Events
  • Otis College alumni in the New York/Tri-State area are invited to a reception welcoming visiting Otis College fashion students at Global Brands Group headquarters in the Empire State Building. Join fellow alumni to celebrate the culmination of the Fashion Design Department's annual trip to Manhattan. This special event - open to all alumni from both undergraduate and graduate departments - is a great chance to reconnect with friends, welcome new Fashion Design alumni from the Class of 2017, and meet Otis College leaders including Fashion Design Interim Chair Jill Higashi-Zeleznik.

  • In conjunction with the current exhibition Patterns Bigger Than Any of Us: Jesse Fleming / Pat O'Neill in Ben Maltz Gallery, May 7 - August 12, 2017.

    In Conversation: Jesse Fleming and Pat O'Neill, moderated by LA-based idependent curator and historian Ciara Moloney

     

    Jesse Fleming (b. 1977) is part of an emerging group of artists and technologists that examine the convergence of media art and mindfulness. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Five Car Garage; 356 Mission; and Night Gallery, all in Los Angeles, CA; and the University of Texas in Austin, TX.

    Pat O’Neill’s (b. 1939) artistic and filmmaking career spans over 50 years, and he is highly-regarded for his experiments with film and optical printing. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA; Monitor in Rome, Italy; VeneKlasen/Werner in Berlin, Germany; Quinta do Quetzal in Vidigueira, Portugal; Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, NY; and Cherry and Martin in Los Angeles, CA.

    Ciara Moloney is an independent curator, editor, and writer based in Los Angeles. She was formerly Curator of Exhibitions and Projects at Modern Art Oxford where she curated exhibitions by Barbara Kruger, Josh Kline, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Christian Boltanski and Kiki Kogelnik.

  • Amelia Gray is the author of the short story collections AM/PM, Museum of the Weird, and Gutshot, as well as the novels Threats and, most recently, Isadora, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Tin House, and VICE. She is winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, of FC2's Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. 

  • Luis J. Rodriguez was Los Angeles Poet Laureate from 2014-2016. The twenty-fifth edition of his first book, Poems Across the Pavement, won a 2015 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement. He has written fourteen other books of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and nonfiction, including the best-selling memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. Rodriguez is also founding editor of Tia Chucha Press and co-founder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in the San Fernando Valley. In 2016 Tia Chucha Press produced the largest anthology of L.A.-area poets, Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles. Rodriguez’s last memoir It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award. His latest poetry collection Borrowed Bones appeared in 2016 from Curbstone Books/Northwestern University Press.

  • Raised in Philadelphia, with roots in South Africa and Trinidad, Zinzi Clemmons’ writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Transition, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and support from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction. She is co-founder and former Publisher of Apogee Journal, and a Contributing Editor to LitHub. She teaches literature and creative writing at the Colburn Conservatory and Occidental College. Her debut novel, What We Lose, as well as a second title, are forthcoming from Viking.

  • Louise Sandhaus is a graphic designer and graphic design educator. She was previously Director of the Graphic Design Program at CalArts where she currently is faculty. Her recent book on California graphic design, Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936-1986, co-published by Metropolis Books and Thames & Hudson, has received laudatory reviews from The New York Times, The Guardian, Eye, and Creative Review. The book received the Palm d’Argent for best art book at FILAF (International Festival of Art Books and Films on Art).

  • Photo Credit: Jesse Pniak

     

    F. Douglas Brown received the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize (selected by Tracy K. Smith) for Zero to Three, published by the University of Georgia. He also co-authored the chapbook Begotten with Geffrey Davis as part of Upper Rubber Boot Book's Floodgate Poetry Series. Both a past Cave Canem and Kundiman Fellow, his poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets, The Virginia Quarterly, Bat City Review, The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Southern Humanities Review, The Sugar House Review, Cura Magazine, and Muzzle Magazine. He is co-founder and curator of un::fade::able - The Requiem for Sandra Bland, a quarterly reading series examining restorative justice through poetry as a means to address racism. Brown currently teaches English at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

O-Tube

Alex Donis ‘94 MFA, Sri Lanka

Dec 16, 2013
Spotlight Category: Alumni
Although my sister and I hadn’t traveled together since 1996, when we trekked through Nepal and India, we had heard great things about Sri Lanka, and had always wanted to travel to this primarily Buddhist country. Ever since the 2004 tsunami devastated  much of this country’s coastal region, we knew we wanted to help out through some kind of volunteer work. This led us to contact the long-standing organization Volunteers for Peace that helped organize and place us with a local school near the town of Hatton.
 
