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Events
  • Otis Radio: Rap Realm

    Nov 24| Special Event
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    Creative Action and the Otis Radio class present weekly broadcasts each Monday.

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    Creative Action and the Otis Radio class present weekly broadcasts each Monday.

  • Eileen Cowin

    Nov 25| Lectures
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    Eileen Cowin is an artist who sees living as a means to break boundaries, and psychology as a way to confront us with strange attitudes or to implicate us in seemingly self-imposed spatial confinements. –Art Papers April 2007 by Eve Wood

     

  • enneagram

    Nov 25| Exhibition
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    Enneagram is a group show of work by Fine Arts seniors.  Exhibting artists include Austin Mathews, David Klein, Veronica Marshall, Liliana Sanchez, So Jung Tak, Jose Zuniga, Lauren Bowering, Moshen Manzoor and Justin Wilson.  The show will open with a reception on Tuesday, November 25, 6-8 pm.

  • Objects In Crisis is a series of two-person exhibitions by students in the Photography 3 class. 

     

    Exhbition 1--November 18-22:  Greg Toothacre and Lani De Soto

    Reception: Thursday, November 20 @ 6 pm

     

    Exhibition 2--December 2-6:  Allison Mogan and Tia Chen

    Reception:  Thursday, December 4 @ 6 pm

     

    Exhibition 3--December 8-12: Yijia Liu and Cara Friedman

  • Mary Alinder

    Dec 02| Lectures
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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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