Summer semester is over and the grades are done. This will be the last stop on this road trip from my studio to Berkeley City College where I teach.
If you want a class, sign up for it early, because, with all the cutbacks, competition for classes is fierce.
I teach in the Multimedia Arts Department, which is the home of classes in video production, sound design, animation, game design, web, digital photography, and digital imaging. I teach web design and derive great satisfaction from it. I have taken classes in video editing and animation from fabulous teachers (Peter Freund and Isabella Larocca). But it is the digital imaging that is my first love — as you may have noticed.
Phil Meyer is one of our fabulous printroom aides and an artist in his own right. Kevin Tikker is one of the many artists who keep taking classes to have access to this equipment and community. Say what you want about the rising cost of education in California (and, yes, I think it is a despicable shame on our State). Still, you could pay hundreds to thousands of dollars in other commercially oriented schools in the Bay Area (their names shall go unmentioned here but you see them advertized on TV) to get the same education and access that students here get for a relative pittance.
And that is due to the work of Joe Doyle who with Peter Freund started the Multimedia Arts Department at BCC. Joe, whose background is in painting, took some digital art classes back in the mid 1990s. He thought the idea of using digital printing just to reproduce already existing art was a non-starter. And the Iris printers of the time were expensive and “cranky”. Publishing houses were too expensive for the garden variety artist. ( I remember that at that time to have one of my collages printed, I needed $4000.00 up front! Needless to say, it didn’t happen. )
Then around 1998 Joe found out about large format Epson printers which were relatively affordable for individuals. And using imaging software an artist could make original art — digitally. Now the cost, color quality, archivability, and the ability to print at high resolution could be in the hands of the artist. With the help of Russell Brown of Adobe, the Multimedia program at BCC took wing.
As a teacher, Joe says he watches each semester as the screen resolution and the physicality of the print become catalysts to student creativity. The tools of the digital print give the student new and effective ways to compose and work on the poetics of an image “outside the practical demands of the commercial market”.
And indeed, that is what I have always loved about this department, that, yes, there is a ton of technical stuff to learn, but the student is encouraged to explore their own visual instinct at the same time. It is my opinion that a student who wants to enter the commercial world of art in some capacity, and who is trained in the technical and the poetic and the history, is going to be a better, more creative employee than the student who only plodded through the technical and the currently stylish.
So, here are a couple of my students who have arrived early for class, sitting in front of one of Joe Doyle’s large format, canvas prints, an image that was created in a 3D program. The following are a few more random images that came from the Multimedia Department digital print room.
One of my all time favorites,
And of course:
Oola started life in a prison art project, but she started on her strange odyssey in Joe Doyle’s class.
For more links:
Time for a rest. Maybe something exciting will happen on the road to the show in Merced.