The BFA4 year is the final stretch for completing the graphic design undergrad program at CalArts. It’s when students begin to prepare for entering the professional world after they graduate, and is a last opportunity to work as a group on experimentation and process with guidance from professors and TAs. For the Fall semester, Gail Swanlund structured her BFA4 class project around the theme of a single word: Water. Swanlund explains, “Water is a basic right and necessity for every creature. The approach the studio takes for this project is highly collaborative and in the process of addressing the topic…outcomes may range from exceedingly practical to speculative to urgent and/or political–or a combination of all these.”
Attending a school like CalArts means the physical environment is a daily reminder of California’s drought. It’s hills, uniformly carpeted with green grass, end abruptly at the perimeter of the school, giving way to the arid landscape surrounding the campus, just as Valencia’s treelined streets contrast the nearby canyons, parched from multiple brush fires and little rain. To further engage with the concept of Water and what it means for Santa Clarita residents, Swanland and TA Jessica Lee arranged two research field trips to the Valencia Water Reclamation Plant and the ruins of the failed San Francisquito Dam site. The following photos are highlights from the field trips, and poster responses from Karen Hong and Sohee Kim.