Archive for 'November 2017'

    School of Fashion Alumnus Makes a Statement on 'Project Runway'

    Brandon Kee, 2016 B.F.A. menswear design graduate, spoke candidly with Academy Art U News about his Project Runway experience


    Brandon Kee stars in Project Runway season 16, airing on Lifetime. Photo by Barbara Nitke. Copyright 2017.

    Out of the 16 hopefuls on the 16th season of Lifetime series Project Runway, Brandon Kee was the quietest. Just a year removed from school, Kee, a 2016 B.F.A. menswear design alumnus from the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University, kept to himself and stayed above the drama of the show. Working with a “tunnel vision” focus, Kee’s designs dominated the catwalk and awed judges week after week. Kee didn’t need to use words to say anything – his clothes already said plenty for him.

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    Molding a Legacy

    Sculpture instructors and alumni are creating a street-level monument of famed social activist Norman Lear


    Schifrin works on getting Lear’s expression just right for the monument. Photo courtesy of Peter Schifrin.


    The values of Academy of Art University are not simply rooted in fostering artists who make art, but in artists who make a statement. There may not be a better person who emulates that value than legendary television producer and social activist Norman Lear. So what better sculptors than instructors and alumni from the School of Fine Art - Sculpture at the Academy to create the first Lear monument of its kind in the country.

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    Shaping the Future With Stories

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    Illustration by Eda Kaban.

    There’s not an adult who doesn’t remember a children’s book that vividly captured their imagination as a child and connected them to literature. A book whose illustrations brought that story to life. This is the role of a children’s book illustrator and this year, four connected to Academy of Art University’s School of Illustration (ILL) were honored for their excellence in the impactful art of visual storytelling. 

    “Children’s books shape the future of every young reader,” said Chuck Pyle, ILL director. “Our artists are very driven, smart and passionate storytellers whose work is being recognized as the best of the best.”

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    Creating a Positive Social Impact Through Design

    LAN student Nahal Sohbati shared her design process for Ridge Lane Park in an inspiring lecture


    School of Landscape Architecture graduate student Nahal Sohbati gives a presentation during her department’s 2017 Speaker Series. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Look out landscape architecture, here comes Nahal Sohbati. On the cusp of graduating this month with her master’s degree, Sohbati will soon take her industry by storm and bring with her the ideals she implemented in her award-winning Ridge Lane Park project. 

    Sohbati imparted her experience and ideologies on her fellow Academy of Art University students during the School of Landscape Architecture’s (LAN) Speaker Series on Nov. 2. 

    “We are incredibly proud of her work,” said Jeff McLane, LAN director, as he introduced Sohbati to a live and online audience at The Cannery. “It’s amazing to see student work that actually becomes real. I hope this inspires all of you to go out and create.”

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    Experiencing the Classics

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    The DeLorean DMC-12. Photo by Nina Tabios.

    For the 60th Annual San Francisco International Auto Show this holiday season, the Academy of Art University revealed some rare gems and classic favorites from its revered collection of old-school automobiles from Nov. 18–25.

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    Spotlight on School of Illustration Children's Book Instructors

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    Illustration by Julie Downing.

    Writing and illustrating picture books isn’t child’s play. The artists and authors who create them just make it look easy. Academy of Art University’s School of Illustration is fortunate to have a team of talented instructors specializing in children’s books. Whether they do double-duty as writers and illustrators, the artists who help bring an author’s words to life with beautiful images or just focus on writing, are all successful professionals. While their skill sets and backgrounds vary, they all share a love for teaching at the Academy. In fact, several of these instructors are School of Illustration alums, eager to pass along the knowledge they gained as students to those who are following in their footsteps. 

    “It takes pros to teach people to become passionate professionals,” said Chuck Pyle, director of the School of Illustration. “I count on hiring individuals who can communicate what they care about clearly and succinctly, and teach with passion and wisdom. These instructors ensure the next generation of children’s books artists and writers will be strong like them and prepared to reshape the world of children’s books. I love looking at their work—it inspires me.”

