Arts Division Newsletter

Experience the Art of Change event held on May 7 at the beautiful estate of Arts Dean's Advocacy Council member Laurel Miranda. Speaking: Digital Art & New Media MFA candidate Saul Villegas; behind him, l-r: Council members An Huang Chen, Nicole Jefferson Asher, and Jenny Shimizu Risk; Dean Celine and Arts Sr. Director of Development, Ginny Hargrave. Photo by Emily Reynolds.

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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May 23, 2023

Dear Arts Community,

As the academic year closes, I am in awe of what we achieve individually and institutionally. I remember the start of my own undergrad years not knowing I was on the path to the Deanship—I was enabling opportunities for my peers as a young organizer on campus. And I remember surviving final exams as a fifth-year senior and getting shingles from stress. I remember graduating with awards as the undergraduate commencement speaker—and using the ceremony as a mustering of courage as I embarked on life. At the end of my speech, I pulled out candies from the bags under my regalia and showered the crowd with treats of gratitude for what my undergraduate education gave me. These memories contextualize how I witness in our newest graduates creativity, excitement, and hope as we celebrate them. I thank all of you, our faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and friends, for your ongoing support of our mission, our vision of excellence and equality, and the power of the arts to enrich our lives and elevate our consciousness as we send the next generation of Banana Slugs out to the world! 

We held an inspiring gathering on Sunday, May 7 at the beautiful Atherton estate of Laurel Miranda, who serves on the Arts Dean's Advocacy Council, and who generously hosted us for a very special UCSC Arts Division event so Silicon Valley can experience our “art of change” that focused on our students and faculty. The staff organized so creatively to produce a great event. We also were honored to have Chancellor Larive there with us to express her confidence in the Arts. This was a chance for all to feel arts in our “only in Santa Cruz” way, which I defined as how we operate from a place of freedom, power, courage and fearlessness in creating art and scholarship that transforms the world. We let our guests know that our Arts Division students and alumni transform institutions and ideas. And for our community, we took stock and bonded over how we are breaking new ground every day with our innovative work.

Dean Celine and Chancellor Cindy with Arts Dean’s Advocacy Council Member Laurel Miranda, our host for “The Art of Change”

As we emerge from the hardship and grief of the pandemic, we joyfully come together in person again through so many wonderful Arts Division events. The campus bustles robustly for art at night! Be sure to join us for the play Unibeauty and Her Wicked Daughters in the Mainstage through May 28 for a joyful ensemble cast and also for this year’s opera production, The Little Prince, opening on June 1 in our newly reopened Music Center Recital Hall. Have you been? It is so grand! Other highlights include the Grupo Folklórico Los Mejicas 51st Annual Spring Show: El Camino A Mi Corazón on June 3, the annual Print Sale and Open Studios on June 9, and the SocDoc annual thesis screening on June 14. There are also many more outstanding arts events not to be missed and they are all listed below. Mark your calendars and join us!


I serenade happiest congratulations to our 2023 graduates and retirees! The upcoming celebrations remind us of what we’ve accomplished and the splendid possibilities ahead. It is wonderful to witness this life transition for the next generation of Banana Slugs! When you walk into rooms, people will recognize all that you carry: the power and voice you garnered here. Remember to stay connected with us to help open the door for those behind you. I wish you all a joyful and rejuvenating summer. Please look for our next Arts Dean’s newsletter in the Fall.


Fiat Slug,

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email me:

Photos: Carolyn Lagattuta and Emily Reynolds

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People in the Arts

Featured Undergraduate Student

Sara Sotelo

Performance, Play & Design

As a history and education major with a minor in theater arts, senior Sara Sotelo is looking forward to taking time to decompress after graduation before taking the next big step of applying to graduate school for an MFA in dramaturgy or possibly an MA in history.

Read More

Featured Graduate Student

Brett Kashmere

PhD Candidate, Film & Digital Media

San Francisco Cinematheque and INCITE Journal of Experimental Media announce the release of Craig Baldwin: Avant to Live!—five years in the making. Celebrating the life work of Bay Area underground legend Craig Baldwin this 508-page publication, edited by Brett Kashmere and Steve Polta, features contributions from over 50 writers, artists, illustrators, and ideologues. The book also includes contributions from a number of people with UC Santa Cruz connections, including Rick Prelinger, Chip Lord, Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa (Distinguished Graduate Alumni 2023), Alex Johnston, and Megan Needels. 

