Arts Division Newsletter

(l-r) Aracely Aceves Lozano (Event & Outreach Coordinator/ODEI), Matthew Martinez (student), Anju Reejhsinghani (Vice Chancellor/ODEI), Dadao Hou (Director of Policy and Planning/ODEI), delfín bautista (Director/Cantú Queer Center), Balakrishnan Raghavan (Ph.D. student/Cross-Cultural Musicology), Alok Vaid-Menon, Dean Celine, Pamela Rodríguez-Montero (Acting Assistant Professor of Costume Design/PPD), mattie brice (Assistant Professor, AGPM/PPD), L. Esthela Bañuelos (Assistant Dean for Student Success and Chief of Staff)

photo by Carolyn Lagattuta

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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April 24, 2024

Dear Arts Community,


I am deeply in awe of the beauty of our campus as I filmed pick-ups this past weekend for my latest project. Sightings included deer, turkeys, squirrels, and birds, including my very first banana slug in the cathedral of trees behind my office in Porter. What a vibrant Spring Quarter brimming with outstanding music, art, and performing arts events, including “April in Santa Cruz!” Do not miss the world class events for free on the most beautiful campus on Earth!

On April 9th, the Arts Division partnered with the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to present internationally acclaimed poet, comedian, public speaker, and actor, Alok Vaid-Menon (they/them) to a packed Music Center Recital Hall. I first met Alok at Stanford University as a Visiting Professor teaching Sexuality and Cinema in Winter 2013. Whenever I meet the students from that class eleven years ago, they always recall Alok’s mind-expanding impact on their lives, and I’m certain the students who recently saw them here feel the same way, as they enthusiastically expressed in their feedback: “ALOK is amazing, powerful, genius...what an incredible event, I could have listened to them for hours and hours….I so enjoyed and appreciated this event--thank you for making it happen!”

Our signature event of the year – the opening party for Sowing Seeds: Filipino American Stories from the Pajaro Valley – the major exhibition focusing on Filipinx American lives in Santa Cruz County, was a huge success for this extraordinary exhibition. Filipinx immigrant workers came to this region in the early part of the last century to be brutally and violently driven out through torching and lynching, fueled by economic and sexual racism. The important work of Watsonville is in the Heart and the Sowing Seeds exhibition ensure knowing our stories, including triumph and joy, for generations. I’m so appreciative of Christina Ayson Plank, from our Department of History of Art and Visual Culture, who curated this exhibition with Meleia Simon-Reynolds, and professors Kat Gutierrez from History, and Steve McKay from Sociology in collaboration with The Tobera Project. Sowing Seeds is on through August 4th at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. Don’t miss it!

Also just last week, noted artist and UCSC Arts alumnus, Fritz Chesnut, held a three-day workshop with our senior Art majors. Fritz serves as a very generous supporter and inspiring mentor for our students and we’re so grateful for his wisdom and guidance. He also serves on our Arts Advocacy Council, amplifying our shared goals, aspirations and ambitions as we work together to enhance student success.


Our Distinguished Arts Banana Slug Awardee for 2023, and mentor and Arts Advocacy Council member, Kevin Nolting, recently spearheaded the very first Slug 48, an action-packed filmmaking competition where students create a 4-minute film on a mystery topic given to them at the beginning of the contest. Kevin, who spent his career as an award-winning film editor at Pixar Animation Studios, is also one of the judges and I look forward to celebrating with the award winners!

The annual Find Your Path! Arts Division career event is on May 8-9, organized by L. Esthela Bañuelos, Assistant Dean for Student Success and Chief of Staff, and features an in-person workshop the first day followed by live Zoom events on day two with key arts and entertainment industry professionals. Students will learn to write resumes that stand out and meet industry representatives. This is a great opportunity for Arts Division students to gain valuable inside information about a wide variety of arts-related careers.

There are still grant opportunities available to support students’ vision of claiming their education, disseminating their research and creating opportunity, as well as the Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence and Equity due on May 10th. Go for it! Ganbatte (Do your best)!  頑張って


So many opportunities are coming up, including our annual Arts immersion gathering, this time in Hillsborough on May 5th with alumni and friends. It will showcase our division’s talented scholars, artists and performers as we make new friends and raise funds for the division.  


Join me in celebrating and supporting the Arts at UC Santa Cruz! 

Fiat Slug!

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People in the Arts

Featured Undergraduate Student

Junebug Sonnenberg

Film and Digital Media

As a member of campus Junebug Sonnenberg is part of the African American Theater Arts Troupe (AATAT) and Rainbow Theater, while working at the Cultural Arts & Diversity Resource Center (CADRC). “They really do so much for student retention, especially students of color on this campus,” says Sonnenberg. “It's really been a joy and an honor to be a part of these spaces and to also be able to lift up other students' spaces.”