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    COM Alumni Share Their Industry Journeys


    (L-R) Elizabeth Sweeney (Class of 2016), Matt Cesca (Class of 2016), Mehak Khullar (Class of 2017), COM instructor John Scott and Devin London (Class of 2013). Photo by Bob Toy.

    John Scott made sure COM Careers was short and sweet. The School of Communications & Media Technologies (COM) instructor at Academy of Art University acted as the mediator between the four alums he invited to share their stories and career tidbits to current students. 

    Graduates Devin London (2013), Mehak Khullar (2017), Elizabeth Sweeney and Matt Cesca (both 2016) sat on the stage at 79 New Montgomery theater and spoke candidly about their experiences going from Academy students to industry professionals.

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    Animation Fall Festival Brings a Variety of Talent to the Screen


    School of Animation & Visual Effects Graduate Director Tom Bertino and Freshman Studies Coordinator Shaun Featherstone. Photo by Bob Toy.

    As quickly as it arrived, another fall semester at the Academy of Art University is coming to a close. And just as it did in previous years, the School of Animation & Visual Effects (ANM) hosted its annual Animation Fall Festival on Nov. 14, and while this year’s event garnered the usual audience giggles, viewers got a little taste of the bizarre as well.

    For starters, ANM Graduate Director Tom Bertino brought back his “It Came From Bertino’s Basement,” which has been on hiatus for the past few festivals. An avid film collector since he was a preteen, Bertino said his home library is chock full of “strange or obscure or sort of peripheral” films that may “never get to see the light of day.”

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    School of Fashion Co-Presents Film on Iconic Italian Vogue Editor


    Following a screening of the documentary Franca: Chaos and Creation, the audience was treated to a post-film Q&A moderated by School of Fashion Executive Director Simon Ungless. Photo by Bob Toy.

    With her petite frame, big blue eyes and mane of wavy blonde hair, long-time Italian Vogue Editor-in-Chief Franca Sozzani possessed a delicate beauty until she died last year at age 66. The subject of the documentary Franca: Chaos and Creation—directed by her son, Francesco Carrozzini—may have looked fragile. But the woman who revolutionized fashion publishing during her 28-year tenure at the iconic magazine was no china doll. 

    On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion and the Italian Cultural Institute co-presented a screening of Franca: Chaos and Creation at the fittingly elegant Castro Theatre. The event kicked off the pre-opening of the recent New Italian Cinema festival.

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    IAD Students Create Innovative Installation for DIFFA Fundraiser


    Pictured (L-R): Michael Berge’, Moegi Hara and Hairi Chen. Photo by Bob Toy.

    On the evening of November 16, music pulsated and a strobe light bathed the walls of a spacious event room at the W Hotel San Francisco in a swirling sea of neon purple, blue and pink. The fun nightclub-like setting was the site of a fundraiser for an organization with a serious mission, the San Francisco chapter of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA). Proceeds from the event support UCSF’s HIV Clinic Ward 86 at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

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    Exhibit Shines a Light on JEM's Bright Past, Present and Future


    Deanna Wardley poses next to her work on display at Past, Present, Future II. Photo by Bob Toy.

    On the evening of Nov. 2, suite 105 at Academy of Art University’s Cannery Galleries buzzed with School of Jewelry and Metal Arts (JEM) students, faculty and guests. They mingled and munched on snacks while perusing an array of wearable and decorative art during a reception that kicked off Past, Present, Future II, the second installment of an exhibition that debuted last year. The show continues the celebration of JEM’s rich history by showcasing exceptional work from current and former students. 

    “Jewelry has been part of the school for a long, long time,” said Charlene Modena, executive director of JEM. “We have this wonderful legacy and I wanted to honor that by bringing in work from the people who are part of it. Things have changed a lot in the world of art and technology, so we also wanted to show works made using lasers and 3-D printing. We teach traditional and new techniques but we’re always focused on contemporary outcomes.”

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    Behind 'Academy's Got Talent'

    Communication and trust are key to pulling off a successful school-wide talent show


    (L–R) Jacoby Barragan, Pre-Franz Dominick, Donte Burney, Gazmine Griffin and Lada Kondarakhina. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Academy of Art University’s student-produced and hosted Academy’s Got Talent has been showcasing the school’s wider scope of talented individuals, from singers and musicians to dancers and DJs. But for all the talent seen in front of the camera, there’s so much more behind the scenes. 

