Written by MFA@CIIS candidate, Nathan Dean Talamantez.

The two books I’ve written, Sacred Fool and The Texifornia Border, have followed a single thread: Self-healing. But while writing them I felt like a burn victim being manually exfoliated. I was often reminded of the quote by psychologist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl: “What is to give light must endure burning.” But the Spring semester of 2021 promised something new.

I’d just finished prying my psyche apart penning my graduate project and looked forward to falling in love with cicadas or comets, something requiring a low emotional commitment that might earn me…

by Meg Hayertz, MFA ‘16

7 of Fire: Alan Saint Clark (IG@alan_t_clark)

How many times has a critique left you thinking: How the hell am I going to make these changes? I’m not good enough. Could I contort myself into being good enough? I should quit. But I don’t want to quit. I’ll force good writing out of me like toothpaste out of an empty tube. Or maybe I can think my way to an easy solution. I need chocolate. Or a beer? A chocolate stout. That will solve this.

I hope you’ve spared yourself inner monologues like this one, but if this feels familiar, I can…

MFA Core Faculty member and writer Carolyn Cooke is thinking a lot about the future of cities, and the future of humans in cities

“I Contain Multitudes” is short piece I wrote recently for Journal of the Plague Years, an online journal edited by the intrepid journalist Susan Zakin that offers a sexy take on politics, culture, and music. My piece is about three books that are helping me understand why US history functions as fiction: stories we tell ourselves about the past that prevent us from imagining a more inclusive, better future.

I’m also thinking a lot about the…

Newly published author and current MFA candidate Dean Talamantez talks to us about what went into the making of his first published book, Sacred Fool. The book was created as a gift to famed Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Cover image for Sacred Fool, Dean Talamantez’s new book

What is the origin story of your interest in Jodorowsky? Are there particular pieces of work or themes he explores that really speak to you?

I see Alejandro as a visual poet. My initial introduction to his work was the 1989 film Santa Sangre, which is considered his return to the Panic Movement that he helped found in the 60’s in Paris…

MFA Program Coordinator Megan Jacobs reflects on connecting within the MFA Program in the Age of Virtualization

As we are coming around to a full year since the pandemic changed life as we know it, I have been reflecting on the nature of how we interact with one another.

For so many of us, the pandemic has made it so that we have to engage in an online format with people we knew and spent face-to-face time with pre-pandemic. This has been challenging, to say the least. But what about forging new relationships in the virtual space?

As the Program…

Led by guidance received in her dreams, MFA@CIIS graduate Lola Victor has moved, painted, and published beyond borders.

MFA alum Lola Victor in front of one of her paintings

My inquiry as an MFA candidate into my own narrative as an artist and a person was the seed that developed into my MFA project, propelled me into a post-graduation international relocation, landed my murals international space, and got my writing published in CURIOUS Magazine. All of these things were led by guidance and visions from my dreams. It has been a journey that is ever-unfolding.

My deep passion for art that connects people across borders and connects them to the realization…

MFA@CIIS graduate Heidi Kraay describes the creative process that has supported her for years.

Playwright, writer, and theater-maker Heidi Kraay. Photo by Chaz Gentry

The creative process I can count on listens to the underbelly of my mind, taking myself apart and putting me back together. Later I pick up the pieces and type what resonates, but more important is holding a pen, tracing each blue line: the physical act of writing. …

Candidate for an MFA@CIIS Dean Talamantez shares his thoughts after curating a showcase of creative work from MFA alumni

There is a strange building in San Francisco at 10th and Mission with a Zen garden on its roof where student counselors, psychologists, and artists alike use a holistic approach to study consciousness.

Among the offered paths of academia, California Institute of Integral Studies’ MFA department is a quiet program — quiet in that it doesn’t tout its accomplishments. Like the Room of Requirements at Hogwarts, the professor’s heads are brimming with endless objects, but none will clink out until required.

When I was searching for the perfect MFA program, I asked CIIS Professor Carolyn Cooke about the program’s publishing…

Artist, writer, curator, producer and CIIS MFA graduate Marie Marković invites you to dive into imagined elsewheres

The line between audience and performers is blurred at Marie Marković’s “A RETROSPECTIVE”. Photo: Deirdre Visser

In the Before times…

I was working on an immersive performance. It’s the form that resonates the most with me, on stage. Having the audience participate in the work, completing the beauty and the meaning by receiving it, and gifting their response. I came to a point in my lifelong exploration of performance where I just couldn’t do the thing where I am on stage and you are all looking at me. I froze. …

Tribeca Film Festival Winner Jessica Habie’s new workplace drama Here She Comes attempts to push the conversation around sexual intimacy past its final taboo: reality.

Jessica Habie, the filmmaker who created Mars at Sunrise and several award-winning documentaries about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, graduated from California Institute of Integral Studies, earning her Masters of Fine Arts in the Summer of 2018. Her new television series, Here She Comes, seeks to entertain, educate, provoke dialogue, and, ultimately, make your sex life better. We had a chance to catch up with her this summer in the form of the following interview.


Blog of the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing program at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.

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