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Featured Graduate Student

Siamak Barghi

Music, Ph.D. Student


Siamak Barghi is an Iranian musician, and composer, and is currently a Ph.D. student in Musicology/Ethnomusicology at the UC, Santa Cruz. He received his MA in Ethnomusicology in 2021 from the University of Tehran, Iran. As an instrumentalist (Violinist, Tonbak, and Kamanche Player), he has performed numerous concerts during 2006-2023 in his country and abroad.

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Featured Faculty

Noah Lucé

Lecturer, Performance, Play and Design (PPD)

Noah Lucé was recently featured in an interview in Bold Journey magazine. As a lecturer in drama at the University of California Santa Cruz and the Associate Artistic Director at New Canon Theatre, I am deeply passionate about the transformative power of storytelling through theater. At UC Santa Cruz, I have the privilege of teaching and mentoring aspiring theater artists, fostering their creativity and guiding them on their artistic journeys. This past November I had the privilege of directing our Mainstage production, Eurydice, by Sarah Ruhl.

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Featured Staff

Adriana Gonzalez

Department Administrative Assistant, Music

Adriana Gonzalez, an administrative assistant for the music program, loves to take her cat, Leah, to the beach to let her dig holes in the sand. “She acts like a dog,” says Gonzalez. “She's on guard and then she'll just start digging randomly.” When she’s not busy taking her cat out, Gonzalez loves to spend time with her son.

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Featured Alumnus

Mike Dillon

Film and Digital Media, 2005

Since graduating from University of California, Santa Cruz Mike Dillon has been credited in the production of over 100 films. His accomplishments include working on movies such as The Blind Side (2009), Gravity (2013), and 16 separate Marvel movies.

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Arts In the News

Dean Celine’s 80 YEARS LATER Screening at American Library Association National Conference

Dean Celine’s film 80 YEARS LATER was recently selected to screen at the American Library Association National Conference in San Diego on June 30. The ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition brings together thousands of librarians and library staff, educators, authors, publishers, friends of libraries, trustees, special guests, and exhibitors to the world's largest library event.

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Associate Professor of FDM, Susana Ruiz, Honored with 2023 Innovator of the Year Award

UC Santa Cruz announced the recipients of the 2023 Chancellor’s Innovation Impact awards, recognizing the outstanding research and creativity taking place across the university. Susana Ruiz, associate professor of film and digital media, Huy Truong, Emmy Award-nominated director of photography and media artist, and Professor Emerita of Literature Karen Tei Yamashita, received the 2023 Innovator of the Year award for The Last Chinatown, a public memorial experience bringing light to the historical erasure of Santa Cruz’s last Chinatown, which was destroyed by a flood in 1955, through photography, augmented reality (AR), and holographic filmmaking.

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James Gordon Williams and Moor Mother Collaborate at Sold-Out UCSC Event

On March 6th, 2024, composer-pianist–keyboardist James Gordon Williams collaborated with spoken word artist, composer, and Visiting Professor Moor Mother (Camae Dennis) in a project Williams entitled “The Worldmaking Aura of Sonic Blackness.” The sold-out event took place at the UCSC Music Center Recital Hall. The artistic work was based on Williams’s research into the discourse of Black Quantum Futurism and being inspired when seeing Moor Mother perform in Paris approximately one year prior in February 2023. Williams played pre-composed and improvised music while Moor Mother spoke poetry and improvised on various electronic instruments.

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Veriche Blackwell Joins the Sesnon Gallery as Museum Preparator

The Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery has a new museum preparator, Veriche Blackwell. They began working in the arts as a student intern at the Sesnon Gallery and are excited to return and share their passion for art handling with students. For them, putting on an exhibition feels like creating an ephemeral immersive sculpture in collaboration with the artist(s) and curator. They are always learning new crafts and skills for different exhibitions and feel so lucky to have a job which is always pushing them to learn more. Veriche also supports exhibition installations at the Institute of Arts & Sciences. In their free time enjoys reading (particularly sci-fi), playing casual sports with friends, and hanging out with their two cats.

Lalu Esra Özban’s Film in SF Urban Film Festival’s Trans World-Building

The Neighbour, a film produced by Lalu Ozban, Ph.D. Candidate in Film and Digital Media (designated emphasis in Feminist Studies; designated emphasis in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies) and directed by Cedoy, was recently featured as part of the San Francisco Urban Film Festival’s Trans World-Building event at the Tenderloin Museum. Trans World-Building was curated by Kaiya Gordon (UCSC Feminist Studies) and LB Byrd, and explored how gender-expansive individuals navigate and influence their environments despite societal restrictions. The Neighbour delves into the struggles of trans people facing housing insecurity in Istanbul.

