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Introducing Grid at Otis College, the New Alumnx and Friends Online Publication

The COVID-19 pandemic and issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are explored in the launch issue. 

On Friday, October 6, Otis College launched Grid at Otis College, an online publication for Otis’s community of alumnx, students, faculty, staff, and friends. From its location in the heart of Los Angeles—the creative capital of the 21st century—artists and designers have created in a spirit of problem-solving and innovation throughout Otis College’s 102-year history. The purpose of Grid is to illustrate this community’s accomplishments with imaginative, thought-provoking storytelling. 

As President Charles Hirschhorn and Provost Jiseon Lee Isbara wrote for the launch issue, “[Grid] debuts at an extraordinary time in the College’s history. Storytelling is more important than ever, and we hope that Grid will remind the Otis Community what makes it special and unique in the world.”

The two main themes that are explored in the launch issue of Grid are the COVID-19 pandemic and issues of racism and representation that have taken hold in earnest across the country and at Otis since the summer. Heather John Fogarty (’18 MFA Writing) spoke to several instructors about how they adapted their classrooms for online learning this fall—once local health guidelines restricted in-person classes—and some of the breakthroughs they and their students have made in creating and staying connected during the pandemic. Karissa Lake, Otis’s Social Media Coordinator, interviewed alumnx Noah Humes (’17 BFA Communications Arts, Illustration), Aaron Gonzelez (’19 BFA Communication Arts), and Patsy Pitts (’18 BFA Fine Arts) about the Black Lives Matter-related murals they created over the summer, and their process for creating art in public spaces. Editorial Director Anna Raya talked to Vice-President of Human Resources and Development, Karen D. Hill, about the diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy at Otis, and her role in establishing the newly-formed DEI Council and helping to recruit the College’s first-ever DEI executive. There’s also a recap of Otis’s first-ever “Race & The Creative Economy” virtual forum, which took place on October 22 as a preview to next spring’s release of the 2021 Otis Report and the Creative Economy. During the virtual event, creatives from several sectors, including alumnx Maurice Harris (’05 BFA Fine Arts), discussed how to open up more opportunities for BIPOC artists and designers.

There also are spotlights on new work by five alumnx—Darel Carey (’16 BFA Fine Arts), Teresa Flores (’13 MFA Public Practice), Nikkolos Mohammed (’13 BFA Fine Arts), Hayley Quentin (’08 BFA Fine Arts), and Alison Saar (’81 MFA Fine Arts)—who shared the inspiration behind recent projects. For them, the pandemic and this period of social unrest has been woven into their creative process. 

Throughout Grid is the use of the term alumnx to refer to Otis College BFA, MFA, and Extension graduates, singular and plural, marking the move to a non-binary, gender-neutral term that aligns with the College’s values of inclusion and representation. 

The Communications and Marketing department of the College encourages the Otis Community to submit story ideas for future issues using this form, and for alumnx to share their updates here for the new Class Notes section of the site. 

To read the launch issue of Grid at Otis College please visit this link