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Featured Faculty

Nathaniel Berman

Lecturer in Music,

Conductor, Wind Ensemble and Concert Choir

Nathaniel Berman was music director of an opera performed at Herbst theater in San Francisco in March. Prospero’s Island re-envisions Shakespeare’s play The Tempest in the Falkland Islands in the 1950s, with Prospero a war criminal from Germany, trying to tie up his familial loose ends while preparing to give himself up to justice for unspeakable biological experimentation during the war. New music ensemble Ninth Planet was the instrumental ensemble, with a cast featuring Andrew Dwan (SF Opera Merola alumnus), Shawnette Sulker, Bradley Kynard, Amy Foote, and others.

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Featured Staff

Lucas Elmer Gasperik 

Sculpture and Foundry Staff

Research Associate

Art Department

As a child, Lucas Elmer Gasperik thought that pursuing an honorable profession such as being a fireman or a chef was what he should aspire to, but then art took hold of his imagination.

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Featured Alumnus

Andy Samberg

Film and Digital Media

Award-winning actor, comedian, musician, writer, and producer Andy Samberg spent his first two years of college at UC Santa Cruz from 1996-98, studying experimental film. While a student at UCSC, he worked as a ticket-taker at the Del Mar movie theater in downtown Santa Cruz. He went on to become a cast member and writer for Saturday Night Live from 2005-12, and has since starred in many films and television shows.

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Arts Happenings and In the News

Sir Isaac Julien, Distinguished Art Professor, Featured in New York Times

New York Times writer Elizabeth Fullerton covered Professor Isaac Julien’s latest exhibition, What Freedom is to Me on now at Tate Britain. It is the largest exhibition of the artist’s work ever staged in his home country. The title comes from a quote by the singer Nina Simone in a 1968 interview: “I will tell you what freedom is to me: No fear.”

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KAZU Story About AATAT Wins Edward R. Murrow Award

A feature story that originally aired on KAZU radio Sept. 21, 2022 about the African American Theater Arts Troupe, founded and directed by Don Williams, has just won a regional Edward R. Murrow award in the category of Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The Murrow awards are presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), a national organization that includes both commercial and non-commercial broadcast stations. Among the most prestigious in news, the Murrow Awards recognize local and national news stories that uphold the RTDNA Code of Ethics, demonstrate technical expertise and exemplify the importance and impact of journalism as a service to the community.

Fritz Chesnut’s Work Featured in SWELL Group Show

Art alumnus (Porter, 1995) and Arts Dean’s Advocacy Council member, Fritz Chesnut’s work is featured in SWELL, a group exhibition at the Manhattan Beach Art Center (MBAC) and Gallery 208 on now through July 2, 2023. Taking inspiration from surfing and surf culture, SWELL features work from 18 artists who begin their creative journey at the ocean and dive deep into exploration of materials, techniques, messages, and inspiration.

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Art Senior, Vanessa Murray, Completes Life Cycle Throne

Called Life Cycle Throne, Vanessa Murray recently finalized this piece that focuses on the intersectionality of nature, lineage, and transformative futures through an ecocentric lens of interactive sculpture. This work connects our relationship to nature through reclamation and ancestral acknowledgment as we navigate an alienated, capitalist world. The chair sculpture displays studies of aeonium succulents to inspire adaptation and resilience for a future filled with more sustainable practices.

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PPD Student Destiny Oliva Presented at National Conference on Undergrad Research

Destiny Oliva, majoring in Performance, Play & Design, presented a research paper in April at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire's Haas Fine Arts Center. The paper, titled Psychology of Acting Disassociation Methodology, covers a psychology-based methodology for character building. Destiny summarizes the approach saying that it "allows the actor or performer to explore their character deeply, enabling them to step into the role with a greater understanding of their character's responses and reactions. It also gives the performer a chance to differentiate between the character and the real human being." Using the acronym T.E.A.M.S. (Trauma, Empathy, Attachment Theory, Mental Health, Sociometry) she has created a tool to help guide the disassociation process while doing a deep character analysis.

