with his mother, who has a crack addiction, his struggles with his sexuality in an African-American society and growing up not knowing exactly who he is.

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    Take a Trip To 'Almost, Maine,' With School of Acting Grad Students

    “There is nothing like taking the audience on a journey,” said Amanda Casarella, a final-semester M.F.A. acting student cast in the School of Acting’s graduate performance of Almost, Maine. “The willingness of the audience to jump into the story with you is palpable to the actors on stage. You don’t get that immediate response when you’re working in front of a camera.”

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    Advertising Alumnus's Honda Ad a Winner During Super Bowl

    "The Power of Dreams" campaign features celebrities before they were famous

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    Comic book writer Stan Lee advises, “If you want to make a universe, make a universe,” in Honda’s “The Power of Dreams” campaign that aired during Super Bowl 51. Image courtesy of Britt McColl.

    Before they were household names, many American celebrities had their fashion faux pas and bad hairstyles memorialized in high school yearbooks, just like the rest of us. Jason Sperling, senior vice president and executive creative director of ad agency Rubin Postaer and Associates, tapped into this rite of passage for the popular Super Bowl commercial his team created for Honda’s latest campaign, “The Power of Dreams.” The ad also introduced viewers to the car manufacturer’s latest version of its top-selling utility vehicle, the CR-V.

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    School of Acting Hosts San Francisco URTAs

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    Executive Director of the School of Acting Diane Baker (center) with Rachel Friedman (left) and Scott Steele (right) of the University Resident Theatre Association. Photo courtesy of Diane Baker.

    Each winter, the University Resident Theatre Association holds a series of auditions and interviews for prospective M.F.A. candidates. Known as the URTAs, the events are held in Chicago, New York and San Francisco. This year, Academy of Art University’s School of Acting hosted the San Francisco URTAs. The event took place Feb. 4–5 and provided some 150 aspiring actors with the opportunity to audition for dozens of recruiters from 39 URTA member universities and other prominent institutions.

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    For Art's Sake - № 3: Why Should I Go to Art School?

    The term “starving artist” is more often related to an amateur artist. Yes, everyone has talent in art, but not everyone will have a successful career without a good education in art. Your talent and passion is one thing, but you also need to be well-educated and have knowledge about your chosen field. Art school is where you can receive the education as well as see beyond what you think you know and be able to communicate and execute your creativity into reality. It’s a place that can help you push yourself.

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    Summer Study Abroad Program in Florence Welcomes Students From All Majors

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    Each year, Academy of Art University’s School of Fine Art organizes a summer study abroad program welcoming students from all majors to become immersed in the history, culture and art of one of the world’s most historically stunning Renaissance cities—Florence, Italy. While the seven and a half week program is centered upon instruction, coursework, day trips and three-day weekends, there’s plenty of room for spontaneity.

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    Film Review: 'Personal Shopper'

    Kristen Stewart stars in the unnerving, multifaceted Personal Shopper

    Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, Personal Shopper is a psychological thriller that explores identity while toying with the paranormal. Kristen Stewart stars as Maureen, a personal shopper who hates her job, and her wealthy clients. Since the death of her twin brother, who they both believed could communicate with the spirit world, Maureen has been waiting for a sign from him that confirms an afterlife. When she is not running around after the volatile celebrity Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten), she spends time in her brother’s old house in Paris, listening to eerie creaks, dripping taps, and searching for his presence.

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    Podcast Course Now Part of the Academy's Liberal Arts Curriculum

    COM-150 will introduce students to the “fastest growing form of audience entertainment in the world”

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    School of Communications & Media Technologies instructor and Urban Knights Radio General Manager Matty Staudt. Photo by Bob Toy.

    The popularity of podcasts continues to soar. According to Edison Research, some 35 million people listened to a weekly podcast in 2016, and members of this group downloaded an average of five podcasts per week. Academy of Art University recently added COM-150—a beginning podcasting class—to its liberal arts curriculum. Previously, the course was offered mainly to School of Communications & Media Technologies (COM) students who had to meet certain prerequisites before enrolling in the course.

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    Celebrating the Year of the Rooster

    Students and faculty showcased the Academy’s rooster-centric float during this year’s Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade

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    Academy of Art University Year of the Rooster float at this year’s Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Academy of Art University’s the Year of the Rooster float lit up downtown San Francisco on Saturday, Feb. 11, during the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade, a celebration that dates back to the 1860s. Dancing lions, Chinese acrobats, stilt walkers, marching bands, and the Golden Dragon wrapped around Union Square, Chinatown and the Financial District, drawing thousands of spectators for a Lunar New Year spectacle. On a weekend of rare sunny weather, the firecrackers were popping, children were smiling and even live roosters were making an appearance.

