the little school that could

Back when I was applying to architecture schools my options were limited as a girl who hadn’t taken an art class since elementary school and who possessed an unrelated undergraduate degree (I studied English Lit in case you were curious). Living in Los Angeles, I learned there was an art school up in the Bay Area that had recently established an architecture program and while it was undergrad only and unaccredited, it offered a study option for someone like me. So off I went to the California College of Arts & Crafts (CCAC) — today known as California College of the Arts (CCA).

This school, established back in 1907 around the time of the Arts & Crafts movement (hence “Crafts” in the original name), was the most amazing place I had ever been in my life. Students much younger than I with the confidence to create things across a multitude of mediums, classes that revealed art as a true barometer of the world’s social and political history, real life practitioners interested in teaching their craft to a new generation. Painting, drawing, sculpture, graphics, industrial design and of course, architecture.

I spent only two years at CCAC (I moved on to an accredited graduate program back in LA that wasn’t nearly as nurturing or engaging and that I ultimately left after a year and a half somewhat lost and bewildered – which may just have been sleep deprivation I’m not sure). But I have to say, those two years at CCAC were the most influential, best years of my life. For real. And I wish that everyone could experience some form of art/design education in their lifetime. It pains me that the arts have been so mercilessly cut from our education system for lack of funding. And I wonder, often, what effect this will have on the world of the future.

So it pleases me to no end to see a school like CCA thriving. Their architecture program is now accredited and offers a graduate degree as well. They have built a beautiful new design campus and continue to attract top notch staff and talented students. For a school that has been around for over a hundred years, it is little known. It should be better known which is why I thought a little story on a little blog might help get the word out at least a little.

And to my classmates from that other school who reunited in Los Angeles this past weekend, I am so glad I know you and that we shared what we shared and learned what we learned together. And I am ever so grateful that many of us are still good friends today, but CCA(C) is the school I celebrate in my heart all these years later.




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