Arts Division Newsletter

Arts Dean Celine Shimizu with Arts Advocacy Council member, painter Fritz Chesnut (Porter 1995), at a meet-and-greet with students and staff at the Art Department print studio on February 9, 2023.

Message from the Dean of Arts

Celine Parreñas Shimizu, M.F.A., Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Film and Digital Media

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February 15, 2023

Dear Arts Community,

In the Arts Division at UC Santa Cruz, we respect our students’ choice to pursue the arts, helping them learn to see anew, hear like never before, innovative ideas, develop craft, and actualize themselves towards a more just world. 

In early February, several hundred community members, UCSC faculty, staff and students enjoyed a joyful opening celebration for the much anticipated new Institute of the Arts and Sciences galleries. I exuberantly support this effort for a collecting and climate-controlled space on Santa Cruz's Westside to bring world class art to our region, demonstrating our campus’ care for community.


Last week we held our first Arts Advocacy Council focused on LGBTQ+ issues, lives and practices in the arts, engaging deeply with our esteemed council members and foundation trustees. I was particularly wowed by Camila Alvarado, a fourth-year undergraduate HAVC and Art major, who so movingly identified art as an instigator, finding community in her internship at the Cantú Queer Center, and HAVC pushing her to expand possibilities for herself. Fueled by our stories, our Arts Advocacy Council champions our work together at UCSC Arts in new and needed ways.

The very talented students in the African American Theater Arts Troupe will present the play Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau, opening on Friday, February 24 and running through March 5 at the UCSC Theater Arts Second Stage. This poignant play addresses education within racism in ways that matter more than ever! I hope you don’t miss the latest by the oldest African American theater group in the UC system. AATAT itself creates pipelines within our region for the past 32+ years!


Our upcoming Arts Division Retreat on March 3rd joins our faculty and staff members in the Hay Barn to bring together our community, hear new faculty research, honor this year’s Arts Advocate Gina Dent, associate professor of Feminist Studies, and participate in a workshop focused on DEI in everyday life led by Sara Blanchard and Misasha Suzuki Graham who host and produce the Dear White Women podcast and just published Dear White Women: Let's Get (Un)comfortable Talking about Racism. Our keynote speaker, UCSC alumna and author Kate Schatz co-wrote Do the Work: An Anti-Racist Activity Book. I look forward to doing great things together as we create a more inclusive world in the Arts!

On March 11, the Arts Division is hosting Black Students of California United on our campus. We are most eager to welcome 400+ African American student leaders who are visiting UC Santa Cruz for their annual leadership conference. Our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is crucial at this time. The Chronicle of Higher Education just reported the push to dismantle DEI in public education through vigorous state legislation efforts. We are stronger than these attempts to tear down what we are building. 

The Arts at UC Santa Cruz empowers students to pursue knowledge so they may understand and change our conditions as the strongest possible artists and scholars because we know art is stronger and better because of inclusion.

With gratitude, 

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email me:

Photo: Carolyn Lagattuta

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People in the Arts

Featured Undergraduate Student

Chanel Zaldaña

Chanel Zaldaña, Sociology Major/Latin American Studies Minor

Sociology major Chanel Zaldaña never dreamed that when she first came to UC Santa Cruz that she’d be pursuing acting, but now she’s taken the lead role as Nya in the upcoming African American Theater Art Troupe’s (AATAT) production of Pipeline that opens on February 24.

Read More

Featured Graduate Student

Kevin Corcoran

M.F.A Candidate

Environmental Art and Social Practice

Unfinished Objects in the Field is a newly published audio piece by Kevin Corcoran, a first-year M.F.A. candidate in the Environmental Art and Social Practice program. The piece is featured in the online biannual publication Lateral Addition. Assembled from sound recordings related to Point Reyes, the Mount Tamalpais watershed, and the San Francisco Bay shore, the work expands a set of questions about listening and documenting through an energetic approach to field recording. This approach builds on Corcoran’s background as a percussionist and involves interacting with places and objects in states of transformation with transference between site and studio.

