“We’re just making it up as we go along.”
CURRENT INTERESTS: Sculptor; painter; social activist
CAREER: Professor of Architecture and Vice-Chancellor, UC Berkeley; Professor of Sociology, Pitzer College
Russ is articulate and full of ideas that come spilling out as he speaks. His laughter is frequent and infectious. He looks back at his many-faceted life, yet fully inhabits his present life of creativity and social activism.
I’ve gone slowly towards disengagement from academia. I was always “in school,” until I retired. I don’t want to call retirement a gift—it’s an offering.
In my painting and sculpture, my goal is to contribute to this extra-verbal world that is the world of art. People who got their art degrees and are well educated are obliged to make words. But they also know about that aspect of the human consciousness and interchange that’s about images, not words. So images are what I’m working with right now.
Also, I’ve turned to images as my response to Trump’s election. I send money to the Southern Poverty Law Center and make other kinds of contributions. I don’t march any more, but that’s just about age and endurance. Instead, every day through Facebook I send out an image of my own creation. It’s my contribution to an interchange that’s right-brain rather than text.
I’m always learning. As a person, I think I’ve always been that way. You follow your nose—especially since nothing rides on it. If it’s interesting and nothing rides on it, you’re in great shape!