Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

Commencement Speaker and Honorary Doctorate Recipient
Mel Chin Headshot

Mel Chin

Mel Chin conveys complex ideas and themes through a mutative strategy, working alone or employing multiple disciplines and people, compelled by researched concepts. From such critical means, actions, films, and objects are realized. His Revival Field (1991) was at the forefront of "green remediation," using plants to remove toxic metals from the soil. From 1995-1998 he formed the collective the GALA Committee, which produced In the Name of the Place, a public art project conducted on American prime-time television. His actions for the Fundred Project (2008-2020) to end childhood lead-poisoning activated mass public engagement. He has produced original films such as 9-11/9-11 (2007), L'Arctique est Paris (2015), and most recently, She’s Not There (2020). In 2018 he filled New York’s Times Square with Wake, on the ground, and Unmoored, in the air, creating an experiential portal into a past maritime industry and a future of rising waters. Chin exhibits internationally and is the recipient of many awards, grants, and honorary degrees, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 2019. 

Honorary Doctorate Recipients
Black and White Image by AfriCOBRA

AfriCOBRA: Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, and Gerald Williams

The African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA) is a Chicago-based group of artists who defined the visual aesthetic of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s. Founded in 1968 by artists Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell (SAIC 1959–61), Wadsworth Jarrell (DIPLOMA 1958), Barbara Jones-Hogu (BFA 1964), and Gerald Williams (SAIC 1966–67), the collective was dedicated to empowering Black communities and creating functional art that expressed statements of truth, action, or education. AfriCOBRA formed after several of the artists worked together on the Wall of Respect, a mural on Chicago’s South Side depicting celebrated Black leaders that sparked a community mural movement across the country. The work of AfriCOBRA has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, the Broad museum in Los Angeles, and the 2019 Venice Biennale.

Katherine Sherwood Headshot

Katherine Sherwood

Katherine Sherwood is a mixed media artist whose work investigates where art, medicine, and disability intersect. A professor emerita at University of California, Berkeley in the Art Department and the Disability Studies Program, Sherwood is also the artist-in-residence at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and the co-founder of the art and disability collective Yelling Clinic. She is the recipient of many grants and awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant. Her work is represented in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Ford Foundation, New York; the de Young museum, San Francisco; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; the Crocker Museum, Sacramento; and the San Jose Museum of Art, among others. She is represented by the George Adams Gallery in New York, the Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles, and the Anglim Gilbert Gallery in San Francisco.