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    TIME Magazine Hails Industrial Design Alumna's Assistive Tableware Set as One of 2016's Best Inventions

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    Sha Yao’s Eatwell assistive tableware. Photo courtesy of Sha Yao.

    Watching her late grandmother struggle with cognitive impairments resulting from Alzheimer’s disease, Sha Yao experienced a common emotional response to a difficult situation. She felt helpless. What the Academy of Art University School of Industrial Design (IND) alumna did next was decidedly uncommon. Yao designed and created Eatwell, an assistive tableware set to help make mealtimes easier for people with impaired cognitive function.

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    For Art's Sake - No. 2: Let Your Child Be!

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    Artists' work is not just found in fine art galleries. For decades, artists have created and designed you clothes, appliances, your cars and the entertainment that you enjoy. Photos courtesy of Bob Toy.

    When your child wishes to have a career in art, why do you discourage the idea that “you can’t make a living as an artist” and you will become a “starving artist”? You say, “Why don’t you become a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant?”

    Not all career fields make a good living. However, a great percentage of careers contain jobs related to the arts. Have you heard of the tech companies? For over 30 years, artists have created many devices and technology to improve our daily life. Who do you think created everything you own, from your clothes, your appliances, your car, your home and the entertainment you enjoy? They are all created by artists.

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    Underwater Photographer Dives Into Helping Cancer Survivors

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    Breast cancer survivor, Kim. Photo by Erena Shimoda.

    Ever since she was a little girl, Erena Shimoda fantasized about being a mermaid and calling the ocean her home. As an adult, she felt like her childhood dream had almost come true the first time she went scuba diving during a trip to Honduras 14 years ago.  

    “It was the closest I’d felt to living underwater,” said Shimoda, a native of Tokyo who graduated from Academy of Art University in 2001 with a B.A. in new media. “I was hooked on scuba diving. I just loved those moments underwater. I started taking photographs of fish and sharing them with other scuba divers back on the surface.”

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    Academy Grad's New Book Helps Kids Embrace Different Cultures

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    Academy of Art University alumnus David McBride's new children's book "Kazumi Racer Pig." Image courtesy of David McBride.

    Animator and children’s book author and illustrator David McBride has always enjoyed learning about different cultures. He hopes his latest book, Kazumi Racecar Pig, will encourage kids to love and respect all people, no matter what their culture or background.  The story’s main character—Kazumi, a cute animated pig—is afraid of anything that’s different from the world he knows. But when he gets stranded on an alien planet, he must learn to accept unfamiliar creatures and customs in order to get home again. His journey teaches the racecar-driving pig that being different can be a good thing and also leads him to new friends.

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    A Conversation With Tom Collom

    The architect, designer and entrepreneur shares his inspiration during a visit to the School of Interior Architecture & Design

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    Architect, designer and entrepreneur Tom Collom sits down for an interview with School of Interior Architecture & Design's Luna Sibai. Photo by Mark Miller.

    Tom Collom, a successful designer, architect, entrepreneur and developer here in San Francisco, recently visited Academy of Art University’s School of Interior Architecture & Design (IAD) for a guest lecture. You might be familiar with some of his work; Market on Market is his latest. He also has Small Foods, a new concept in convenience markets, on 2nd Street. He came to 601 Brannan to share his real world experience with our students about the creation of a retail food space.

    Recently IAD’s own Luna Sibai sat down with Collom after his presentation in the Atrium.

    How are you feeling today?

    I’m good. I always wanted someone like me, with experience, to meet when I was a student. I didn’t get that at the University of California. I felt that when I went out into the real world to get a job, I really didn’t have a clue about how the real world worked. It was like sink or swim. I’ve accumulated 30 years of experience doing this, and I think to be able to pass that information on is a great benefit to the community, to fellow designers and budding architects. I think it’s great that the Academy of Art wants this and sees its importance.

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    Photography Major Wins 'Academy Idol' Singing Competition

    Akayna Calkins impressed judges, the studio audience and live-stream viewers with her rendition of “Hold Back the River”

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    Academy Idol judges and audience look on as winner Akayna Calkins performs during the series finale. Photo by Bob Toy.

    It’s not every day a photography student goes to college and rekindles a love for music. But that’s exactly what Akayna Calkins did during her very first semester at the Academy of Art University.

    When Calkins found out about the Academy’s reality singing competition Academy Idol from a friend, she mustered up the courage and gave it a try. Six weeks later, she walked off the live studio set a winner, defeating the 11 other contestants, and taking home the grand prize—a trip to audition at any singing competition in the country.

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    Animation Instructors' Short Film Earns Oscar Nomination

    Co-director Andrew Coats and co-writer Mark Harris made Borrowed Time during their spare time at Pixar

    A little over a year ago, Andrew Coats screened his animated short film, Borrowed Time, for a private audience at Pixar. John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Jim Morris were all there.