Featured Faculty

Patty Gallagher

Professor, Theater Arts

Patty Gallagher was recently featured in Lookout Santa Cruz for her current starring role in the Jewel Theater production of “Little Heart,” a play by poet and author Irene O’Garden. It’s a heady role, but if anyone in the Santa Cruz theater ecosystem is prepared for it, it’s Gallagher, a longtime faculty member in the Theater Arts Department at UC Santa Cruz and a familiar face to fans of Santa Cruz Shakespeare.

Read More

Featured Staff

Meredith Dyer

Department Manager

History of Art and Visual Culture

From Lima, Peru, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City to Florida and Washington, DC, Meredith Dyer, the department manager for the History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC) Department at UC Santa Cruz, has lived a culturally rich and fascinating life.

Read More

Featured Alumnus

Akiva Schaffer

Film, 2000

Comedian, actor, writer, and film director Akiva Schaffer is a member of the comedy group The Lonely Island along with childhood friend and fellow UCSC alumnus, comedian/actor Andy Samberg. Schaffer has directed, produced, acted and written several films and television programs including Saturday Night Live, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and PEN15. His many accolades include winning the Emmy Award and the Writers Guild of America Award, and he’s been nominated for a Grammy Award.

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Happening and In the News

Arts Division to Break Ground on New State-of-the-Art Social Documentation Lab

The Division of the Arts will soon begin construction of a world-class production and post-production facility in support of its Social Documentation (SocDoc) M.F.A. program.

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Student Meet and Greet with Alumnus and Artist Fritz Chesnut

Celebrated painter Fritz Chesnut very generously accepted the invitation from students for a “meet and greet” that was advertised throughout the division. After the February 9th Arts Council gathering, he met with students at the UCSC printmaking shop and the Eduardo Carrillo gallery. Printmaking students Nami Lee and Nick Uglow showed him their work and students like Psi Padhya and Matthew Kim asked him questions about his own experience as an Arts alumnus. One student, Alex Yu, gave him a tour of their new art exhibit. After this, the students joined Fritz and Dean Celine in the Dean's Conference Room in DARC for the formal meet-and-greet session with dessert and an informal Q&A. The students felt that his dedication to the Arts and to their success was inspiring and motivating.

Arts Division Alumni in SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Los Angeles

SPRING/BREAK Art Show is an internationally recognized exhibition platform using underused, atypical and historic New York City exhibition spaces to activate and challenge the traditional cultural landscape of the art market, typically but not exclusively during Armory Arts Week. The Fourth Annual Los Angeles exhibition will be held on February 15th–19th at Skylight, Culver City.

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The Arts Division Will Celebrate with Alumni at ESMoA in March

UCSC Arts Division alumni will gather together at ESMoA (the Experimentally Structured Museum of Art) in El Segundo on Sunday, March 5, 2023 mingle with fellow Banana Slugs, hear from Dean Celine about the latest from the Arts Division, and explore TIME, an exhibit by a two-time Academy Award-winning film production designer and art director Rick Carter (Kresge ’74, Art) who received the Arts Distinguished Banana Slug in 2022.  

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Nicole Jefferson Asher Speaks with UCSC Students

On February 10, the UCSC Art Division’s Arts Professional Pathways hosted an event with renowned producer and writer Nicole Jefferson Asher with more than 50 students in attendance. Dean Celine introduced the panelists while student moderator, Chanel Zaldana, and faculty moderator, Michael Chemers, conversed with Nicole about her artistic and professional journeys in Hollywood. The Q&A portion of the event was a great success as well with many students asking Nicole questions and advice about breaking into the industry, the artistic process, and diversity and inclusion in the industry. 

micha cárdenas wins the Anonymous Was a Woman Award

micha cárdenas, Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Performance, Play & Design, recently won the Anonymous Was a Woman award, which goes to women-identifying artists over the age of 40 who are at “a critical junction in their career.” Each of the 15 winners will receive $25,000.

