Letters Fall 2022
A Great Start to Fall 2022!
This year, Otis College proudly welcomed the largest and most diverse class in its 104-year history, with nearly 1,300 BFA and MFA students arriving from over 20 countries and 12 U.S. states. Thirty percent of our Fall class are also first-generation students. The campus is buzzing once again with students learning and creating in-person following two years of remote or hybrid instruction, and we couldn’t be happier.
Contributing to this energy are MFA Fine Arts students, who relocated to new studios on the Goldsmith campus this summer after years of being located offsite at studio spaces in Culver City. With this change, Otis College’s BFA and MFA Fine Arts programs are now housed together for the first time in over 20 years, allowing for improved access to facilities and exciting new opportunities for collaboration among the students and faculty.
The College also welcomed its first Charles White Scholarship recipient. Launched in 2021, this four-year, full-tuition scholarship is designed to increase access to an art and design education for emerging creatives from underrepresented groups. The scholarship will expand this year to include another local recipient, as well as one from anywhere in the United States.
We are both so excited for the renewed energy and sense of community we’ve felt since returning to campus this Fall, and many of the College’s new initiatives that are highlighted in this issue of GRID at Otis College. Be sure to read Anna Raya’s Letter from the Editor for the rundown of all the stories in this issue.
Until then, we wish you a great Fall and a safe winter holiday!
Charles Hirschhorn, President
Jiseon Lee Isbara, Provost
Looking Toward Otis’s Next 25 Years—and Beyond
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.)
Anna Raya, Editorial Director