    It takes a well-oiled machine to put on a production of any magnitude. School of Communications & Media Technologies (COM) Director Jan Yanehiro and Associate Director Steve Kotton know this all too well, which is why Academy’s Got Talent is run by the school’s COM 420 class: In-Depth Project: Studio Entertainment Series.

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    Creating 'Coco'

    He may not have shed any tears, but Daniel Arriaga was clearly emotional as he talked about his full-circle journey from a wide-eyed Academy of Art University student to now a senior director at Pixar Animation Studios. 

    “This is a real dream come true to be back here at my school,” Arriaga said. “To be able to stand here is really the moment I can say ‘I made it.’”

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    Humor and Poignancy Meld in School of Acting's Production of 'This'


    In the chair: Roman Reyes (Tom) and Tiffani Williams (Marrell). On the sofa: Carlos Carrillo (Jean Pierre); Zoe Foulks (Jane) and Mario Mazzetti (standing). Photo by Bob Toy.

    At first glance, the lives of the four smart, urbane college friends in Academy of Art University’s School of Acting’s recent production of This look as bright as the lights of New York City, the play’s setting. But as Melissa James Gibson’s Obie award-winning play unfolded at the 620 Sutter Street Theatre, the audience quickly grasped that wasn’t the case. Teetering on the brink of middle-age, none of the characters are thrilled with the view. The play brims with witty dialogue that drew lots of laughs from the audience. But the more serious notes of disappointment and regret that permeate This were equally compelling.

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    Photography Student Relishes Opportunity From Red Bull

    Chris in action

    Academy of Art University School of Photography student Chris Dirker shooting Red Bull's Heavy Water event. Photo courtesy of Red Bull.

    The world’s best paddle-boarders tackled the Pacific Ocean’s most-challenging waves for the second annual Red Bull Heavy Water event and Chris Dirker was on the frontlines documenting it. A School of Photography student at the Academy of Art University, Dirker was selected out of 20 submitted portfolios to shoot the race alongside Red Bull’s own professional photographers.

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    'Six Degrees' Explores Identity and Connections Between Strangers at Sutter Theatre

    Six Degrees of Separation, the 1990 hit play by John Guare, explores the idea that all people are more closely connected than we might imagine. Picture a long line of strangers at a concert or movie. According to the theory, if you were to walk down that line and count off no more than six people, you’d meet someone you were linked to in some way. Six Degrees also  examines identity and how we respond when someone we think is a certain type of person proves to be someone entirely different. Academy of Art University’s School of Acting (ACT) is currently performing a two-week run of Guare’s thought-provoking satire at Sutter Theatre.

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    The Brothers Franco Discuss the Making Of 'The Disaster Artist'


    Dave Franco and James Franco in The Disaster Artist. Photo by Justina Mintz. Courtesy of A24.

    James Franco’s new film, The Disaster Artist, opened in San Francisco on Fri, Dec. 1. Based on the book of the same name, Franco directed, produced and starred in the film, alongside his younger brother Dave Franco.

    The film follows the life of Hollywood outcast Tommy Wiseau (James) and disastrous production of his film The Room alongside his best friend Greg Sestero (Dave). Previously the brothers starred in a Funny or Die series, but this is their first time appearing on the big screen together.

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    Managing the Creation of Stories

    Film producer Chris Moore shares the story of his journey through Hollywood with MPTV students and staff


    Film producer Chris Moore, in conversation with MPTV Executive Director Jana Memel, speaks to students about his experiences in Hollywood on Oct. 30. Photo by Bob Toy.

    During his visit to the School of Motion Pictures & Television at the Academy of Art University (MPTV), producer Chris Moore hoped to deliver a heavy dose of reality to his audience. 

    Mostly made up of MPTV students and faculty, the Good Will Hunting and American Pie producer, who received a Best Picture Oscar nomination this past year for Manchester By The Sea, spoke at length with Executive Director Jana Memel about his impromptu beginnings in production and film.