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Arts Division Alumnus, Artist Fritz Chesnut Teaches Art Workshop for Students

Recently, the Arts Division hosted a workshop with alumnus and noted artist Fritz Chestnut. For three days Chestnut worked with a group of Art students teaching them a technique for applying paint distinctively to canvas using unexpected tools and materials as a new mode of creating abstract art.

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Fritz Chesnut Featured in Surfer’s Journal

An article about artist and UCSC Arts Division alumnus, Fritz Chesnut’s work is featured in the latest Surfer's Journal titled Impact Zone - Breaking Everything with Fritz Chesnut written by Alex Weinstein. The Surfer's Journal also put out "a short film companion" to the print profile made by Tyler Haft, Brendan and Jackson Calder.

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micha cárdenas Elected to ASA National Council and Symposium

Associate Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies and Performance, Play and Design, micha cárdenas, has been elected to the national council of the American Studies Association (ASA). ASA promotes the development and dissemination of interdisciplinary research on U.S. culture and history in a global context. Its purpose is to support scholars and scholarship committed to original research, critical thinking, and public dialogue.

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IAS and the San Jose Museum of Art Present "Seeing Through Stone"

The Institute of the Arts and Sciences at UC Santa Cruz (IAS) and San José Museum of Art (SJMA) are pleased to present Seeing through Stone, a multi-sited exhibition bringing together works by international artists whose works engage a history of struggle against prisons and their harms. This is the largest exhibition to date of Visualizing Abolition—an ongoing scholarship initiative exploring art, prisons, and justice organized by the IAS. Seeing through Stone will be on view at all three venues through January 5, 2025.

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Professor Enrique Leal and Artist Barbara Benish Present Monoprints

Professor Enrique Leal and artist Barbara Benish are presenting a series of monoprints, published soon by Manchester University Press, (2024) in collaboration with political philosophers Michael J. Shapiro and Sam Okoth Opondo. Created in the UCSC Contemporary Print Media Research studios at UCSC, this unique collaboration, as the authors state, heeds “ Rancière’s conception of images as active and treat their woodcuts and prints as imagistic inhabitations that short circuit the desire for operative images that represent reality as it is or attempts to faithfully illustrate our essays…”A

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FDM/Social Documentation Alumna Janet Chen’s Film Has World Premiere at LA APFF

Janet Chen’s film, Asian Bitches Speak, will have its world premiere at the 40th VC Film Festival/ Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2024 on May 5, 2024. It tells the story of a mother-daughter journey that explores mental health and healing from intergenerational trauma amidst the rise in anti-Asian hate. The film was prompted by a violent verbal anti-Asian hate incident that Chen’s immigrant mother, Diana, survived on 4th of July, 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chen earned her MFA in Film and Digital Media/Social Documentation from UCSC in 2023.

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DANM’s 2024 MFA Exhibition: Embodiments Opens April 26

The Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) program is showcasing the students’ best work in its annual MFA exhibition. Entitled Embodiments, the show features multimedia exhibits including visual novels, games and virtual reality as explorations into identity. The exhibition will be open for two weeks starting on April 26. It will kick off with a reception at 4:00 PM April 26 to celebrate its opening.

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Environmental Art & Social Practice MFA Exhibition: Search Party Runs Through May 19

The Environmental Art & Social Practice (EASP) MFA looks at the intersection of the arts in terms of climate change and other systemic conflicts. This year’s MFA show is the second ever and features work from seven artists. “They are a cohort of artistic researchers,” says Lecturer Yolande Harris, who organized the exhibition. Search Party is the culminating exhibition of the EASP MFA program.

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FDM Technical Director Chris Cain is Retiring in April

After nearly eight years at UCSC and 35 years of working in academia as a staff member and instructor, Chris Cain, who’s been the technical director in Film and Digital Media, is retiring. Chris has supported staff, faculty, and students in classrooms and studios within the department. He upgraded many facilities and oversaw the construction and design of new facilities. Accomplishments include installation of digital cinema projection, Surround Sound systems, A/V touchscreen control, motion capture, Studio LED lighting, and lecture capture in classrooms. Chris says so long, farewell, and Fiat Slug! “


Harpo Foundation – Grants for Visual Artist

Deadline: April 29, 2024

The award provides direct support to under-recognized artists 21 years or older. Awards are made of up to $10,000. (Students who are enrolled in an undergraduate/graduate program are not eligible.)

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SFFILM Documentary Film Fund

The SFFILM Documentary Film Fund (DFF) supports engaging documentaries in post-production which exhibit compelling stories, intriguing characters, and an original, innovative visual approach. DFF grants are awarded once each year to documentary feature projects and are open to filmmakers internationally. As with all SFFILM grants, in addition to the cash awards, recipients will gain access to numerous benefits through the comprehensive and dynamic SFFILM Makers artist development program.

