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Today in
S.C.V. History
September 25
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]
Clampitt fire

Joining the California Institute of the Arts Fulbright community, Shirley Ji Young Kim-Ryu (Critical Studies MFA 2021) andAnais Arias-Aragon (Music MFA 2022) have been selected for the prestigious United States Student Fulbright program for the 2023-24 cycle.

A program from the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program allows selected applicants from the United States to pursue study, conduct research, or teach English in one of 140 countries worldwide, cultivating cross-cultural dialogue and professional opportunities.

One of the two selected applicants from CalArts, Arias-Aragon is a singer-songwriter, composer, and teaching artist who uses music under the stage name Anaís Azul as a form of community building, cross-genre collaboration, and collective healing. With a bachelor’s in music composition and theory from Boston University and a performer-composer MFA from CalArts, they have composed for theater, orchestra, and recording, recently releasing their EP Vulnerable.

Arias-Aragon will be heading to Peru in August to study the musical instrument Charango and learn Quechua, a language indigenous to the Andean region. Born in Peru, they immigrated to California at the age of four and are now going back to immerse themselves in the culture rooted within their identity.

“I’ve always felt very connected to Peruvian heritage,” Arias-Aragon said. “I am very excited to be in South America for a long period of time and intend to travel beyond Peru and connect with other charangistas, especially women and nonbinary people. The charango has no nationality.”

The charango is difficult to find within the United States, so Arias-Aragon started learning on the ukulele before finally acquiring a charango. Training virtually with Dore Munoz and Monique Mizrahi, Arias-Aragon has built the foundation for continued training during the nine-month Fulbright grant period.

Munoz connected Arias-Aragon with charango makers in Bolivia. Once in Bolivia, Arias-Aragon is “excited to meet my new charango.”

Arias-Aragon connected with a teacher in Peru, Kike Pinto Cardenas, and has been working through voice notes with mentors across continents.

“I am delighted with the energy I’m bringing in and the connections I’m getting through my teachers,” Arias-Aragon said. “I am a lucky kid. I have always been lucky, and this is just another moment of that.”

Since graduating from CalArts last year, Arias-Aragon has been teaching elementary schoolers music, as well as teaching a music fundamentals class at CalArts and writing their own music. Through the Fulbright, Arias-Aragon aims to create an album of 10 songs, translating from Spanish to Quechua, Quechua to Spanish, and incorporating charango and vocal looping techniques. This will build on multilingual reinterpretations already in the works.

Despite the lengthy application process, Arias-Aragon said the Fulbright program is something that is perfect for CalArtians. Through the guidance of Patricia Gonzalez, CalArts’ executive director of International and Community Partnerships, and a panel of CalArts faculty, Arias-Aragon was able to submit the best version of the required application.

“This is such an underrated artist fellowship,” Arias-Aragon said. “It is nine months where you are just making your art. You are creating creative projects through an intellectual lens, trying to hone your craft and investigate something. Let everyone in CalArts know that this grant is for you.”

Kim-Ryu, the second U.S. student Fulbright recipient from CalArts this year, is a poet and filmmaker with an MFA in film directing from UCLA and an MFA in poetry from CalArts.

Kim-Ryu has numerous accolades, including the 2022 LEF Moving Image Fund, Fritt Ord Foundation Grants, Nordisk Kulturfond OPSTART, Vikken Fund, Norwegian Film Institute Award, James Bridges Award in Film Directing, the Hollywood Foreign Press Award and Mary Pickford Award. Kim-Ryu is also a Voices of Our Nation poetry fellow.

Kim-Ryu’s films have been screened internationally, working with collaborators like Joey King, James Franco and McCaul Lombardi and co-founded the Los Angeles-based Solano Film Collective.

Born in Seoul, Kim-Ryu came to Los Angeles at a young age and has wanted to know more about the family ancestry and culture outside of Eurocentric values.

“I had true urges of wanting to know who I am and the land I am from,” Kim-Ryu said.

For the Fulbright Kim-Ryu will be traveling to the city of Kannur in Kerala, India, to study the Theyyam performing arts season. Kim-Ryu visited Kannur in 2018 and was struck by the performances and how they engaged the local community.

“I was very moved by this form of art that functioned as a community of people coming together and getting something from the performance,” Kim-Ryu said. “What is interesting to me is that this form of art developed from the lowest caste members, yet it is still revered in many ways.”

Though Indian culture is different from Korean culture in many ways, Kim-Ryu described feeling a sense of resonance and reflection when watching the performances, experiencing freedom, liberation, connection and curiosity.

Kim-Ryu has always been drawn to the idea of blurring the lines between art and community.

“I have always been interested in art functioning as a vehicle to create spaces where people understand and empathize with one another, a space for solidarity, fighting for the same cause, and realizing our struggles are actually very similar,” Kim-Ryu said. “I want to investigate where my artistic draws and inspirations come from. I will make something through film or writing, the form is currently undefined, but it will be a medium of kinship, not just extracting. The Fulbright was a good way to dig into this project that is in its initial stages.”

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