Our Commencement speakers were internationally acclaimed painter April Gornik, and Zach James class of 2017.
April Gornik’s paintings, drawings and prints—depicting vast, uninhabited vistas of land, water or sky—have been collected widely, including by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the National Museum of American Art.
Gornik was born in Cleveland in 1953. She studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art before transferring to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where she earned her BFA in 1976. She is represented by the Danese Gallery in New York City, and has had one-person shows regularly since 1981.
Frontiers Reimagined, a group show at the Museo Grimani, was part of the 2015 Venice Biennale. Gornik’s work is currently featured in Seeing Nature, a traveling show of Paul Allen’s collection featuring Monet, Klimt, Turner and other great landscape painters. It originated at the Portland Museum in Seattle and will close at the Seattle Art Museum in early 2017.
Student speaker Zach James has been a devotee of games and their power to entertain, make people think, and create a space for shared experience. As a member of the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Class of 2017, and as a Game Design major, James has been a leader among his peers.
A member for three years of CIA’s Student Leadership Council, James was awarded the CIA Outstanding Student Leaders Award. He was one of four co-chairs of the 71st Student Independent Exhibition, presented in winter of 2017. He served as president for two years of the Digital Media Club. And he has been an orientation leader for three years, and headed that team for two.
James has worked within his field on a number of real-world projects. In 2015–16, he was an animator for 360° of Sight + Sound, a collaborative project with students from the Cleveland Institute of Music, presented at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He has been a freelance game artist and designer for ATBOSH Media Ltd. and Lemming Labs, and was a design intern at Deck of Dice Gaming LLC. As a senior, James served as project manager for The Care Bears in Care Package Chronicles, a series of web animations for American Greetings.
View photo albums from our 2017 Commencement: