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  • Sarah Manguso

    Oct 01| Lectures
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    Sarah Manguso is the author, most recently, of The Guardians: An Elegy for a Friend, named one of the top ten books of the year by Salon. Her previous book, the memoir The Two Kinds of Decay, was named an Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Sunday Book Review and short-listed in the UK for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize and long-listed for the Royal Society Winton Prize. Her other books include the story collection Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, and the poetry collections Siste Viator and The Captain Lands in Paradise.

  • Graduate Fine Arts, Visiting Artist Lecture Series presents artist, Jennifer Steinkamp.

    Thursday, October 2nd 11:15am - 12:30pm

    Graduate Studios: 10455 Jefferson Blvd Culver City CA 90230

     

  • OR GALLERY
    10455 JEFFERSON BLVD.
    CULVER CITY, CA 90232
  • Pae White

    Oct 07| Lectures
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    Pae White was born in 1963 in Pasadena, California. She lives and works in Los Angeles. She received her M.F.A. from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and her B.A. from Scripps College in Claremont, California. She also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Recent solo exhibition venues include Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne; galleria francesca kaufmann, Milan; the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand; the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; greengrassi, London; and 1301PE, Los Angeles.

  • Graduate Fine Arts, Visiting Artist Lecture Series presents artist, Paradise Garage.

    Thursday, October 9th 11:15am - 12:30pm

    Graduate Studios: 10455 Jefferson Blvd Culver City CA 90230

     
  • Jennifer Moon

    Oct 14| Lectures
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    Artist, Adventurer, and Revolutionary 

    Phoenix Rising, Part 2: Eros vs. Agape is on view now in Made in L.A. 2014 at the Hammer Museum through Sept. 7th! 
  • Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, Brazil-Maru, Tropic of Orange, Circle K Cycles, and I Hotel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and awarded the California Book Award, the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award, and the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award.

O-Tube

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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