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Letter from Otis

Looking Toward Otis’s Next 25 Years—and Beyond

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Otis College’s Ahmanson Hall and Goldsmith campus by JuanTallo.com.

Otis College’s Ahmanson Hall and Goldsmith campus by JuanTallo.com.

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Last spring, when editing the story of Otis College’s move from MacArthur Park to Westchester 25 years ago, I was thinking of all the ways the College is forging ahead with renewed energy  post-COVID-19 closure. There’s a palpable sense of optimism and change in the hallways, classrooms, and the Commons that goes beyond our physical return to campus.

I recently spoke with President Charles Hirschhorn about this energy, which he framed around several priorities for him and academic leadership: adapting our digital curricula to better prepare students for careers in the creative economy; growing opportunities for the Otis Design Lab; and broadening our reach to underrepresented students who want to pursue an art and design education at Otis. You can learn more about these efforts in my story here

Writer Matt Stromberg wrote about another reason behind the dynamic energy that has re-emerged on campus: the reunification of the MFA and BFA Fine Arts programs with the opening of new MFA studios in the Bronya and Andy Galef Center for Fine Art on the Goldsmith campus, which just debuted with the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. Previously, the MFA Fine Arts program was housed in Culver City, but with this move, “The synergy that our students can create by being in the same studio spaces and actively exchanging ideas will be endless,” Provost Jiseon Lee Isbara says in the piece, which you can read here

And with the holiday season upon us, there is no better time than now to shine a light on our Toy Design program, which is celebrating 25 years of shaping the toy market. To highlight this milestone, Lisa Butterworth explores the many steps involved in bringing a successful toy to market. As her story outlines, the Toy Design program has spent over two decades preparing students for success in this exciting, thriving industry. You can read the story here

Lastly, with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in public spaces, it’s been a great time to experience all of the new art and design surrounding us, especially works by Otis alumnx and faculty. Joan Takayama-Ogawa is the subject of this issue’s The Otis Interview, in which she discusses her current survey show at the Craft in America Center. “All my work is beauty held in check with difficult content, such as financial disasters, the dot com and subprime lending market busts, and now COVID—all done up in beauty and sensuous glazes. I just can’t help it,” Takayama-Ogawa says of her work. Check out her show, which runs through December 3, and read her interview here.   

The five Alumnx Spotlights in this issue also feature artists whose work has been recently exhibited, is currently being exhibited, or will be exhibited in the new year. Please take a look at these timely Spotlights here, and support Otis alumnx who are sharing their work with the world. (You can also find more updates on what Otis alumnx and faculty have been up to in this issue’s Class Notes and Faculty Notes sections. And don’t forget to check out Five x Five for more ideas on how to support the Otis Community.)

Happy Fall!

Anna Raya, Editorial Director