The worst of the pandemic may be behind us—technically—but it will never leave us. It’s not so much in the past as it has given way to a new dimension.
We are entering a passage on our journey where steady change and transition become our reality, where we have evolved as individuals and as a society. The virus and its impact have become a permanent part of us.
I continue to agree with the author Arundhati Roy, who in the first weeks of the pandemic analogized it as a “portal” to a potentially more enlightened reality. In this new time, there must be less space for hate, inequity, and misunderstanding. In their place, the new frontier opens up profound opportunities for deliberate reinvention that humanity rarely sees.
Already, we’re beginning to see reinvigorated drive for purpose and proximity. After our collective isolation, society feels more self-aware, more thoughtful and reflective, more centered on the possible.
Artists live at the heart of this, and any, shared reinvention. We take what’s possible and help our communities forge and fathom their reality. Physically, culturally, psychologically, and socially, this global health crisis has made your creative energy more urgent and essential than ever. Your truth-telling, through your practice, is central to how the evolving world will come to see and understand itself—and to how we see and understand one another.
It’s not that we have to leave everything behind. With this new chapter, we can blend the best of our time-tested experience and knowledge with post-pandemic innovation and thinking. We can bring forward our proven lessons of progress while leaving behind toxicity and building anew.
This all might sound a little abstract, but the proof is in the pages that follow. In this “Comeback” issue of The Pool, you’ll see how the CalArts community has seized this time to inject life and fresh vision into celebrated traditions. You’ll see the vision and hope spirited through the revival of hallmark events.
And you’ll read about the institutional change shepherding us through this historic period. I’m eager for you to read the interview with Charmaine Jefferson, the Chair of CalArts’ Board of Trustees, who spoke about leadership transition at this moment.
Also in this issue, you’ll get to know other new CalArts leaders we’re fortunate to welcome. We’ve included details about new buildings, new facilities, and other capital improvements, too—a priority area as we rebound from deferred maintenance to create a physical environment more worthy of our ambitions.
Among our alumnx highlights is a profile of Raven Chacon (Music MFA 04), an incredible vocalist, composer, and arranger who won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Music for “Voiceless Mass.” My congratulations to Raven, who composed the winning piece specifically for the Nichols & Simpson organ at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee.
In line with the change that is our reality, it’s worth repeating that we’re putting a premium on our ties with alumnx. It’s a key priority of mine to make these relationships more active, engaged, mutually supportive, and beneficial. Current students gain so much insight, inspiration, and camaraderie from their engagements with alumnx. And I hear so often from alums that they, too, treasure their connections with students and with the overall CalArts community. As we head toward the new academic year, know that we continue to explore how to grow these vital opportunities.
Meanwhile, my best wishes for what remains of the summer, and the fall that awaits. Thanks to each of you for being a foundational part of the change our world needs now. More than ever, you’re moving society forward.