Events
  • Guthrie Lonergan was born in 1984 in Los Angeles. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006.

  • Margo Victor

    Sep 29| Lectures
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    Margo Victor lives and works in Los Angeles, California and received her BFA at the California Institute of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited at Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Happy Lion in Chinatown, Los Angeles, California; Cirrus Gallery in Los Angeles; Elizabeth Dee Gallery in New York.

  • Shila Khatami

    Oct 04| Lectures
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    Shila Khatami has had solo exhibitions at:
    Autocenter in Berlin, Kunstverein Dillingen, 
    Galerie Samy Abraham in Paris, 
    Galerie Susanna Kulli in Zurich, 
    Clages in Cologne and Treize in Paris.
    Group exhibitions include:
    “00ooOO - holes, dots, balls“ with Davide Bertocchi at Hopstreet, Brussels ; 
    “Punkt-Systeme,Vom Pointilismus zum Pixel“ at the Wilhelm Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen; 
    „BYOB“ at Palais de Tokyo, Paris; 
    “Dorothea“ at Ancient & Modern, London; 
    “Ambigu“ at Kunstmuseum St. Gallen.

  • John Keene

    Oct 05| Lectures
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    John Keene is the author of the novels Annotations and Counternarratives, as well as several other works, including the poetry collection Seismosis, with artist Christopher Stackhouse, and a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst's novel Letters from a Seducer. The recipient of a Whiting Award, Keene has been a member of the Dark Room Writers Collective and a Cave Canem fellow. He has served as the managing editor of Callaloo and taught at Northwestern. He currently teaches at Rutgers University-Newark and lives in New York.

  • Leonardo Bravo is an artist, curator, and educator and the Founder of Big City Forum. Big City Forum is an interdisciplinary project designed to explore the intersection between design-based creative disciplines (Design, Architecture, Urban Planning, etc) that take into account public space and the built environment. Big City Forum facilitates the exchange of ideas through gatherings, symposiums, exhibitions, and special events that promote forward-thinking projects and the individuals at the forefront of this vision.

  • Chris Coy

    Oct 11| Lectures
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    Chris Coy is an artist and filmmaker. His work has shown at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Sundance Film Festival, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, the Netherlands Media Art Institute, and numerous international art festivals and exhibitions. He received his MFA from the University of Southern California in 2012. He is represented by Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles.

  • Professor Karen Tongson joined the USC faculty in English and Gender Studies in fall 2005. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Before coming to USC, Tongson held a University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellowship in Literature at UC San Diego, and a UC Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) Residential Research Fellowship at UC Irvine.

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Nourishing Craft

Aug 25, 2013
Tanya Aguiñiga, Product Design faculty member
Spotlight Category: Faculty
By Mimi Zeiger

 

Editor’s Note: 

Aguiñiga is one of five designers featured in the current PBS series “Craft in America: A Journey to the Artists, Origins, and Techniques of American Craft” 

Tanya Aguiñiga, Product Design faculty member, is an acclaimed textile artist, a craft activist, a sculptor, and a self-described “maker.” Her Atwater Village studio overflows with skeins of wool, yards of rope, and fabric remnants—the materials she uses to make her handcrafted accessories and furniture. Aguiñiga’s dyed rope necklaces are museum and design store staples, and the colorful, animal-like chairs and benches recently exhibited at JF Chen’s gallery charmed the crowds. She is not content to simply produce readily consumed objects, however; at the root of her work is a larger goal—the desire to build community and activism around craft. Her hope is to transform the perception of craft from a solo domestic art to a means of public engagement.

To do this, Aguiñiga weaves her own personal narrative into the history of craft. Born in Tijuana, she grew up taking a bus across the border every day to go to school in San Diego. As an undergraduate, she studied furniture design at San Diego State University, and received her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. In 1997 she became a member of the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo (BAW/TAF), a binational collective dedicated to bringing attention to the U.S/Mexico border through arts-based programming. 

“My time with BAW/TAF was the foundation for who I am today as an artist,” says Aguiñiga, reflecting on the six years she spent actively involved with the organization. “It taught me how to use tools for the first time, how to work as a collaborative, how to engage with communities, how to create work that is both personal and political, and how to produce installation and performance art. As clichéd as it sounds, BAW/TAF changed my life.”

For Aguiñiga, BAW/TAF’s influence led her to work with marginalized communities and encouraged her to consider craft a radical practice. It taught her to be both an activist and a mentor, values she instills in her students at Otis. “It’s my job to preserve this history through making something personal,” says Aguiñiga. 

To illustrate her point, she selects a heavy leather strap from a basket brimming with colors and textures. The piece is a backstrap weaving belt, worn smooth in places from use—the kind of loom used by women artisans in Chiapas, Mexico. The leather belt wraps around the weaver’s waist and is used to create tension in the loom, which is then attached to a fixed object. 

Last summer, Aguiñiga used the belt to stage an outdoor weaving performance in Beverly Hills. Dressed in traditional Mexican garments, she attached the belt first to a parking meter and then, when asked by police to move, to a tree in front of the sign reading “Welcome to Beverly Hills.” Aguiñiga’s street performance of weaving brightly colored yarn was educational and political, publicly exposing the often unseen physical labor, artistry, and technique that is required to create textiles in one of the world’s richest zip codes. “Craft has been malnourished,” she says. “The origins of the materials need to be told.”

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