On Monday, May 11, SAIC celebrated the milestone of Commencement with undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate students and their families. At the ceremony, President Walter E. Massey announced the kick-off of SAIC’s 150th Anniversary year, which will include a full suite of events and celebrations beginning in the fall.
Honorary doctorate recipient, acclaimed contemporary artist Albert Oehlen delivered this year’s Commencement address. “What really separates us from a house painter is freedom,” Oehlen told graduates. He urged them to try new ideas and not to fear “bad art.” “Transcending everything is the arrogance of the materials with which we work…. This is what we should care about; this is what cares about us,” said Oehlen.
Other honorary doctorate recipients included Douglas Druick, President and Director of the Art Institute of Chicago museum. Druick’s remarks highlighted the power of the school and museum partnership. Rhona Hoffman, an influential Chicago gallerist told graduates to have “courage, resilience, optimism, [and] belief in yourself.” Janet Byrne Neiman, arts advocate and co-benefactor of SAIC’s LeRoy Neiman Center, received an honorary doctorate for her lifetime work as an artist and philanthropist. And Kanye West, pioneering recording artist, songwriter, producer and entrepreneur said, “I felt my nerves a bit and I don’t feel that feeling a lot. The nerves of humility and modesty when being honored—a humanization, a reality of being recognized.”