May 23, 2013
It's like the academy awards and the last day of camp rolled into one. It is joyful and poignant-it is literally the first day of the rest of "their" lives. It is Commencement.
By Lane Cooper
Every year at CIA, the last three weeks of the spring semester take on an urgency, as seniors scramble to put their work into the world. All the classes, all the crits and presentations were but a prelude to this moment as they earnestly transition from students to professionals. It is a fearless leap, full of magic. Walking through the BFA exhibits, listening to the student defenses—the remarkable work that these emerging artists and designers have produced never ever fails to amaze. This year we could enter a world transformed by glitter and superhero “grandmas” (Kristen Magerkurth ’13, Painting), find real resources to deal with traumatic grief (Carly Bartel ’13, Biomedical Art) or see the future in the design of a hybrid-powered personal vehicle (Andrew Schad ’13, Industrial Design), as just a few samples.
The energy of the week comes to a climax with the BFA party as we come together to celebrate their achievements. Effusive, funny, and joyful, the party sets the tone for the week leading up to commencement. Students and faculty spend the week celebrating, saying goodbye, and preparing for the days after graduation.
The ceremony itself offers a moment of reflection and final words of wisdom from the Institute. This year’s speaker, renowned illustrator and designer, David Lee Csicsko ’80, in recounting how a one-time firing opened important doors for his career, made it clear that failure was a necessary step on the path of success. The highlight of the day came though when Josh Maxwell ’13 delivered the student address. His words gave us a moment of reflection as he reminded the graduates and the CIA community as a whole all that we had been through together. In eloquently invoking the memory of Brandon Cartellone, a student tragically killed before his junior year, Josh reminded us of Brandon’s passion and commitment. In doing so Josh reminded us as well that we go forward not only for ourselves but for our communities and for those who can’t go forward with us.His speech hit the right note of celebration and remembrance as we step into the future, greeted by the opportunity to build and create a world worth living in.
Lane Cooper is an Associate Professor in Painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art.
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