5.6.2020 | Dear students: Thriving in the midst of difficult times
This time of year is usually a moment of pure joy for me. Spending the last week of the school year celebrating all that has been accomplished by you, the incredible students of CCAD, raising more than one glass to cheer you on at Chroma and the Fashion Show, giving thanks to all the work of our faculty and staff who made the year possible, and shaking the hand of every graduate who crosses the stage at commencement. By Saturday afternoon, my face muscles hurt from smiling, and I’m ready for a nap.
But this year, the moment is bittersweet. The classrooms are empty, the cafeteria is quiet, the campus is asleep. Of course, that doesn’t mean the work is not furiously continuing nor does it signal that celebrations are not in order. But, this academic year’s end must be acknowledged with long-distance high-fives and air hugs, online exhibitions and virtual graduations. And, I suspect that this Saturday afternoon, I will be weary from the hard work we’ve all been engaged in, but, sadly, not worn out in the way that only comes from excitement and fun.
Pride is a funny emotion. It can feel a bit presumptuous to be proud of someone else, so I hope you will excuse the slight parental undertone and allow me to say that I am so proud of all of you.
Let’s be honest, you were dealt a pretty terrible hand for the last half of the semester. Some of you contended with illness and loss in your families, others managed serious issues of unemployment and housing insecurity, and all of you navigated upheaval to your academic and artistic lives.
And yet, as artists and designers you are, by nature, creative problem solvers. There is a misconception that art is about anarchic freedom, but really, creative expression is about working within constraints and pushing against boundaries. While you may still be a little too close to the moment to see it, the challenges you faced this semester forced you to stretch, to grow in new ways, to thrive regardless of—or maybe because of—the circumstances. And that skill, perhaps more than any other you could have learned this past year, will carry you forward, through this pandemic, into your career, or back to campus in the fall.
Finally, speaking of fall, I want to close by saying to the returning students, I am eager for the campus to wake up from its long nap, and I can’t wait to welcome you back in August. We are diligently working out just what shape our fall semester together will take, but trust that we will be open and ready for you.
To that end, I will be hosting monthly Zoom conversations for you and your families over the summer with hopes of keeping you all up to date on our fall plans and answering any questions you may have. We’ll send reminders with further details but mark your calendars now for the third Thursdays at 5 p.m.—May 21, June 18, July 16, and Aug. 20.
I think this global pandemic has taught us many things, foremost of which is that the world needs artists and designers more than ever. It is your creativity that will entertain us, your humanity that will soothe our souls, your storytelling that will change our minds, and your ingenuity that will help us overcome our challenges.
Please keep that close to your heart while you’re away. And, until classes resume in the fall, be creative and be well.