Use the Force

Art Institute professor brings Star Wars to the classroom

As for the closing ceremony, Frankenstein's monster has nothing on Darth Vader and Chewbacca, who'll be making appearances (though not, alas, with Dave Prowse and Peter Mayhew in the costumes), as will the 501st, a group of hardcore fans who dress in painstakingly replicated Stormtrooper costumes and march in unison at such events as the Rose Bowl Parade and San Diego's Comic-Con. Effects gurus Phil Tippett and Ken Ralston will also be there to take questions.

Call it product placement for Lucasfilm, if you will—but it's actually more of an infomercial for the school itself. Essman explains: "We want them to come away saying, 'Yeah, this Star Warswas fun, and we had a great time this week.' But more than that, we want them to say, 'This is a cool place because you learn applied arts, and it's a practical way of learning, and even though I'm not going to be doing Star Wars the whole time, I'm gonna get to interact with faculty, have cool ideas, have industry ties, and that's the kind of education that I want at this time.'"

Essman: Skilled in the Jedi arts. Courtesy Art Institute
Essman: Skilled in the Jedi arts. Courtesy Art Institute

Bet you never had classes this cool in high school.

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