California College of the Arts

California College of the Arts

infobox University
name= California College of the Arts

president= Michael S. Roth (Former)
established= 1907
type= Private
faculty= 480
students= 1,670
city= Oakland, California and San Francisco, California
country= USA

Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (formerly California College of Arts and Crafts) is a regionally accredited, independent school of art and design in Oakland and San Francisco, California, USA. It is one of the premier fine arts and design institutions in the United States. CCA is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), a consortium of thirty-six leading art schools in the United States and Canada.

The college offers undergraduate and graduate majors in the areas of fine arts, architecture, curatorial practice, visual criticism, design, and writing. The college confers bachelor of architecture, bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, master of architecture, master of arts, and master of fine arts degrees.


CCA was founded in 1907 by Frederick Meyer in Berkeley as the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts during the height of the Arts and Crafts movement. The school's first site was the Studio Building on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. In 1908 the school was renamed California School of Arts and Crafts, and moved to the former Kellogg Primary School at the corner of Oxford and Center Street in downtown Berkeley, across from the campus of the University of California. In 1910 the school moved to the site of Berkeley High School on Allston Way. In 1922 the school moved to a new, permanent campus on the former James Treadwell estate in Oakland located just east of the intersection of College Avenue and Broadway, where it remains today. In 1936 the school became the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC).

In recognition of the growth of the college and its broad curriculum as well as for image reasons, the college was renamed California College of the Arts. CCA dropped the word "Crafts" from its name in 2003 and is now simply known as "CCA", Many students and faculty voiced objection about the name change, and still refer the school as CCAC.

CCA's faculty and graduates have influenced, and in many cases led, many mid- and late-twentieth-century art movements. CCAC was closely linked to the emergence of the 1960s ceramics movement. Alumni Robert Arneson and Peter Voulkos and faculty member Viola Frey helped initiate the ceramics revolution, which established that medium as a fine art. The photorealist movement of the 1970s is represented by current faculty member Jack Mendenhall and alumni Robert Bechtle and Richard McLean. Alumni Nathan Oliveira and Manuel Neri were leaders in the Bay Area Figurative Movement.

Former and current CCA faculty includes designers Yves Behar, Brenda Laurel, Michael Vanderbyl, and Martin Venezky; architects Thom Faulders, Ila Berman, and Craig Scott; artists Raymond Saunders, Claudia Bernardi, Jordan Kantor, Kota Ezawa, Christian Jankowski, Tim Lee, Mario Ybarra Jr., Larry Sultan, Jim Goldberg, Brian Conley, Ken Lum, and Lia Cook; goldsmith Alan Revere, writers Lisa Robertson, Mitchell Schwarzer, Joseph Lease, Amy Phan, Tom Barbash, Dodie Bellamy, and Kevin Killian; curators Raimundas Malasauskas, Renny Pritikin, Lawrence Rinder, and Jens Hoffmann; and filmmaker Rob Epstein.

Undergraduate programs


The Animation Program takes an experimental, interdisciplinary approach to traditional character animation. Students begin with drawing and film courses that focus on characterization, timing, locomotion, and emotional expression, then move on to engage in a wide variety of individual and collaborative projects involving character studies, storytelling, film production, motion graphics, video, and interactive media. The program focuses on multiple iterations, creating several films of varied genres. Students have access to resources and equipment in the college’s other undergraduate programs such as Media Arts. They also benefit from collaborations with Pixar and other Bay Area institutions. Faculty members come from prominent animation and film studios, digital graphics companies, and advertising houses.


The five-year, NAAB-accredited Architecture Program integrates artistic, material, and critical approaches. Exploring alternative models of design, practice, and fabrication, it brings recent developments in media, culture, and technology to bear on the processes of architectural production. Students may engage in interdisciplinary projects that take advantage of the college’s studio culture. Leading international figures visit campus for guest lectures, studio instruction, and juried reviews. Through internships, students gain real-world experience at architectural firms at home or abroad. CCA’s facilities include dedicated studios, fabrication shops, and computer labs with the most recent software and hardware. The New Materials Resource Center, the only such library at an art school, houses a vast collection of samples.


Students in the Ceramics Program explore everything from cultural objects to functional ware, figurative sculpture, applications in science and industry, large-scale public commissions, and even performance art. They utilize diverse media (drawing, sculpture, printmaking, design, architecture, and animation) and methods of fabrication. Alumni and faculty include artists, designers, and educators who manage successful businesses and exhibit internationally. Students learn diverse approaches and gain a full understanding of the medium’s history and contemporary possibilities. The campus facilities include more than 30 computerized and gas kilns of various sizes, slip-casting tanks, and a glaze lab.