After soaking up the sun on the powdery beaches of Unawatuna, and  leopard-spotting at Yala National Wildlife Reserve, we arrived in the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country, known for its moun tainous terrain and manicured tea estates. Getting past several unanswered cell-phone calls and missed pick-up points, we arrived haphazardly at the town of Bogawantalawa. The K-12 government Tientsin Tamil School perches high above the tea plantations amidst low-flying clouds. My sister’s plan was to teach English, and I intended to teach drawing and painting.
 
The day we arrived, we met our team leader Victor, who enthusiastically greeted us with a warm embrace. He was originally  from the region but had moved to India as a boy. A group of South Korean high school and college students had arrived a week earlier to do various volunteer projects around the school. We met them in the principal’s office as they painted it a paler shade of lavender. We exchanged many a vanucam, which means hello and/or welcome in the Tamil language.
 
Later that evening, we hiked down the hill and met the local family hosts:  Kala, her husband, and their three beautiful daughters, along with grandma (whom I fell in love with) and the mischievous servant boy, Tambie. They were a gracious Tamil family who ran a local shop named ‘Sathiyas.’ Although the  accommodations weren’t exactly five-star, the early morning cold- bucket showers were warmed by Kala’s sweet smile, milk tea and delicious curries.
 
My first day of teaching was a bit of a shocker. To my surprise,  the students all stood when I entered the class and did not sit until I told them that they were allowed to do so. I’d like to try this on a particular group of Westside 9th-graders (ha!). At Crossroads School, where I teach in Santa Monica, I whine when I get 15 students in a class. Here, I faced 40 students, plus all the onlookers at the windows who wanted in on the class as soon as they saw me passing out watercolor sets. I began with my staple self-portrait lesson and had a sweet exchange with the students, translating facial parts and colors into the Tamil language. After the class was over, I was ushered to the science lab, past a group of Korean students who were doing a an outdoor mural featuring hand-holding  students in front of a globe with a ‘We love Sri Lanka banner.’ “Poor kids,” I mused. “Murals are such a pain.” 
 
I was introduced to the science teacher, a sweet lady in a bright yellow sari, and she asked me if I was a “professional artist.”  I assured her that I was, and thought to say, “Lady, please.I went to Otis!”  but I figured that wouldn’t get too far in these parts. She gestured toward the large wall at the back of the science lab,  and said she needed a mural that the students could learn from. “How ‘bout a Tamil Tiger and a Sri Lankan soldier doing a Bollywood dance together?” I thought. Probably not, Sri Lanka doesn’t need another civil war. After looking at  several science books, we agreed on the cycle of life of a tadpole turning into a frog, and the metamorphosis of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. 
 
Never having done a mural, I pulled up my knickers, tied a pencil to a long stick and thought to myself, “What would Gronkdo?  Does Kent Twitchell ask for a contract? Would Judy Chicago hold out for a press release?” Time to leave my ego at the bottom of the hill and just do the work. Besides, there was a butterfly in the making and possibly a lotus. I’d try to make Roy (Dowell, Chair of Graduate Fine Arts) and Lari (Pittman, his partner)  proud.
 
Since the Korean students had used almost all the supplies for their mural, there was very little paint left. Also, the lacquer paint and the thinner had been left out in the rain, so I had to find kerosene  and diesel fuel in order to salvage the remaining supplies. They had forgotten to leave the brushes soaking overnight in paint thinner, so I had to use some of the preschool brushes that I had brought to donate.
 
I blocked in the mural using ground-up watercolor sets mixed with the white latex paint that was used to whitewash the classrooms. We soon got the supplies straightened out, and I was off and running, with many of the students poking their heads in through the windows, sharing smiles and helping out with a few brushstrokes. Later in the week, on their last day, the Korean students gave a performance, complete with music, dance and fashion show. The Tamil students also sang and performed traditional dances. My sister and I were honored with flowered wreathes and I was repeatedly called “the greatest artist ever.” Later that  evening, we all gathered in the science lab, and the Korean students passed out many bottles of ginseng sake. 
 
During our last few days, my sister helped me with the mural, and the school  brought in in a local temple painter named Desh, who was very patient. On our last day, I completed the giant butterfly that loomed over the pond. We returned to the science lab to share our last goodbyes, hear my sister sing a few Spanish songs to the faculty, and watch “the greatest artist ever” dedicate his first mural “To the Children of Tientsen Tamil School.”   
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