    “That remains the most stressful/scary screening I have ever had in my life,” said Coats, an animator at Pixar and instructor at Academy of Art University, who directed the film with his friend and coworker Lou Hamou-Lhadj. “Pixar is probably filled with the toughest critics we know. So the outpouring of support we got was amazing. John [Lasseter] even came up after and gave us big hugs. It meant a lot to hear him tell us how much he liked the film and how proud he was of our accomplishment in finishing it. I will remember that for the rest of my life!”

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    Scott Borrero Wins 'Top Photographer'

    The former Academy of Art University photography student took first in AdoramaTV’s reality competition web series hosted by Nigel Barker

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    Scott Borrero's winning image. “I want to leave a legacy of inspiration that will hopefully bring positive change to the world," said Borrero. Photo courtesy of Zazil Media Group/PRWeb.

    Until recently, photographers could only watch, and click their shutter buttons, as a parade of competitive reality series featuring creative professionals such as singers, dancers, chefs and models became full-fledged cultural phenomena. But last fall, AdoramaTV’s original reality photography competition web series, Top Photographer with Nigel Barker, finally gave them a turn in front of the camera.

    Adorama, one of the world’s largest photography, video, audio, imaging and electronics retailers, issued a nationwide call for entrants to photographers of all skill levels.

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    Academy Students & Faculty to Participate in 2017 Chinese New Year Parade

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    Mateo Tayamen works on the lighting for the Academy's float. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Chinese New Year on Saturday, Jan. 28, marked the beginning of the Year of the Rooster. The festivities in San Francisco will culminate with the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade on Saturday, Feb. 11. Once again, Academy of Art University will ring in the annual celebration by showcasing an outstanding student collaboration project. Students from multiple disciplines are working together, creating the intricately decorated float, original theme music and live performance.

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    For Art's Sake - No. 1: What Do You Mean That You're Not Talented in Art?

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    Photo by Bob Toy.

    You were born with the ability to create art. People that continue to learn and develop their natural talent in creating art in their adult lives are known as artists. Those who stop creating art when they are a child will lose their natural gift. Being talented in art is our birthright—it’s in our DNA.

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    Photography Grad's Work Helps People Heal From Loss

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    An image from Susan Mah’s Loss Project collection. Photo by Susan Mah.

    As a young girl, Susan Mah inherited a passion for photography from her father. “He was a fantastic photographer and my first mentor,” said Mah, who delved deeper into the art form in a ninth grade photography class. She learned how to process film in a darkroom and shoot manually on her first real camera. Like her architect father, Mah enjoyed taking pictures of buildings as well as places she visited. She even dreamed of becoming a photographer for National Geographic one day.

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    Highlighting the History of Firehouse No. 1

    Fine art students collaborate with firefighters to create historic mural

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    A firefighter probationary model helps the artists with reference. Photo courtesy of Carol Nunnelly.

    Who doesn’t feel safer knowing that first responders are on the job 24-7? Fulfilling a commitment to serve and protect all San Franciscans and visitors, our heroic firefighters are always on the job.

    If someone falls into the bay, gets stuck on the cliff overlooking the ocean, finds themselves trapped in a toxic burning building, or even if you are in need of emergency medical treatment, the firefighters are there for you. These are people trained to calmly reassure under pressure while the rest of us mortals “freak out”!

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    Meet Your Models: Jonathan Bowling

    Jonathan Bowling has inspired me from the beginning.  In 2009, I was recruiting for a bawdy Neverland themed Costume Carnival, and I recognized that he would make the perfect Peter Pan. Rakish and charming, with tousled copper locks and an enthusiasm for stories, he was made for the role. Since then, he has continuously expanded his repertoire of characters to include both beloved icons and those of his own design. His dedication to the craft is impressive as he painstakingly constructs elaborate costumes and hunts for the perfect props to complete his ensembles. Pulling from his creative background in animation, Bowling’s talents as a storyteller continue into his job as a host for interactive mystery experiences. It’s safe to say he has successfully fulfilled his childhood dream of professional dressing up.

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    Redefining the Future With Virtual Reality

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    Photo by Bob Toy.

    Academy of Art University’s second Virtual Reality (VR) Summit in 2016 has continued to show off the latest revolutionary developments in immersive media. Despite the rain, the 79 New Montgomery Theater was jam-packed with attendees on Dec. 8, 2016. The summit gathered thought leaders and VR industry pioneers from Zeality, Dysonics, Oculus Story Studio and Jaunt VR.

    “We are bringing all of the top people in the VR world to our school,” said Executive Director of Immersive Technology James Egan. “We want students to learn how VR can be an amazing job opportunity in various industries. This is a new world that is going to change every department.”

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