Community Arts

The interdisciplinary Community Arts Program focuses on art education, civic engagement, diversity issues, and service learning. Students take studio art courses as well as courses in the humanities and sciences, arts administration, and cultural diversity, gaining an understanding of social, economic, historical, and political influences on community art. They acquire professional experience (there is a required internship) and skills in both art and conceptual thinking. Students in the program may elect to participate in the Subject Matter Art (SMART) teaching concentration, which meets entry requirements for state-approved, postgraduate teacher credential programs.

Fashion Design

The Fashion Design Program emphasizes both conceptual and technical skills. Students develop their own daring, original ideas, exploring across disciplinary boundaries and approaching fashion as a facet of modern culture and art. They gain expertise in sewing, draping, pattern making, and fashion illustration while considering issues such as sustainability and environmental preservation. Each senior creates a signature collection, and the designs of the graduating class are featured in a runway fashion show. The facilities include industrial sewing machines, cutting tables, dress forms, and knitting machines. Students may also enroll in Textiles courses and take advantage of that program’s facilities, which include a dye lab and equipment for weaving, spinning, and printing.


The Furniture Program focuses on studio furniture, a field that incorporates furniture design, sculpture, architecture, and industrial design. Students acquire skills in woodworking, upholstery, metalworking, industrial fabrication, drawing, and digital design, developing a sophisticated, professional body of work suitable for gallery exhibition or small-scale production runs. Interdisciplinary collaborations with Architecture, Industrial Design, and Interior Design students are encouraged. Studio courses are regularly sponsored by major retailers and manufacturers. The program also hosts a lecture series and brings visiting artists to campus. It has state-of-the-art facilities for woodworking, metalworking, upholstery, and spray finishing. There is also a dedicated digital fabrication studio with equipment for laser cutting and rapid prototyping.


The Glass Program combines a solid foundation in craft skills with concept-oriented projects. Students gain a comprehensive knowledge of the techniques, history, materials, and philosophy of the medium, exploring both past traditions and contemporary paradigms. The faculty members, all professional artists, encourage students to think rigorously and to make their adventurous ideas a reality. There is a two-bench hot shop, a glass furnace, and facilities for fusing, casting, and coldworking. Students may also take advantage of the Sculpture Program’s well-equipped facilities.

Graphic Design

The Graphic Design Program emphasizes theory and interdisciplinary thinking as well as technical skills in typography and digital media. The faculty members are all accomplished, professional designers. Students enjoy state-of-the-art studio facilities, equipment loans, a wireless network, and image labs for web, print, and animation. They may enroll in photography, film, video, screenprinting, letterpress printing, and bookbinding courses. Through the required internship, they gain work experience and contacts in design firms, publishing houses, museums, tech companies, and nonprofits. They regularly win recognition in national competitions. Alumni of the program work in leading design firms nationwide and many have established their own successful practices.


The Illustration Program develops strong painting and drawing skills while encouraging imaginative, entrepreneurial, and interpretive thinking. Students develop expertise with both digital and traditional illustration tools, and they may supplement their studies with courses in Animation, Printmaking, Photography, or other disciplines. Alumni of the program participate regularly in national exhibitions and work in a variety of genres, from magazines to graphic novels, children’s books, and comics. The faculty members are all professionals who bring enthusiasm and experience to the studio classroom.

Industrial Design

The Industrial Design curriculum emphasizes technical skills in drawing, problem solving, model making, and digital design as well as creativity, innovation, and visual intelligence. Students create new generations of products, services, and businesses from an array of cultural, ecological, and commercial perspectives. Visits from renowned designers, a lecture series, collaborative projects, internships, and study-abroad options enrich the program, as does CCA’s proximity to Silicon Valley. Gaia&Gino, Pantech, Mattel, Tupperware, Samsung, and Timbuk2 are among the many companies that have sponsored studio courses. The campus facilities include an Alias lab, a fabrication and modeling shop, a rapid prototyping facility, a fuse deposition modeling (FDM) machine, a vacuum-form machine, equipment for wood- and metalworking, and the New Materials Resource Center, whose comprehensive, interdisciplinary collection emphasizes alternative and eco-friendly materials.

Interior Design

Interior Design students become familiar with architectural, environmental, and social contexts, acquiring an understanding of habitability, creativity, and human interaction. They gain both the technical and the conceptual skills to compete in today’s professional world. Foundation courses teach research, design, analysis, presentation, and concept development. During their junior years, students can participate in a unique studio program that involves traveling to other cities around the world to gain an understanding of different cultural contexts for the study of architecture, interiors, and environments. Students may also take elective courses in any of CCA’s other programs, including Furniture, Architecture, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, and Industrial Design.

