We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ara Jo, a former library Artist-in-Residence at Berkeley City College. Ms. Jo perished in the Oakland warehouse fire on Friday, Dec. 2. She was part of an artistic community who breathed an abundance of creative life into our East Bay cities. Our sincerest condolences go out to Ms. Jo’s family, to those who knew and worked with her, and to the many others who lost loved ones in the fire.
A native of the Los Angeles area, Ms. Jo was a member of The Rock Paper Scissors Collective, a volunteer-run East Bay organization that fosters creativity and collaboration in order to strengthen local communities and encourage sustainable practices. She also was a founder of Oakland’s Sgraffito Gallery and worked at Berkeley’s Ink Stone Reprographics.
During her time at BCC, Ms. Jo created the foundation for a Zine library at the college. The vivacious, creative and talented artist and writer worked with many BCC classes and instructed students on how to self-publish Zines to express their artistic, literary and creative gifts. Faculty members Jenny Braman (Art), Heather Dodge (Librarian), Tom Moniz (English), and many others collaborated with her as she worked with classes, in the library, and on the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Festival, held annually at BCC.
Ms. Jo’s contributions to the creative fabric of BCC’s learning community and to the East Bay will enrich us for many years to come. In these difficult times, we can all take a moment to reflect on the Oakland warehouse fire and how Berkeley City College and our sister colleges can engage with our cities to find ways to provide safe and affordable dwellings for all.
In community spirit,
Rowena M. Tomaneng, President
Celebration of the Life and Work of Ara Jo
The life and work of Ara Jo will be celebrated at the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest on Saturday December 10 from 10am to 3pm at David Brower Center, at 2150 Allston Way in Berkeley.
There will be a table dedicated to those who perished in the Ghost Ship fire where you can also donate to their families.
Berkeley City College’s art and literary journal Milvia Street will have a table that we have open for all BCC students with zines and chapbooks.
Ara was so fundamental in making sure the EBABZ continued in face of many challenges.