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Celine Parreñas Shimizu as Keynote at UCLA Thinking Gender on 2/23/24

This year’s Thinking Gender Conference will feature interactive presentations and workshops throughout the day with Celine Parreñas Shimizu, T.L. Cowan, and Jas Rault. The theme for this year’s conference is “Transforming Research: Feminist Methods for Times of Crisis and Possibility.” Shimizu’s groundbreaking work in gender, race, and sexuality, as well as her bridging of theory and practice through film production make her an ideal interlocutor for the kind of dialogue we look forward to having at Thinking Gender 2023. Shimizu will present “Creativity in the Face of Devastation: Methodologies of Research and Practice Across Inequality.” Her film, The Celine Archive (2020), will also be screened with a Q&A afterward. The conference will take place at UCLA Center for the Study of Women|Barbra Streisand Center.

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Irene Lusztig, Professor, Film and Digital Media Curates Essential Work

Irene Lusztig has curated a newly-released online program, ESSENTIAL WORK for UK-based artist streaming platform Cryptopfiction (started by filmmaker Mania Akbari. It features Amy Reid’s feature film Long Haulers, made with women long haul truckers.The program also includes another UCSC-adjacent film, FDM alumna Emily Chao’s short Chive Pockets and a few other old and new feminist works about labor.

Laurie Palmer’s New Book The Lichen Museum Recently Published

Professor, Art Department, and Co-Director of the Environmental Art and Social Practice Program, Laurie Palmer has a new book that has recently been published by University of Minnesota Press. Entitled The Lichen Museum, it explores how the physiological characteristics of lichens provide a valuable template for reimagining human relations in an age of ecological and social precarity.

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Amy Mihyang Ginther’s Stages of Reckoning Now Available

Amy Mihyang Ginther's (Assistant Professor, Acting, Voice,Text) edited volume, Stages of Reckoning: Antiracist and Decolonial Actor Training is now available in all formats on the publisher's website and at bookstores. Stages of Reckoning is a crucial conversation about how racialized bodies and power intersect within actor training spaces. Centering actor trainers of color to acknowledge their personal experience and professional pedagogy as theory, this volume illuminates actionable ideas for text work, casting, voice, consent practices, and movement while offering decolonial approaches to current Eurocentric methods. Ginther co-wrote the Afterword with UCSC undergraduate Celia Espinosa and her chapter features UCSC undergraduate/graduate student, Rey Cordova.

Elizabeth Stephens Plays with Fire

Last summer, Annie Sprinkle and Professor Elizabeth Stephens (Art) produced and performed a wedding to fire in Boulder Creek and hosted a Fire Symposium at UCSC. They filmed both for Playing with Fire, their upcoming documentary project. They’ll be hosting a three-day happening, Exploring the Earth as Lover, in New York this June and taking the show on the road to Europe later this summer.

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Graduate Students L. Gilbert and Dav Bell Awarded $20,000

Congratulations to L. Gilbert and Dav Bell, graduate students in the Environmental Art and Social Practice M.F.A. program, who were awarded a $20,000 Carbon Fund grant from the UCSC Sustainability Office for their thesis project Greenhouse. Greenhouse is an intergenerational educational space that explores the relationship between art, food, and climate justice at the UCSC Farm. The space provides opportunities for student and community-led teaching and learning experiences.

Matthew Harrison Tedford, Ph.D. Candidate, Visual Studies, HAVC Has Essay Published

Text Matters published an essay by Matthew Harrison Tedford in its most recent issue, "The Ecological Future." The essay, "Past Conditional Subjectivities: Enacting Relationships with the Non-Human in the Work of Ana Mendieta," examines how the work of 20th-century Cuban American performance artist Ana Mendieta challenges modernist thought that separate the human from the non-human, simultaneously calling on older ways of being and demonstrating that they never disappeared. In particular, the essay looks at how Mendieta’s Silueta and Rupestrian Sculptures series (from the 1970s and 1980s) model reciprocal and non-instrumental relationships between subjects.