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Art Major Zoë Hruby-Linstrom’s Work Selected for Dean’s 

Outstanding Research 2023 Award

Zoë Hruby-Linstrom's 2022 project, Social Ills: Narrating Contemporary Political Issues Through Oil Painting, has been selected as one of the ten outstanding undergraduate research projects in the Art's Division. Their project, completed in Spring of 2022, narrates the dynamic ideological divisions and hypocrisies in the American political theater. Utilizing oil paint as their medium, Hruby-Linstrom drew inspiration from their research as a legal studies minor with the intention of exposing the unjust practices of individuals with power in a succinct manner.

A. Laurie Palmer Presenting at

The Lichen Museum

A. Laurie Palmer, professor in the Art Department, will be presenting at The Lichen Museum: Book Talk and Walk in May at the College of the Atlantic in Maine, Daniel Tucker's Ecosocial Salon/Making Worlds Books in Philadelphia, and the Death Studies workshop at Northwestern University in Evanston.

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Professor Elizabeth Stephens Explores the Earth as Lover

Art Professor Elizabeth Stephens and her partner Annie Sprinkle are teaming up with Performance Space New York (PS122), June 14, and 16-18th, to co-produce Exploring the Earth as Lover on Manhattan's Lower East Side. This will be a multimedia happening with panels, films, performances & more. Together they will explore how to forge new relationships with the environment and social justice; engage in human/non-human collaboration; critique calcified ideologies; and create new sexualities—all through the lens of an environmentalism that is feminist, queer, sensual, sexual, posthuman, materialist, exuberant, and steeped in humor. 

Find out more and join us for this event!

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Jennifer Parker to Spearhead Climate Action Lab with Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Jennifer Parker, Art Professor and Director of the OpenLab Collaborative Research Center, will work closely with Jonathan Hicken, Executive Director, Daris Jasper and Jordan Boudreaux, Associate Directors of Community Engagement, to develop innovative art and science exhibitions, events, and community-engaged experiences to advance the priorities of California’s Climate Adaptation Strategies, especially its priority to Strengthen Protections for Climate Vulnerable Communities. Seed Funding for the new initiative was made possible by UCSC Center for Coastal Climate Resilience (CCCR).

Livia Perez’s Latest Feature Documentary at Frameline

MFA candidate, Digital Arts and New Media, Livia Perez’s new documentary, M IS FOR MOTHERS, will premiere at Frameline, the largest and longest-running LGBTQ+ film festival in the world. Livia’s third feature documentary will play on June 18th and will be available online as part of the feature documentary official selection. M is for Mothers is a touching and intimate portrait of queer motherhood. Livia Perez’s delicate filmmaking and camera work meditate on pregnancy, breastfeeding and the future of queer families in Latin America.

Michael Fischer Haagens Wins Award at Orbetello International Piano Competition

UCSC junior, Michael Fischer Haagens, pursuing a Bachelor of Music major in piano performance, is enrolled in individual piano lessons at UCSC, studying with Dr. Chia-Lin and also performs as a pianist with the UCSC Large Jazz Ensemble. In April 2023 he participated in the Orbetello International Piano Competition and was awarded 2nd prize for his performance of Aleksandr Scriabin: Valse, Op.38 and Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude in C minor, BWV 847.

Irwin 2023 Scholars Present 


This year’s Irwin Scholars were joyfully celebrated by their friends, family, faculty and staff around the Koi Pond at Porter College on May 18. They were welcomed and congratulated by Dean Celine and introduced by Art Department Chair Professor Jimin Lee and Professor Elizabeth Stephens. The students each gave moving speeches, thanking their parents, many of whom traveled from long distances to be there in person, along with the professors who inspired them. The William Hyde and Susan Benteen Irwin Scholarship Fund was established in 1986, with a modest donation by Sue Irwin, and now generates 12 annual merit scholarships to further the education of selected UCSC Art Department students for proven excellence in the arts. Their exhibition, entitled Blueprint, is at the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery through May 27, 2023.

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Saul Villegas, DANM MFA Candidate, Wins Graduate Symposium

Digital Arts and New Media MFA Candidate, Saul Villegas, won this year’s Graduate Symposium in the Arts category for his presentation called Deep-Sea Coral IIIJudges representing UCSC staff, postdoctoral scholars, graduate student alumni, UCSC Foundation trustees, and community members determined an overall best presentation and five academic division best presentations. 

