After 16 years at UC Santa Cruz, working in the science division, Karen Meece is enjoying her role as the Executive Assistant to the Arts Dean, which she started last May.
“Dean Celine has a lot of great vision, and I think she’s really leaning in on student success,” Meece said. “I just came from being a grad advisor in the sciences here on campus, so being student forward is really important to me.”
Meece, says being half Filipina herself, she was particularly excited to work with UC Santa Cruz’s first woman-of-color dean in the Arts Division. Also, since Meece studied Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, she feels comfortable working in the arts.
“The sciences are great, and I learned a lot of cool things from the students, and they get so excited about the science,’” Meece said. “But coming here, I feel like when I’m talking to a student or a professor about their research, they’re using words I understand, talking about composition of music, for example, or artists talking about color theory. I’m like, ‘Oh, okay, I learned about color theory in college. I can have a conversation with you. This is great.’”
Working at the division level, Meece says she gets to know what all the different departments are doing. She works with division staff on the Sesnon Salon every third Thursday events, where one department will showcase what they’re doing, and she likes hearing about what’s going on in all of the Arts Division’s departments.
Hearing that graphic artist Shepard Fairey, known for designing the Barack Obama “Hope” posters in the 2008 presidential campaign, was in a UC Santa Cruz Arts and Activism event last May, Meece, a fan of Fairey’s, was inspired to get a print of a printing press from the artist, “Print & Destroy.”
Meece worked on a printing press in college, and a quote the artist had on his website about the piece made her feel it was meant for her:
“Some people say print will be wiped out by digital media, but I say you can never replace the provocative, tactile experience of a print on the street or in a gallery. Printing still matters."
Meece was so excited about the print and to be working at a place that hosted artists like Fairey, that she emailed Dean Celine with a photo of the print after she hung it on her wall.
Like Fairey, music has a big impact on Meece, and she loves seeing concerts. This month, she plans to go to a sold-out Bad Religion show in Reno. Closer to home, Meece also enjoys going to see bands at the Catalyst Club and going to San Jose to see plays.
Meece grew up in the small town of Los Osos in San Luis Obispo County, and she wanted a change after finishing college. She had visited her best friend in Santa Cruz, liked it, and decided to relocate.
“I graduated on a Saturday, and I packed up my car and moved up here on a Sunday,” she said. “I’ve been here ever since.”
When choosing her major in college, Meece looked for something not too narrow.
“I wanted to not put myself in a box, and I was just trying to find the broadest degree I could. When I was flipping through the catalog, I saw this degree called Graphic Communication. And I thought, ‘That's interesting.’ It seemed rather broad, encompassing the print industry and working with artists and other media.”
That degree led her to this job, Meece says.
“My concentration at Cal Poly was in Design Reproduction Technology,” she said. “Which means I was always meant to work with artists.”