After a 30-year hiatus, SFAI’s student newspaper SFAeye relaunched this October by two undergraduate students Max Blue (BA, History and Theory of Art, 2018), Editor in Chief, and Cera Deibel (BA, History and Theory of Art, 2018), Assistant Editor. Their mission is that we all will keep an “eye” out and make SFAI history in real time.
What was your path in becoming a BA History and Theory of Art student at SFAI?
Max Blue (MB): I was undeclared and started in photography for the first few semesters as my major. My interests just changed the more time I spent in an academic setting. I was thinking about transferring for literature or creative writing and then, wound up taking the first unit of critical theory. In taking that course, I realized I didn’t need to go to the trouble of transferring to a new school. I had just overlooked the fact that I could change my major and obtain the same effect—the academic rigor that I wanted in my life.
Cera Deibel (CD): I also came here for the photography department. Right about when I got here, I somehow stopped taking photos. Not for lack of passion but just for change of environment perhaps. I think my tipping point was the realization that in having a foundation in a critical practice would help if I decided to pursue visual work again. It would be so much more valuable than just spending four years doing photography when I wasn’t really engaged with that practice.
How has the BA program influenced the pursuit of re-launching a student newspaper?
CD: Max and I recognized the lack of a forum for students to engage with and publish their work. We have a dream that people will publish essays in this publication. The BA program is such a small program that we’re in our own level. We don’t get as much attention; therefore, we don’t have a lot of space. We don’t have a Diego Rivera Gallery for writing. One of the main influences was that we kind of wanted a place to showcase written, critical work.
MB: In that way, I feel very much like the Eye is sort of half news source and half literary journal. A lot of universities are fortunate enough to have both. We had neither so we’re trying to make the best of what we’re able to pull together. Like what Cera says about every other major has kind of a forum for display: whether it’s essays, critical work or even journalistic work on the side, getting published is hard enough as it is for someone who’s trying to enter into a field where a lot relies heavily on being published regularly. This is about providing people with that experience, and having that experience ourselves.
CD: I think a lot of students here are unsure of how and where to even get published. I was in my thesis course with senior students who have this question. The day we first published, I had the paper with me and was like, “This is why we made this because getting published is difficult. It’s hard to find a place where your work fits.”
MB: I think along those lines too, with a literary journal or an art history journal or a theory journal, there’s much more of a juried process. The news sources component of the paper kind of forces us to stay open to publishing things that maybe we don’t like or even agree with, as long as the writing is sound…
The name comes from a student-run newspaper created by SFAI alumni. How did you unearth that publication and what about it inspired you?
MB: I started trying to pool together people who would be interested in reconstituting a publication that would be more along the lines of a traditional school newspaper. School newspapers exist and they’re possible. Trying to found a publication with little or no direct foundation seems a lot more difficult to do.
I work at the library very closely with Jeff Gunderson (Special Collections Librarian and Archivist at SFAI), so I asked him to let me look in the archives. He pulled out boxes of old back issues. There have been several, from the 1940s to the 1990s. Not all of them were SFAeye; the last Eye was in the 1980s. There were some other good ones in there like The Philistine and 800.
CD: After Max found SFAeye, he threw the name at me. I’m a sucker for puns. It’s just an excellent name.
SFAeye was founded in 1973 by Rance Haig. It spurred from a newsletter that was just called the SUC Newsletter for the student council. Then it turned into a newspaper in 1980. Other publications were a little more zany or experimental, which is great. We love that history. I think for our purposes, we really liked the idea of having a newspaper format that we could take in multiple directions.
How did you decide what to include in SFAeye?
CD: One thing that we found really important is that students often don’t really know things that are going on. Like the Graduate Center at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. I didn’t know, and I don’t think anybody on the undergraduate campus really knew that construction had started. That’s kind of a big deal. Why are these things not being talked about within the student body, you know?
MB: Another great example of that is Cera did very close coverage of the presidential search. I heard all around, up until the the week that the candidates came to present on campus, students didn’t even know that we were in the market for a new president. In part, it’s people’s own apathy. The other part is that I don’t think people should necessarily have to get up off the couch to know what’s going on around them on their campus, in their community. I think that information should be served to them as direct as possible. If the administration isn’t going to institute a way to do that, we’ll take it upon ourselves.
CD: We also have a focus on exemplifying or showcasing student work. We have profiles every issue, faculty and student and review shows. Those are our three main focuses: current events on campus, showcasing student work, and then, connecting to some of the culture and the history of SFAI.
What do you hope students will take away from SFAeye?
MB: I hope they take something away, but I also hope that they give something back to it. Which is not to sa y that I hope that they give something back to me or for my sense of fulfillment. It’s so that they give something back for their community and for themselves. I mean this is weird to say in this interview, but I don’t think that this has anything to do with me or is about me at all. I think it’s about the community and it’s about implementing something that should already have existed and had existed in the past. I’ve exhausted myself trying to understand why it went out of print for even a semester, let alone 30 years. I just can’t really comprehend it.
Even that brings about the issue for me, why is a newspaper not built in to student unions to some degree? Why is a school newspaper not something that the school implicitly funds and has built into the curriculum? For a whole multiplicity of reasons that aren’t even worth going into. I would hope that students take away the feeling of ownership over their own community and the newspaper as a way to vocalize themselves in that democracy.
What has the feedback and reactions been like?
CD: Generally, the feedback has been pretty great. Both from students and from the administration and board. I think it’s been pretty exciting to get a multitude of support from so many places. Because in the state that the school is in currently, they could not be supportive of us. It’s great that we kind of have that and we also have the ability to amplify student voice. You know people like the paper that we printed on. A lot of printmakers were all about the paper. We met the last editor of SFAeye, Kai Klaassen, who came to the launch. It was super exciting for us. We were dancing in the quad, we were just so hyped.
MB: That was crazy. It was like this very weird feeling of transcending this generational gap. Like meeting my favorite author or an author whose work I was continuing. The release, just in general, has just been super positive. There’s definitely a proactive group of students who are more involved with the first issue and more who are getting involved already.
CD: I think primarily people come to this institution for the history. I came here to connect with that history. I wanted to connect with the photography department and the rich history of the studio practices here. It’s been really nice to really connect with a different part of our history in such a direct way. Being able to hold our issue and make a new folder in the archives for our issue…That was fantastic.
MB: History is something that is usually retroactive, but to integrate yourself into it in real time is super exhilarating. It’s like living in the future a little bit.
What can we expect for the second issue and beyond?
MB: Twice as long, half as bad. More images, more text.
CD: We want to have a Dear Jeff column, like a Dear Abby. We’ll have to butter up him up. Our ideal goal at this moment is to have sfaeye.press functioning on a three posts per week basis. We definitely want a place where people can land on every week because there are so many things that are going on that need to be covered between a quarterly basis.
Learn more about SFAI’s BA degree program»
Image Credits: 1) Max Blue, editor in chief, SFAeye, 2016; 2) Cera Deibel, assitant editor, SFAeye, 2016; 3) Max Blue and Cera Deibel, 2016; 4) Max Blue, Cera Deibel, and Jeff Gunderson archiving SFAeye, 2016; 5) Max Blue and Cera Deibel, 2016. Photos by Marco Castaneda