Jewelry/Metal Arts

The Jewelry/Metal Arts Program teaches traditional and contemporary metalsmithing techniques for the production of jewelry, sculpture, and functional objects, emphasizing craftsmanship, design, aesthetics, conceptual rigor, and familiarity with the medium’s history. Students explore a wide variety of processes and materials for the production of small metal sculpture, jewelry, and holloware, including forging, soldering, cold connections, enameling, casting, stone setting, and creating hinges and other mechanisms. The faculty members are all practicing professionals. Leading figures in the field come to campus regularly for workshops and lectures. Students frequently win grants and scholarships and show their work in juried national competitions.

Media Arts

Students in the Media Arts program choose from three areas of focus: narrative film and video, experimental film and video, and new digital media. The narrative film and video concentration explores contemporary cinematic dialogue, combining cutting-edge production skills with historical perspectives. The experimental film and video area looks at gallery-based projection and installation, animation, abstraction, and multichannel presentations. The new digital media area combines projects in electronics, programming, and fabrication with emerging practices in media, technology, and design. Students can also take courses in Graphic Design, Sculpture, Writing and Literature, and Industrial Design. The program takes advantage of the Bay Area’s prestigious film and alternative-media scene as well as Silicon Valley’s close proximity.


Students in the Painting/Drawing program learn the use of color, line, composition, form, and space. As they progress, the coursework shifts in emphasis to individual expression and guided experimentation. Seniors have dedicated studio spaces and devote their final year of study to the development of a mature, coherent body of work, culminating in a senior show. Visiting faculty members include artists from Los Angeles, New York, and other major cities, who teach courses and perform critiques. Other visiting artists come to campus through the lecture series, keeping students connected to the larger art world. The painting and drawing studios on campus are all available 70 or more hours per week. Several on-campus galleries are dedicated to rotating student exhibitions.


The Photography Program balances contemporary practice with the historical traditions from which those practices evolved, emphasizing analog and digital imaging, technical skills, and conceptual thinking. The faculty members are all practicing, professional artists working in a wide range of styles and approaches. CCA’s studio facilities enable work in color, black and white, and alternative processes. They are staffed at least 90 hours per week and include large black-and-white darkrooms, individual color-printing darkrooms, a 42-inch color RA4 processor, high-end digital workstations, a mural darkroom, a lighting studio, and more. Advanced students may borrow cameras and equipment for off-campus use. Internships are available with museums, photography studios, galleries, major magazines and newspapers, and film production companies. Numerous alumni are professional photographers and exhibit internationally.


Printmaking students gain experience with a wide range of methods and media, both traditional and digital, including lithography, intaglio, monotype, relief printing, photo printmaking, screenprinting, papermaking, and book arts. They are encouraged to collaborate with students in Illustration, Graphic Design, Textiles, Photography, Painting/Drawing, and Writing and Literature. The facilities include equipment for French Tool etching, lithography, relief printing, screen/photo printmaking, and book arts. There are more than 100 litho stones, two Vandercook letterpresses, a photopolymer platemaker, a large type press (with several hundred cases of metal and wood type), a large exposing table, and a coating facility. The papermaking equipment includes a hydropulper, a Hollander beater, numerous molds, and couching screens.


The Sculpture Program encompasses a wide range of methods and media, encouraging cross-disciplinary projects with Architecture, Furniture, Ceramics, Industrial Design, Glass, Textiles, and Jewelry / Metal Arts. Students in the program may also collaborate with Media Arts students to create installations, robotics, and kinetic sculptures. Faculty members are prominent professionals working in a wide range of modes and media. The program facilities include one of the largest working college foundries, a metal welding and fabricating shop, a plaster studio, a bronze foundry, a woodworking shop, glass facilities, and an overhead crane. Sculpture students may also take advantage of the Media Arts and Furniture facilities.


Textiles are an ancient aesthetic tradition, but they are also on the cutting edge of contemporary practice and critical inquiry. CCA’s program is one of the preeminent fiber departments in the country. It offers three areas of concentration: fiber sculpture, weaving, and textile printing. Students learn dexterity and sensitivity to materials, and they become technically competent in twining, netting, knitting, spinning, felt making, embroidery, image transfer, dye technology, photo- and computer-generated imaging, and loom weaving. They gain a historical knowledge of the medium’s relationship to culture, gender, domesticity, race, religion, and colonization. They may also engage in multidisciplinary projects, folding fashion, glass, video, painting, ceramics, metal, furniture, installation, and performance into their textile work.

