The launch of UC Berkeley’s new academic year was a study in contrasts. We welcomed thousands of brilliant and energetic students to our campus — and staged a human choreographic feat that broke a Guinness World record. As part of Golden Bears orientation, A+D introduced students to dozens of creative organizations — meeting hundreds of students offline and enticing 200,000 views off line thanks to our Snap Chat tour of the creative campus. In the midst of this welcome, we also endured a spectacle that was far less imaginative, if also terribly threatening. The events that threatened to take over the campus ended in a fizzle, but not before our community was surrounded physically and virtually by news camera, expensive security, and volatile social media.
At A+D, we resolved to put our attention elsewhere and to offer alternate forms of public assembly. We offered the first of eleven exciting creative gateway courses for new students and replenished our Made at Gallery with more creative capstone achievement from our advanced students. We created more opportunities for intergenerational dialogue with free and open public programming-- A+D Wednesdays explored the Curation of art, performance, and science with an amazing roster of visiting lectures. Meanwhile, our A+D Mondays series on Public (Re)Assembly offered packed crowds a taste of the people and ideas that most compel the Berkeley faculty and students; we considered the role of creativity, new technologies, and public good with brilliant speakers like Arlie Hochschild, Tania Brugeura, Frank Foer, Kimberly Drew, Dacher Keltner, Michael Rock, and more. Throughout the semester, the entire campus was brimming with events, exhibitions, performances, screenings, and lectures that showed the human imagination in action. And we sustained that commitment even as our regional community endured the devastation of the North Bay fires. Many of our colleagues, friends, and family members were evacuated and had to come to terms with significant loss. True to form, this was also a time of radical generosity as our community rallied to support each other in myriad ways. At A+D, we were particularly moved when Cal alums Gina Pell, Dave Pell, Annie Galvin (and Eric Rewitzer) raised and matched over $100,000 by donating all proceeds of 3 Fish Studios art sales to North Bay disaster relief. Time and again, we see Berkleey students, alums, staff, faculty and community members committed to using their creativity to advance the greater good.
This is the Berkeley we know. Berkeley is a space of energy, diversity, commitment, and breathtaking creativity for students and life-long learners. Indeed, this is the environment that educated three recipients of the MacArthur “genius” fellowship this year in visual arts, performing arts, and literature. Yuval Sharon re-imagines the operatic form in site-specific installations, distributing players and participants in novel interactions across city streets. Trevor Paglen joins a photographic practice with a geographic imaginary, bringing hidden state surveillance systems to visibility. Viet Thanh Nguyen's magnificent novels dramatize the effects of the Vietnam War on the everyday lives of Vietnamese Americans, altering our national narratives and provoking all citizens to re-imagine daily interaction across difference.
After a fall semester of creativity and resilience, we look forward to a spring semester of continued engagement, with more public programming, courses, artistic experiences, and community partnerships. Scroll down below to find more excitement ahead as well as our growing roster of student resources and community offerings. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us here on Social media. Watch our free and accessible A+D video archive for renewed and continued enrichment.
Once again, this is the Berkeley we know. This is the educational environment in which future artists, designers, thinkers, and innovators will grow. This is the Berkeley that we are resolved to sustain, dynamize, and fortify for the future.