Read more

Yasmine Benabdallah Wins Film Award

Yasmine Benabdallah’s (Ph.D., Film and Digital Media) film How to Reverse a Spell, the Promise of an Archive won the award for Best Experimental Short Film at Sharjah Film Platform, the Sharjah Art Foundation's film festival.

Vega Darling Wins Best Soundtrack

Vega Darling’s (M.F.A., Social Documentation) work as a music supervisor for the film Vulveeta recently won Best Soundtrack at the Texas Underground Film Festival and the soundtrack is now out on Bandcamp.

Ben Dorfan, D.M.A. Music, Holds Recital

On January 21, Ben Dorfan presented an hour-long program of original compositions, including a 25-string Gayageum work recorded by Master performer Ms. Moon, Yang-sook from Seoul, South Korea. Mr. Dorfan performed alongside UCSC alumna Dr. Kumi Uyeda in his two-piano piece Puzzle Riffs. The recital included several violin solos played by UCSC faculty Roy Malan, and additional works for cello, vibraphone, marimba, and piano, featuring guest performers Isaac Pastor-Chermak, Scott Siler, and Tony Gennaro. Special thanks go to Mr. Dorfan's thesis advisor Professor Hi Kyung Kim. This event received funding from the UCSC Music Department and a Graduate Research Fellowship.

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Maureen McGuire, Ph.D. Candidate, Visual Studies, HAVC Attends Podcasting Institute

Maureen McGuire participated in the 2023 Graduate Student Podcasting Institute hosted by the National Humanities Center and the Digital Humanities Center of San Diego State University from January 9-13, 2023. During the virtual institute, Maureen and fellow graduate students from across the United States learned more about producing a podcast. Participants of the institute also heard from Prof. Barry Lam, creator of Hi-Phi Nation, and Prof. Hannah MacGregor, co-creator of Witch, Please. By the end of the week, each group of participants produced their own 20-25 minute podcast episode.

Listen to the Podcasts

Mahshid Modares, Ph.D. Candidate, Film and Digital Media, Wins Film Award

Sanctions on the Sky, a film by Mahshid Modares, SocDoc alum and 2nd-year Ph.D. student, has won the Best Human Rights’ Film at San Francisco Arthouse Short Festival in January 2023.

Her second film, Sanctions on Us, reached the semi-finalist at Seattle Filmmaker Awards in December 2022.

Dean Celine Keynote Speaker at American Council on Education, March 10

ACE NorCal Women’s Network Conference will be focused on Women in Higher Education: Playing the Game in a Changing Landscape, with a keynote address by Dean Celine Parreñas Shimizu. This one-day, in-person conference features interactive skill-building sessions, networking, and a panel of women presidents.

Read More & Register


Lakas Shimizu Memorial Scholarship Award for Students in the Arts

Lakas Shimizu was a gentle warrior, a deeply caring, generous, and empathetic young man who had a gift for drawing people together. Lakas unexpectedly passed away at the tender age of eight. In his memory, his family—parents Dan Shimizu and Celine Parreñas Shimizu, brother Bayan Shimizu, and grandfather Robert Shimizu—established a scholarship at UC Santa Cruz. The scholarship honors Lakas’ spirit by supporting students in the arts who engage in artistic and creative scholarly practice, and who organize people together to make an impact for inclusion and equity.

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Deans’ and Chancellor’s Undergraduate Awards & the Steck Award

The Deans and Chancellor of UC Santa Cruz wish to recognize excellence in research and creativity among undergraduate students as evidenced through projects and theses performed in the normal pattern of academic activity at UCSC. The online application for the 2023 Deans' and Chancellor's Undergraduate Awards will open Monday, February 13, 2023. All 2023 applications must be completed and submitted online by Sun, March 19, 2023.

Deans’ Undergraduate Awards

Dean's Awards are granted to 50 of the most excellent undergraduate research theses or projects (10 from each academic division) completed at UCSC during the academic year. Each Dean's award project will receive $100 for outstanding achievement in their division. Winners of the Dean's awards will be announced by the end of April 2023. 

