The Teachers

It’s one thing to learn photography from an academic who dabbles in the dark room on the weekend, it’s another to be taught by a professor whose own work is displayed in some of the world’s leading galleries and collections. Scripps students get the latter.

“We respect diverse approaches to making art,” says Susan Rankaitis, the Fletcher Jones Professor of Studio Art. In the classroom, students are challenged and inspired by renowned photographers, painters, mixed media artists, ceramists, and book artists. “Having faculty who are all exhibiting artists, but very different from one another as artists and teachers, creates a dynamic and positive learning experience,” says Rankaitis.

It’s easy to see why a major in art is second only to economics in popularity at Scripps. Add to these offerings art history professors who bring an understanding of art and its importance to society through their own impressive scholarship. Result: a total of 404 students from The Claremont Colleges—287 from Scripps alone—enrolled in this compelling mix of studio art and art history classes at Scripps during spring semester 2006. (Beginning in fall 2006, the related disciplines became two distinct departments.)

Scripps art and art history professors for the 2006-07 academic year are listed below, with just a sampling of their academic and creative work. In addition to teaching basic introductory courses in their fields, most regularly teach in the College’s Interdisciplinary Core Program in the Humanities.

Art Faculty

Ken Gonzales-Day
Associate Professor of Art, and Chair,
Art Department

Professor Gonzales-Day is an artist and writer whose academic focus is photography, art history, art theory, and contemporary art. His photography has been shown in such venues as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, FotoFest in Houston, the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, and the Museum of the City in Mexico City, among many others.

Gonzales-Day teaches beginning, intermediate, and advanced photography, in addition to “From Beauty to the Abject: Whiteness, Race, and Modernism,” a course that highlights the intersection of modern and contemporary art criticism with issues related to social and cultural constructions of difference as manifested within the visual arts.

Alan Blizzard
Professor of Art

Professor Blizzard has taught painting and drawing at Scripps College since 1963, and maintains studios in Claremont and Los Angeles for the production of his experimental paintings. With work represented in more than 200 public and private collections—including the Crocker Museum of Art, Sacramento; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; Kouri Capital Corporation, NYC; Flour Corporation; Ashland University; La Jolla Museum of Art, La Jolla, CA; the Denver Art Museum; and Columbia University, University of Iowa, UCLA, Claremont Graduate University, and Scripps College—Blizzard’s primary goal of “making magnificent paintings” has already been reached.

This fall he teaches beginning, intermediate, and advanced painting.

Adam Davis
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art

The newest professor to join the art faculty, Professor Davis teaches beginning and advanced ceramics and fundamentals of art. Working with diverse media, Davis explores a wide variety of themes associated with body politics; he is currently exploring themes of masculinity and sexuality through a series of new works informed and inspired by the tale of John Henry.

“I join a group of distinguished colleagues who are equally committed to building upon already-established strengths and exploring new directions in which we might grow,” said Davis. “Our interests are diverse, but I think we all use art to engage with the problems that define the 21st century—that is, we believe in its relevance.”

Nancy Macko
Professor of Art; Director, Digital Art Program; and Chair, Gender and Women’s Studies

This semester, Professor Macko is not only teaching introduction to digital imaging—in which students learn the fundamentals of Photoshop and create original digital art work and a basic web site—but also a new Core III course: “Feminist Utopias in Women’s Science Fiction.” In the spring, she will teach “Intermediate Web Design,” “Moving Between Media,” and “Feminist Concepts and Strategies in Studio Art and Media Studies,” a seminar that analyzes work by feminist women artists in fine art and the media. Macko says her goal in the seminar is to give the students “a sense of the historical legacy as they move into the future.” Student work from each of these classes can be viewed at http://arthive.scrippscollege.edu.

Macko’s own art will be featured in a survey exhibition at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery from December 15 – February 4. “Hive Universe: The Art of Nancy Macko, 1994-2006,” includes more than 60 works and two video installations. Another show, “14 Printmakers/14 Years Mahaffey Fine Art” is currently at the Portland Art Museum through January 2007.

Kitty Maratt
Director of the Scripps College Press and Assistant Professor of Art

Kitty Maryatt ’66 teaches several classes this year while organizing events for the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Scripps College Press.

Each semester, Maryatt’s signature class, “Typography and the Book Arts,” guides students in producing limited edition letterpress books. Through collaboration, they develop text and original imagery, typeset with metal type, print on letterpress equipment, and bind the 100-copy edition by hand. The subject of this fall’s book is powerand its ramifications. Each year 50 of the books are purchased by standing order patrons, with the rest sold to collectors.

Maryatt also teaches the Core III class, “From Materiality to Immateriality: the Coming of the Artists’ Book,” in which students study the history of the book in order to understand the contemporary artists’ book movement. They will make a clay tablet and papyrus scroll, sew a codex, make lacing on a binding, and print by letterpress, as well as write a catalog to accompany an exhibition in the Clark Humanities Museum.

Maryatt’s studio, Two Hands Press, is in Playa Vista, CA.

Susan Rankitis
The Fletcher Jones Professor of Studio Art

A renowned mixed-media artist, Rankaitis was described by art writer Suzanne Muchnic ’62 as someone who “has used photographic materials and techniques for more than 20 years with the sensibility of a painter who isn’t afraid to wander into the territory of sculpture.”

