USD Magazine Spring 2013
t h e r e ' s p l e nt y o f a r t wo r l d h e r e i n s an d i e g o , p l e nt y o f i nt e r a c t i on r i g h t h e r e a t u s d .” — Nate Vaughan ’11 “
The Department of Art, Architecture + Art History, for one, is at a seminal moment in its development. Now at the end of a five-year academic plan — the first strategic plan for the department — faculty and students are reaping the rewards of a discipline energized by new directions. Bring in a renowned scholar in Chinese and Thai art? Check. Add an acclaimed printmaker to the faculty? Check. Add a full major in architecture? Check. When the academic plan was implemented in April 2007 under the direction of Department Chair Can Bilsel, 52 students were art majors; 31 in visual arts and 21 in art history. In the spring of 2012, art majors had more than doubled to 113; 47 in visual arts, 22 in art history and an astounding 44 in architecture, which was approved as a major just two years ago, in February 2010. Beyond the rise in the number of students, the unequivocal hallmarks of the program are that it is student- centered, individually focused and endlessly collaborative. “Instead of coming up with goals outside of the stu- dents and then trying to mold the students to that cur- riculum, we shape the curriculum to the individual needs of the student,” explains Bilsel, who adds that the archi- tecture major resulted directly from student interest. “This is very important in visual arts, because every student is different, and their talents and interests are different.” The faculty make it their business to get to know each student’s strengths, from the junior review, when students
For his senior thesis, he is transforming this 45-year- old van into a mobile exhibition space that also serves as a social sculpture, where artists can mount a show and then take it into the community, perhaps even use it as a portable artist-residence-studio with an added trailer. “We are talking about this idea of creating your own art world, about how to make a living in the future by doing what we love,” explains Olivas. As is typical of the Department of Art, Architecture + Art History, he’s not working on this monster proj- ect alone. Initial funding came through a Keck Faculty Fellowship — which funds scholarly mentoring projects — under Assistant Professor Allison Wiese, as well as an Associated Students grant. The inspiration and sweat equity are courtesy of friends and fellow artists like Jake Zawlacki, senior humanities and art history major, who was elbow-deep in the engine with Olivas the night before. As the conversation turns to the exclusive New York art world, Nate Vaughan ’11 steps forward from the adjoining wood shop, where he’s hand-crafting a table to be used at a baked goods and pour-over coffee fundraiser for the project. “The art world is so globalized now, you can be anywhere, even in San Diego,” says Vaughan, one of 40 working studio artists at Space 4 Art in the East Village. “There’s plenty of art world here, plenty of interaction.” In fact, there’s plenty right here at USD.
Students Rafal Kopacz, Noé Olivas and Jake Zawlacki (above left to right); Adjunct Assistant Professor Bill Kelly and Assistant Professor Allison Wiese (center).
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