Visual Studies

To be able to interpret visual images is a critical skill in our contemporary culture. We have ready access to millions of works of art, design, and architecture, but what about their entanglements in systems of power and meaning? How do images support religious systems, political regimes, or institutions? How do they alter our understanding of people, ethnicity, or gender? Graduates will be prepared for careers not only in museums, galleries, and arts journalism but also in interior design, marketing, advertising, or any field that requires visual savvy. Students investigate the history of art, architecture, film, video, design, and new media; aesthetics; American studies; and semiotics. They also take courses in one or more studio disciplines and have access to workshops, internships, lectures, the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, and the Capp Street Project artist residency program.

Writing and Literature

Writing and Literature students investigate literary traditions while exploring the subtle and challenging craft of writing. The Bay Area has an extremely rich literary history and a dynamic contemporary writing culture, and students benefit from these as well as CCA’s diverse community of artists. Faculty members help them develop individual, collaborative, and interdisciplinary projects. In addition to courses and workshops in fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry, they may take unique courses such as Interdisciplinary Text and Image, in which they collaborate with Graphic Design and Illustration students to produce a literary magazine, and a practicum that helps graduating seniors transition to professional fields such as publishing and teaching. Students also have access to programs sponsored by the MFA Program in Writing.

Graduate programs

Master of Architecture Program

The Master of Architecture Program combines artistic, material, and critical approaches to a rapidly evolving profession. Balancing design and fabrication with experimentation and creativity, it explores developments in contemporary culture, technology, and media as well as alternative models of practice. The three-year program, a first professional master’s degree, is designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a different field but also accommodates those who studied architecture as undergraduates.

Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice

The Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice offers a diverse, international perspective on contemporary culture, extending the current academic focus on conventional exhibitions to explore artist-led initiatives and other projects that operate outside traditional venues. Faculty members include curators from Bay Area galleries and museums, including the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art. Students will leave the program prepared for careers in galleries, museums, public art, publishing, and project management.

Graduate Program in Design

Students in the Graduate Program in Design may choose one of three areas of focus: industrial design, communication design, or interaction design. The program emphasizes not only technical skills, but also the history of the field and critical thinking; today’s design world increasingly requires a combination of transdisciplinary, broad-based knowledge, individual virtuosity, and values such as sustainability and social justice. The courses and studios recombine traditional areas of study to address evolving cultural and social practices, new technologies, and ever-changing avenues for design intervention.

MBA in Design Strategy

The MBA in Design Strategy program, beginning in fall 2008, unites the fields of finance, design, and organizational management. Its approach encompasses strategy, performance, and innovation as well as sustainable, meaningful social change. It combines seminars and lectures in business strategy, organizational development, management communication, entrepreneurship, leadership, and sustainability with sponsored projects and practical studios. Its unique structure—five once-a-month, four-day weekends—offers flexibility to working professionals.

Graduate Program in Fine Arts

The Graduate Program in Fine Arts helps students gain a deeper understanding of their own artistic ideas and the relationship of their art practices to the larger cultural and social landscape. Through interdisciplinary seminars, visiting-artist programs, and critiques, they acquire a grounding in critical theory and practice while exploring diverse media, from ceramics to furniture, metal arts, glass, drawing, media arts, painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking, and textiles. They may also choose to focus on social practice in addition to, or instead of, studio practice.

Graduate Program in Visual and Critical Studies

Today’s visual world requires new forms of understanding and analysis. Cultural critics must be able to write eloquently in various venues and forms for diverse audiences. The Graduate Program in Visual and Critical Studies is intended for those who wish to write professionally about contemporary visual arts, architecture, culture, and design. It encompasses interdisciplinary study, historical grounding, and the art of writing. Students acquire skills in attentive viewing, creative and critical writing, and analytical perspective.

The dual degree—an MA in Visual and Critical Studies and an MFA in Fine Arts, Design, or Writing—is for artists who want to augment their studio practices with a deeper and more critical understanding of visual culture.

MFA Program in Writing

The MFA Program in Writing is for novelists, poets, short-story writers, screenwriters, scriptwriters, and writers of creative nonfiction who wish to study writing in an art-school environment. The program includes traditional workshops but also capitalizes on its situation to offer courses in the wide field of image and text: performance art, multimedia, book art, video, film, and the arts of the web. Students become thoughtful, well-rounded, innovative writers, grounded in a particular discipline and effective in various forms.