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National Endowment for the Humanities: Humanities Initiatives at Hispanic Serving Institutions

Deadline: May 7, 2024

Hispanic-Serving Institutions are rapidly expanding part of the American education system, and they serve students with rich and varied backgrounds and identities. Humanities Initiatives grants can help strengthen the teaching and study of the humanities at Hispanic-Serving Institutions by supporting the development of new or enhancement of existing programs, educational resources, or courses that explore, interpret, and preserve the diversity of human cultures, ideas, and practices, past and present.

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The Hopper Prize

Deadline: May 14, 2024

The Hopper Prize provides unrestricted cash grants in the amount of $3,500 and $1,000 to artists around the globe. They view the field of visual art in its broadest and most inclusive sense and therefore make awards available to artists working in any media. Open to all visual artists

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The Studios of Key West

Deadline: May 15, 2024

The Studios of Key West, the premier arts organization at the Southernmost Point of the United States, offers a residency program for emerging and established artists and writers from around the world. Residencies are available to visual artists, writers, composers, musicians, media artists, performers, and interdisciplinary artists.

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Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant

Deadline: May 15, 2024

The Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant supports emerging and established writers who write about contemporary visual art. Ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 in three categories—articles, books, and short-form writing—the grants support projects addressing both general and specialized art audiences, from short reviews for magazines and newspapers to in-depth scholarly studies. We also support art writing that engages criticism through interdisciplinary methods and experiments with literary styles.

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Doris Duke Foundation – Performing Arts Technologies Lab

Deadline: May 16, 2024

The Doris Duke Foundation invites applications to the Performing Arts Technologies Lab, which aims to support and nurture expansive ideas focused on experimentation with the potential of digital tools in the creation, presentation, and distribution of performing arts.

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Deadline: May 30, 2024

PLAYA’s residencies are open to the global community of scientists and artists whose work promotes dialogue and positive change in the environment and the world. We encourage naturalists, biologists, musicians, designers, sustainability leaders, social practitioners, musicians, visual artists, writers, and performing artists to apply. PLAYA welcomes applications from both emerging and seasoned professionals.

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The Robert Giard Grant for Emerging LGBTQ+ Photographers

Deadline: June 30, 2024

Queer|Art’s first international grant provides an award of $10,000 for the winner and $1,250 for distinguished finalists, to support the creation of new work by emerging LGBTQ+ photographers. Named in honor of photographer Robert Giard (1939-2002), a portrait, landscape, and figure photographer whose work focused on LGBTQ+ lives and issues, the grant focuses on supporting emerging LGBTQ+ photographers whose projects address issues of sexuality, gender, or LGBTQ+ identity.

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The Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists

Deadline: June 30, 2024

The Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists, a $10,000 grant, supports visual artists who are self-identified Black trans women. This new grant is made possible entirely through support provided by visual artist Mariette Pathy Allen with key consultancy by Aaryn Lang.

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Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence and Equity

The Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence and Equity (ADFEE) is dedicated to supporting the dissemination of student research. Qualifying projects must demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. This fund is supported entirely through the generosity of our donors, and remains open as long as funding is available. Funds are administered through the Office of the Dean of Arts. Applications are reviewed each quarter. Next deadline: May 10, 2024. Decisions will follow within two weeks.

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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

April 25-May 4

DANM MFA Exhibition

Digital Arts Research Center

Friday, April 26

"A Time for Change"

April in Santa Cruz Festival

Recital Hall (UCSC)

Friday-Sunday, April 26-28

"The Great Garrison"

Theater Arts Second Stage (UCSC)

Saturday, April 27

Indian Student Association Cultural Show

Theater Arts Mainstage (UCSC)

Saturday, April 27

"Indian Midsummer"

Theater Arts eXperimental Theater (UCSC)

Wed, May 1

VMCC talk with Joan Kee

"On the Maoism of an Un-American

Art History"

online event

Fri, May 3

Graduate Recital: Keshav Batish

Recital Hall (UCSC)

Sun, May 5

Graduate Recital: Michael Fleming

Recital Hall (UCSC)

Sun, May 5

Indian Folk Concert: Prahlad Singh Tipanya

Recital Hall (UCSC)

May 8 & 9

Find Your Path!

Professional Development event

for UCSC students

in person and online

Fri, May 10

UCSC Orchestra

Recital Hall (UCSC)

May 10-12

An Iliad

Second Stage, Theater Arts Center (UCSC)

Fri, May 17

UCSC Mariachi Ensemble

Recital Hall (UCSC)

May 17-26

"Somewhere: A Primer for the End of Days"

Theater Arts Mainstage (UCSC)

May 30-June 2

Gilbert & Sullivan's "Iolanthe"

Recital Hall (UCSC)

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