As the Institute’s 2022-23 academic year this week, 27 artists have joined CalArts as new regular faculty members.
The roster of new faculty—several of whom have had prior academic appointments at CalArts—span all of the Institute’s six schools and the Library. The CalArts community selected them for regular faculty positions through a community-driven process that included faculty-led committees.
Their appointments are the first completed under CalArts’ revised faculty recruitment policy, which incorporates evidence-based practices for equitable results.
“I’m thrilled with such positive outcomes,” said Provost Tracie Costantino. “This diverse and accomplished cohort reinforces the groundbreaking spirit, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and commitment to teaching at the heart of CalArts.”
Two of the cohort—Laurel Chartow in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts and William Ransom in School of Art—will start in January. The rest have already begun their fall semester classes.
Short biographical sketches of the 27 appear below.
Bac is on the Character Animation faculty in the School of Film/Video. Part of the CalArts faculty for 16 years in several areas of animation, he is a former faculty member at the Art Institute of California and Youngstown State University. He earned a doctorate at the Ohio State University and a master’s degree at the School of Visual Arts New York City.
Benda-Elam focuses on costumes as a faculty member in the School of Theater. A costume designer with experience in film, television, commercial campaigns, and fashion work, she earned master’s degrees from Yale University and from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her work has been part of TV series such as Emerald and films such as The Last Manhunt, The Quiet Ones, and Bloodstripe. Commercial campaigns featuring her work include those for the Chrysler Pacifica, Blue Diamond Almonds, and Verizon.
Chartow will be a faculty member in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, teaching composition and experimental sound practices. An electronic recording artist, touring musician, and a DJ professionally known as Laurel Halo, she has been a lecturer on electronic music composition and aesthetics at Aulus-les-Bains, France. Her live performances have included Southbank Centre in London, the Sydney Opera House, and Miraikan Museum in Tokyo. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Julanne Chidi Hill
Chidi Hill is part of the speech faculty in the School of Theater, having started teaching at the Institute in 2020. A former after-school drama teacher at the Greenway Arts Alliance in Los Angeles, she has been a performing arts teacher in the Pasadena Unified School District and a Shakespeare teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, among other teaching roles. She has been an actor on stage, television, and film and won honors including nominations for the Theater Guild Award and Broadway World Award. She earned a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film and a certificate from the British American Dramatic Academy President’s Club at Oxford University.
James “Cricket” Colter
Colter is a faculty member teaching hip hop dance in The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance. A professional street dancer and visual artist, he has more than 25 years of experience in the street-dance scene. He has had appointments at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where he taught hip hop dance. He has also taught open-movement classes in New York City at BRIC House, Broadway Dance Center, PMT Dance Studio, Peridance Center, and EXPG Studio.
Comen is a faculty member in stage management in the School of Theater. A former production director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic—where she oversaw all stage and concert operations, among extensive duties—she also has worked as a stage manager for the Los Angeles Opera, a producer for the Ojai Music Festival, and an assistant stage manager for the San Francisco Opera. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University.
Contreras is the director of the Print and Media Lab. She has been a print consultant; an adjunct faculty member in print and two-dimensional design at Santa Barbara City College; and a print lecturer at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her exhibitions have appeared at venues including the Angels Gate Culture Center in San Pedro, California, and the Rockport Center for the Arts in Rockport, Texas. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach.
Jacqueline Laurita Cortese
Cortese is the director of the Ceramic Lab. Experienced in ceramic fabrication, equipment, kilns, and glaze chemistry and application, she has been part of the special technical faculty and visiting faculty at CalArts. Her exhibitions have appeared in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Italy and elsewhere. She earned a master’s degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and a bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University.
Dorn (Film/Video MFA 02, BFA 00) focuses on character animation as a School of Film/Video faculty member. A life drawing and film design instructor at CalArts since 2013—her second stint as an instructor at the Institute—she is a former faculty member at the University of Hawaii. Earlier, she was a concept artist at Disney Feature. She earned a master’s degree in theater, video, and cinema directing, and a bachelor’s degree in character animation, both at CalArts.
Galvez (Art/IM MFA 16) is an Art Program faculty member in the School of Art. A former graduate student instructor at CalArts, she has been a visiting faculty member and program director at the Institute in more recent years. She has been a field workshop artist in residence at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and an artist in residence at the Women’s Center for Creative Work in Los Angeles. She earned master’s degrees from the Mountain School of the Arts and CalArts, where she focused on fine arts in Photo and Media and Integrated Media, and a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach.
Ki Jin Kim
Kim (Film/Video MFA 10) is part of the Film Directing Program faculty in the School of Film/Video. A cinematographer, filmmaker, and the co-founder of Nonetheless Production, he first joined the CalArts faculty in 2010. He has directed films including Lost LA, Keloid, and Who Are You? His distinctions include a Los Angeles Area Emmy Award and a Sundance Producing Summit Fellowship. He earned a master’s degree in film-directing from CalArts and a bachelor’s degree in film and theater from Hanyang University.
Marrero is a School of Film/Video faculty member in screenwriting and writing for narrative film. He began his career as an avant-garde filmmaker in New York City, where he studied experimental filmmaking at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. He has been a screenwriting instructor at CalArts since 2012. A member of the Writers Guild of America, he has written screenplays for companies such as Lakeshore Entertainment and ICON Productions. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Purchase College, State University of New York, and a master’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Alejandra Molina Rios
Molina Rios, a faculty member in the School of Film/Video, specializes in sound for the moving-image arts. She was head of the sound department at Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain, where she was responsible for teaching related to sound language in theory and practice. Her work in sound design and editing has appeared in films such as The Girls, Mom’s Movie, and Life without Sara Amat. She earned master’s degrees from Universidad de Barcelona and Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona and a bachelor’s degree from Universidad Del Claustro de Sor Juana.