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    Bringing the Community Together

    More than 400 pieces of art were on display at the annual fine art auction


    Guests take part in the live auction, emceed by Raul Castro, at this year's Faculty + Alumni Fine Art Auction. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Like every year, conversations at the 22nd Annual Faculty + Alumni Fine Art Auction flowed as easily as the wine. The afternoon sun poured into The Cannery plaza on Saturday, Nov. 4, as guests trickled into the gallery to admire over 400 pieces of art from abstract to contemporary realism. Beneath the laughs and everyday conversations, however, was an underlying emphasis on the importance of supporting the arts community and emerging artists.

    “The primary purpose of starting this 22 years ago was to raise money for our students,” said Craig Nelson, executive director of painting and printmaking for the School of Fine Art at Academy of Art University. With the support of Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens, and the assistance of Serita Sangimino and Dana Sornstein, the auction has grown to its current stature.

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    Living One's Dream

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    Raffaela Lan Pellegrini. Photo by Roberto Palermo, professional photographer, Florence, Italy.

    Raffaela Lan Pellegrini completed her B.F.A. in painting with a double minor in etching and art history at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze. This school was founded in 1784 as a result of a reformation of the former Accademia delle Arti Disegno, founded in 1563 by Cosimo I dei Medici. Pellegrini’s B.F.A. degree was followed by a year and a half specialization at the private international printmaking school Il Bisonte, also in Florence.

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    Success Follows Animation and Illustration Instructor Jeff Bedrick From the Classroom to the Film Festival Circuit


    A matte painting Jeff Bedrick completed for Shrek 2. Image courtesy of Jeff Bedrick.

    Multimedia artist and Academy of Art University instructor Jeff Bedrick’s creative talents are not confined to a single arena. Bedrick’s interdisciplinary success stems from his ability to utilize a fine arts background in support of his work in illustration, animation and motion graphics, and his commitment to creating and communicating current, engaging course content to students in both physical and digital classrooms.

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    Sergio Lima Opens Landscape Architecture's Fall 2017 Speaker Series


    Photo by Alex Madison.

    Tucked away on the third floor of The Cannery in Fisherman’s Wharf, students of the School of Landscape Architecture (LAN) at Academy of Art University got a first-hand look into the complexity of international landscape design and its significance to the people around it.

    Sergio Lima, a professional landscape architect and an instructor for the Academy’s LAN program, opened up about working on two major projects in Dubai at the first installment of the Fall 2017 Speaker Series on Oct. 12.

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    School of Acting’s 'This' explores friendships and infidelity

    The five young actors in Academy of Art University’s upcoming production of This, might not seem to have much in common with their older characters in the Obie award-winning play by Melissa James Gibson. This revolves around four long-time, seemingly successful friends—and one new acquaintance—on the cusp of middle age who are having some regrets about the paths they’ve followed. When two of the characters commit adultery, all of them must examine their friendships and their lives.

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    Five Questions With 'Lady Bird' Writer/Director Greta Gerwig


    Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig on the set of Lady Bird. Photo by Merie Wallace. Courtesy of A24.

    Greta Gerwig has found what she loves doing the most in her field of work: Directing. “It’s the happiest I’ve ever been,” Gerwig shared during the San Francisco stop of the press tour for Lady Bird, her solo directorial debut.

    The film, also written by Gerwig, follows a Sacramento-based high school senior Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who goes by the self-given name of Lady Bird, and is ready to fly the coop, so to speak, for college on the East Coast. Throughout the course of the school year, the headstrong Lady Bird deals with many of the things people go through as teenagers, from experiencing her first love to having a falling out with her best friend along with regular back and forth arguments with her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), an overworked nurse. Powered by stand-out performances from Ronan and Metcalf, Lady Bird is a relatable coming-of-age film, that unfolds beautifully on-screen, dealing with the everyday frustrations and realizations of growing up.

    Gerwig, who received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Frances Ha and was most recently on the big screen in 20th Century Women and Jackie, is already receiving well-deserved Oscar buzz for Lady Bird. Academy Art U News sat down with the actress, writer and director to find out more about her much-lauded film, including how the mother-daughter chemistry developed between Ronan and Metcalf and what she found to be the most rewarding aspect of making Lady Bird.

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