Such open-minded creativity infects her teaching as well. Of her “Introduction to Mixed Media Art,” she says, “I am constantly reworking the structure and assignments to include new themes and approaches to beginning levels of combined media art making. I try to keep costs down for the students by use of many alternative art materials, such as cut tree branches, old clothes, or just about anything that is portable and not dangerous or illegal. A friend of the College is donating some small glass yogurt bottles for a project titled ‘Identity in Small Space,’ while last year a Scripps dad sent a hundred small plastic trays from his medical practice.”

Rankaitis’s fall senior seminar requires that fourth-year art majors do a project and a related research paper. One noteworthy aspect of this class is that art faculty volunteer to mentor seniors and serve as first reader for their papers; as a result, at least two Scripps art professors are deeply involved with each senior’s work. Near the end of the semester, faculty assess and critique the projects and vote on which students may, if they choose, advance to the spring senior seminar, which culminates in the Senior Art Exhibition in the Williamson Gallery in late April.

T. Kim-Trang Tran
Associate Professor of Media Studies

On sabbatical this fall, Professor Tran is in the midst of completing the last in a series of eight video tapes investigating blindness and its metaphors, aptly named the Blindness Series. This epilogue, titled “The Palpable Invisibility of Life,” addresses the visible and invisible and marks the end of a 14-year project. Individual tapes in the series have been screened at MoMA, the Whitney Biennial, and theFlaherty Seminar, as well as various international venues. A book of essays, More Than Meets the Eye, will accompany the complete series.

Concurrently, “Call Me Sugar,” a feature-length dramatic film about her mother, is in script development. The project has received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the California Community Foundation, and the California Arts Council.

During a normal year, Professor Tran teaches introduction to video with a focus on history and theory, as well as intermediate and advanced video, where students develop digital projects and begin to create motion graphics for video. She also teaches advanced web projects, introduction to media studies, and a Core III class, “Women, Work, and Media,” which examines a variety of media sources covering women and labor issues to see how women’s work and the labor movement are framed.

“Ultimately,” says Tran, “I am teaching students to become artists as well as contributors to culture and society at large.”

Art History Faculty

Bruce A. Coats
Professor of Art History, and Chair,
Art History Department

As Scripps’ Asian art expert, Professor Coats is the force behind the fascinating early fall exhibition on the work of 19th-century Japanese wood block print artist Chikanobu at the Ruth Williamson Gallery, now traveling across the nation and eventually to Japan. Coats curated the exhibition and wrote the catalog.

He teaches a seminar this fall titled “Topics in Asian Arts,” which focuses on the Meiji Period (1868-1912) arts of Japan, using the exhibitions at the Williamson Gallery and the Clark Humanities Museum for “looking assignments.” Coats believes that viewing original works of art is an important way to understand what an artist is trying to say and how that communication is accomplished. In spring, students in his seminar “Arts of Late Imperial China” will create an exhibition for the Clark Museum using objects from the Scripps College collections. The lower division survey, “Monuments of Asia,” will have students visiting the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see examples of Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic arts. “The History of Gardens, East and West” will have looking assignments atthe Huntington Gardens in San Marino, the Los Angeles Arboretum, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena.

Juliet Koss
Assistant Professor of Art History

Professor Koss’s courses at Scripps often revolve around her current research; this year several essays related to her teaching were published in The Art Bulletin and Centropa: The Journal of Central European Architecture; she had the cover essay in Bauhaus Culture: From Weimar to the Cold War (ed. K. James-Chakraborty; Minneapolis, 2006).

While on sabbatical last spring, Koss submitted the manuscript of her first book, Modernism After Wagner, and co-organized a symposium on the photomontages of John Heartfield at the Getty Research Institute, where she presented a paper titled “Radical Gesamtkunstwerk.”

Professor Koss’s three courses this fall are: a survey course on Modernism (1840-1940) from the early years of photography to surrealist film; a seminar on the visual arts, architecture, film, and literature to explore selected 19th and 20th-century representations of major world cities; and a seminar on Russian and Soviet avant-garde art from the early 20th century. Oriented primarily around films, texts, digital images, and old-fashioned slides, her courses include field trips outside Claremont. During the spring, Koss will teach two courses, including a Core II course on nationalism and culture, in conjunction with Professor YouYoung Kang in the Music Department.

Koss is accompanying the Scripps College Alumnae Trip to Tuscany in November to present two lectures on Renaissance art and architecture.

Mary Davis MacNaughton ’70
Director, Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery;

Associate Professor of Art History

Directing the gallery and overseeing its collections, acquisitions, and exhibitions is a full-time job for most people. Mary MacNaughton also teaches; in addition, for several years she was president of Art Table, a national organization for professional women in leadership positions in the visual arts.

This spring, MacNaughton will teach “Artistic Intersections: Dada and Surrealism,” a seminar that examines two of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century in terms of their many interconnections. Students will explore the political and aesthetic origins of Dada, an international movement that emerged in reaction to World War I, as well an analyze the work of artists who bridged Dada and Surrealism; then, they will see how Surrealism subsumed Dada in Paris in the twenties.

MacNaughton has published several articles this year, including “Caro and Clay,” Clay in Art International (spring 2006); “Bees, Stars and Beyond,” The Hive Universe: The Art of Nancy Macko, 1994-2006 (Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, 2006); and “Stoneware and Steel: Anthony Caro’s Kenwood Series,” Ceramics: Art and Perception (winter 2006).