Onoda is assistant director of the Photo Lab. A freelance photographer and a longtime printer and darkroom consultant, he is an expert in film processing, photo-lab hardware and chemicals, and framing for fine art. At a fine art photographic studio, he oversaw darkroom production of fine-art black-and-white images for leading photographers and supervised a team of printers. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York.
Pinson focuses on jazz drumset as a faculty member in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts. A percussionist who has toured internationally, he began his formal music training at age 6 with instruction on the piano. He performed professionally at Los Angeles-area jazz clubs while he was in high school. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the Berklee College of Music, where he was among seven musicians chosen for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned a master’s degree at UCLA.
Ransom will be a School of Art faculty member in the Art Program. He has been a visiting faculty member at Bennington College, a lecturer in the Department of Studio at Dartmouth College, and a visiting artist at Washington & Lee University, among other academic roles. His exhibitions have appeared at venues including Nearburg Gallery at Dartmouth, Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, and Staniar Gallery at Washington & Lee. He earned a master’s degree from Claremont Graduate University and a bachelor’s degree at Bennington College.
Regal is the reference and instruction librarian. She was a project manager at the California Rare Book School at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a writing instructor at the University of Georgia and at Hunter College. She is a board member at Horn Press at UCLA, among other leadership roles, and a poet. She earned master’s degrees at Hunter College and UCLA and a bachelor’s degree at New York University.
Rold is the director of curriculum for English language learners (ELL) and holds the ELL faculty position in the School of Critical Studies. She joins CalArts from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she taught a range of English-as-a-second-language and other writing courses. She earned master’s degrees from Boston University and the University of Toronto and a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College. A former Rotary Foundation Scholar in Nairobi, Kenya, she has worked in international development in China, Turkey, and East Africa.
Sélène, part of the School of Film/Video faculty, is a cinematographer and filmmaker with experience in digital cinema production and lighting. She was an instructor at the Los Angeles Film School and a lecturer at Chapman University, Elon University, and the School of Theater, Film & Television at UCLA. Her interests include cinematography theory, color theory, and documentary film and hybrid storytelling. She earned a master’s degree from the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television and a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.
Shank (Theater MFA 13) is faculty in theater metier studies in the School of Theater. A CalArts alum, she earned a master’s degree at the Institute in 2013 in writing for performance. She began work for CalArts as a graduate instructor in 2011 and has since been a producer of special projects, a theater admissions counselor, a faculty advisor, and career advisor, among other roles at the Institute. A playwright, she is an affiliated artist with the National New Play Network. At Emerson College, she finished her bachelor’s in writing, literature, and publishing in 2007.
Tamura (Music MFA 11) teaches music skills and theory in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts. She has been an instructor at CalArts since 2013. She’s also a piano teacher, a pianist, and a grindcore/punk guitarist, bassist, vocalist, and composer. She earned master’s degrees from CalArts and from San Francisco State University, and a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University.
Tanaka is a faculty member of The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, teaching composition and experimental sound practices. Part of the CalArts composition faculty since 2010, she has been a visiting associate professor at the University of Michigan and the Corwin chair of composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her compositions have appeared in films including Dr. Bala, Spring Time, and Your Mind. She is a voting member of the Recording Academy and was a fellow at the Sundance Institute Composers Lab.
Tavarez is a faculty member in contemporary dance in The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance. A movement educator, choreographer, and performer, she joins CalArts from the University of Southern California’s Kaufman School of Dance. There, as an adjunct assistant professor, she taught countertechnique and contact improvisation. She first taught at CalArts in the 2021-22 academic year, when her classes included countertechnique and composition. She earned a master’s degree from the Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Tolentino is an Art Program faculty member in the School of Art. She has been a Dean’s Scholar-in-Residence at the Steinhardt School of New York University and the Alma Hawkins Chair in World Arts and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. A performance installation maker, she develops work drawing from a variety of visual, archival, and movement strategies. She earned a master’s degree in choreography at the University of California, Riverside.
Ung (Theater MFA 12) is on the voice faculty in the School of Theater. A performer, educator, and creator, she began teaching at CalArts in 2015. Her teaching experience includes California State University, Los Angeles; California State University, Northridge; and New York Film Academy. She completed a master’s degree in acting at CalArts in 2012; she earned a bachelor’s degree in 2008 at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The California Arts Council named her an Established Artist Fellow in 2021.
Walter, part of the School of Film/Video faculty, has centered his recent work in part on human and machine error and collective anxieties. A cinematographer with experience in digital cinema production and lighting, he has screened films at the Berlinale, Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, and New York Film Festival, among others. He taught in the Department of Radio, Television and Film at Northwestern University. He earned a master’s degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Wentz is a faculty member in contemporary dance in The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance and first joined CalArts in 2018. He has led contemporary technique courses with an emphasis on post-modern styles and aesthetics. Since 2013, he has been a returning guest artist at Anna Therese de Keersmaeker’s conservatory in Brussels, Belgium. He earned a master’s degree at Bennington College and a bachelor’s degree at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.