Oakland Campus

CCA’s Oakland campus is on four acres at the corner of College Avenue and Broadway. Two of its buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Based on this campus are the undergraduate programs in fine arts (except Painting/Drawing), Community Arts, Writing and Literature, and Visual Studies.

The Treadwell Ceramic Arts Center has multiple electric and gas kilns, a glaze lab, a large car kiln, three work areas devoted to metallurgy and jewelry making, professional jeweler’s benches, and a wide array of tools. The Barclay Simpson Sculpture Studio includes one of the largest working foundries at any college as well as a plaster room, a woodshop, and a metal fabrication studio. The glass facilities include a hot shop with two benches, a glass furnace, and equipment for coldworking, casting, and fusing. The textiles studio is equipped with a T1 computerized loom, a computer laboratory, and studios for weaving and large-scale printing. The Blattner Print Studio has multiple lithography presses, a polymer plate maker, etching presses (including a 40x60 American French Tool press), relief presses, a letterpress lab, 100 lithography stones, and a complex for papermaking and silkscreening. The Blattner Print Studio also houses a two-floor photography complex with 12 individual darkrooms for printing in color, two large black-and-white darkrooms, a 42-inch RA4 color processor, an alternative-processes lab, a mural darkroom for printing in both black and white and color, a dedicated lighting studio, high-end Macs, and more. The film and video facility includes several editing and sound suites, a computer lab, a streaming radio station, a screening room, and a first-year studio facility with a woodshop, a computer lab, and a dedicated 4D classroom and computer lab. The Oakland campus also houses painting and drawing studios, although these programs are officially based in San Francisco.

Meyer Library focuses on the fine arts, the social sciences, and the humanities.

Undergraduates organize and present exhibitions of their work (rotating weekly) at the Irwin Student Center gallery, the North/South Galleries, the Isabelle Percy West Gallery, and the campus cafe.

The Oliver Art Center hosts faculty and student exhibitions and reviews. Its programming promotes a compelling on-campus student experience, stimulates dialogue relating to the college’s programs, and establishes connections to outside communities.

The Center for Art and Public Life creates partnerships between the college and the diverse communities of the San Francisco Bay Area. Reaching across disciplines, it uses the arts to address issues related to social justice, education, community development, and diversity.

an Francisco Campus

Located in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, CCA’s San Francisco campus is home to undergraduate programs in Painting/Drawing, Architecture, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Industrial Design, Fashion Design, Furniture, and Illustration. It also houses all eight of CCA’s graduate programs: Fine Arts, Film, Architecture, Design, Writing, Curatorial Practice, Design Strategy, and Visual and Critical Studies.

The 160,000-square-foot main building was once a Greyhound Bus repair shed, originally designed in 1951. It is now among the most notable “green” structures in San Francisco. Its central nave is a spacious and well illuminated space for student exhibitions and critiques.

There are numerous large studios for students in the design programs, including both open facilities that are shared and dedicated studios for each specific discipline. There are fashion facilities for sewing, cutting, and draping; rooms for drawing and painting; media-ready seminar rooms; production facilities for model making, woodworking, and furniture; numerous computer labs; and a rapid prototyping studio. Each individual fine-arts student has his or her own graduate studio space, and Design, Curatorial Practice, and Writing students have shared graduate studio spaces. A brand-new Graduate Center complex next to the main building houses fine-arts studios, film and media facilities, and seminar rooms. The Writing program resides in a newly acquired building, also near the main building, with beautiful gardens. Simpson Library specializes in architecture and design and also supports the graduate programs.

In the Tecoah and Thomas Bruce Galleries, undergraduates participate in exhibitions and departmental reviews. Graduate students may exhibit their work in the Paulette Long and Shepard Pollack Graduate Student Gallery (PLAySPACE). Its presentations typically last two weeks and, like all CCA exhibitions, are open to the public and dedicated to encouraging dialogue, artistic growth, and exhibition opportunities.

Small Press Traffic is a literary organization that is active year-round, sponsoring and promoting readings, workshops, lectures, and conferences featuring an array of visiting writers.

The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is a forum for leading-edge contemporary culture. Its innovative exhibitions and accompanying publications and lectures feature compelling, important artists working on both the local and the international levels. Wattis Institute director Jens Hoffmann has been responsible for some of the most inspired and stimulating programming in the field of contemporary art. He was previously the exhibitions director at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.

External links

* [ California College of the Arts website]
* [ CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts]
* [ CCA Center for Art and Public Life]
* [ CCA Curatorial Practice Archive]
* [ CCA Libraries]

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