Chancellor’s Undergraduate Awards

Fifteen Chancellor’s Awards are granted to the most outstanding top three theses or projects from each division's Deans' Awardees. Each Chancellor's Award project will receive an additional $500. Winners of the Chancellor's awards will be announced by the beginning of May 2023. 

Steck Award

The Steck Award will recognize the most outstanding research project chosen from the 15 Chancellor’s Awardees. This student (or team) will receive (or share) an award of $2,000 and the winner's mentor will receive an award of $1,000. In addition, the winning research project will be bound and copies given to the student(s), the research supervisor, the UC Santa Cruz Library, and the Steck Family whose generous contributions have made this award possible.

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Internships and Living Expenses Funding Available

The Arts Professional Pathways Internship Scholarship supports successful student application and placement in internships by providing resources, events, and individual advising sessions to Arts students seeking internships. Students who are accepted into internships are then eligible to apply for the Arts Division Internship Scholarship Fund that supports living expenses during the period of the internship. Funding averages $1,000 per month, for the duration of the internship and are available on a first come basis as funds are available.

Chancellor's Undergraduate Internship Program (CUIP)

Apply by 2/20

CUIP provides full-time students the opportunity to learn valuable professional skills while supporting student resources. Interns work within programs and departments throughout the university, and attend a two-unit leadership seminar during the academic school year. With direct support from mentors, they will conceive, develop, and execute a project applicable to their post. Interns earn either a $4,000 or $8,000 scholarship for the academic year, depending on the number of hours the student contributes. Log in to Handshake and enter "CUIP 23-24" in the job search bar.

Earth Future Institute (EFI) Frontier Fellowships Available

EFI Frontier Fellowships are designed to support original interdisciplinary research by undergraduates on topics relevant to planning and ensuring Earth's future. Each fellowship carries a $6000 summer stipend for the student plus a $2000 fund to support research expenses and faculty honoraria. Students will start work in Spring Quarter 2023, work intensively over the summer, and submit their final reports and deliverables in Spring Quarter 2024.


The program is described at:


A downloadable announcement document giving details is at:


Students apply by submitting a complete application to by the deadline of March 1.  

The application form is at:

Join our events

See more at

February 16

Sesnon Salon:

Digital Arts and New Media (DANM)

Porter College koi pond courtyard

February 17

Troubled Waters: The Ocean as Contested Space in Surf Culture

Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz

February 24–March 5

Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau

African-American Theater Arts Troupe

Theater Arts Second Stage

March 1

Ornament and Abolition

UCSC Institute of the Arts & Sciences

100 Panetta Ave, Santa Cruz

March 3–12

Student Dance Show:

Random With A Purpose XXXI:

The commUNITY Movement

Theater Arts Mainstage

March 3

UCSC Wind Ensemble

Nathaniel Berman directs

Venue TBD

March 4

Free family opera: Cinderella

Audiences of all ages are invited to two matinee performances in English.

Venue TBD

March 4

UCSC Concert Choir

Nathaniel Berman directs

Venue TBD

March 5

Arts Alumni Event in El Segundo

Register online

Experimentally Structured Museum of Art (ESMoA)

March 8

Drop-In Figure Drawing

Baskin Visual Arts Center

March 9

UCSC Orchestra:

“Great American Ballet Music”

Bruce Kiesling, conductor

Featuring excerpts from The River, composed by Duke Ellington, and Billy the Kid: Ballet Suite

by Aaron Copland

Theater Arts Second Stage

March 10

Smoked Out

An experimental new work in three acts about the CZU Lightning Complex fires of 2020 Presented in conjunction with the DANM M.F.A. Exhibition

Digital Arts Research Center (Rm. 108)

March 11

UCSC Jazz Ensembles

Charles Hamilton directs

Theater Arts Second Stage

March 15

Concert: Improvising Across Idioms

Venue TBD

March 16

Sesnon Salon:

Art Department

Porter College koi pond courtyard

March 17

Open Studios

Baskin Visual Arts Center

March 18

UCSC Chamber Singers

Directed by Michael McGushin

venue TBD

For ticketed events, please visit

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