Producer, Writer, Director, Steven Canals in Conversation with Students

On Friday, May 19, Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning co-creator, executive producer, director, and writer of the FX drama series POSE, Steven Canals, and Film & Digital Media Professor L.S. Kim were in conversation with students talking about redefining diversity through creative interventions and how to utilize them for social change. Canals spoke about his personal journey and how he translated his lived experience into a drama series that advocates for the LGBTQ community.

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Osa Hidalgo de la Riva Herstory Project, UCSC Summer Intensive

July 24-August 4, 2023/FILM 193F Group Tutorial 70466

This two-week Summer Research Intensive invites students to work with archivists, artists, and scholars to focus on the digitization, interpretation, and preservation of the extensive personal archive of queer Chicanx filmmaker, poet, and artist Dr. Osa Hidalgo de la Riva. The de la Riva archive is a collection of documents, films (35mm, VHS, etc), artworks, etc., reaching back to the 1960s held by Santa Cruz-based filmmaker Osa de la Riva who established the “mujerista” approach to filmmaking. Scholarships are also available. Please send questions to Teresa Mora ( and/or John Jota Leaños (

Dorothy Waxman International Textile Design Prize Open Call

Li Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano are pleased to announce the ninth edition of the Dorothy Waxman International Textile Design Prize, awarded to a current or recently graduated student in textiles or fashion who exhibits sustainable thinking and innovative creativity in textiles. Submission deadline: July 15, 2023.

Read more

Women Write Now: A Comedic Screenwriting Fellowship for Black Women

Women Write Now is a partnership between Hartbeat and the Sundance Institute designed to champion and elevate the voices Black female comedy writers through a fellowship that provides mentorship, advocacy, production, and exhibition. Applications due June 5, 2023.

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Submissions to the 2024 Sundance Film Festival Now Open

The Sundance Film Festival is the ultimate gathering of original storytellers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives. Their annual program includes dramatic and documentary features, short films, and episodic content. They also host daily filmmaker conversations, panel discussions, and other events. Since 1985, hundreds of films launched at the Festival have gone on to gain critical acclaim and reach new audiences worldwide.

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Arts Research Institute (ARI) — Funding Available

The Arts Research Institute administers a number of grant programs that support arts research and practice, visiting artists, and collaborative interdisciplinary arts-based research across the UC Santa Cruz campus. Funding is available for faculty, students, visiting artists, and research.

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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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Join our events

All events at

May 24

Curator Lauren Schell Dickens

Visual and Media Cultures Colloquium

Room D245, Porter College (UCSC)

May 24

Drop-In Figure Drawing

Elena Baskin Visual Arts Center (UCSC)

May 24*

UCSC Wind Ensemble

Recital Hall (UCSC)

May 25-28*

Come, Fur(r)ies, Dance!

Theater Arts eXperimental Theater (UCSC)

May 25-28 (final weekend)*

Unibeauty and Her Wicked Daughters

Theater Arts Mainstage (UCSC)

May 31

Composting Grief: Food as Medicine

with Dr. Rupa Marya

100 Panetta Ave (Santa Cruz)

June 1

Mural Unveiling and Screenprinting Session

Porter College Koi Pond (UCSC)

June 1-4*

Opera: The Little Prince

Reserved seating; tickets required

Recital Hall (UCSC)

June 2-3

Grupo Folklórico Los Mejicas

Mainstage Theater (UCSC)

June 7

Reception: Environmental Art & Social Practice M.F.A. Exhibition

Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery (UCSC)

June 9

Open Studios

Elena Baskin Visual Arts Center (UCSC)

June 9*

Concert Choir

Recital Hall (UCSC)

June 9-10

UCSC Print Sale

Elena Baskin Visual Arts Center (UCSC)

June 10*

UCSC Jazz Ensembles

Recital Hall (UCSC)

June 14

Social Documentation Thesis Screening

Studio C, Communications Bldg (UCSC)

June 17

Institute of the Arts and Sciences

Exhibition Walkthrough

100 Panetta Ave (Santa Cruz)

*For ticketed events, please visit

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