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Brooklyn, New York
Senior Director of Academic Computing and Support, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
As you read this, I hope you are able to find some comfort, take heart, and be encouraged with a simple, yet profound notion.
I am reminded that art and artists (I use this term broadly.) are extremely important in times of unrest and crisis, such as now.
It is precisely by the act of creating and embodying one’s inner vision—in whatever medium and by whatever means they are called—that artists (and all those in creative fields) counter fear, stasis, myopia, and depression that challenges everyone. It is the ability to envision something new, the practice of imagining and acting in new ways to accomplish our goals, and the discipline of repeatedly trying, failing, and re-trying that demonstrates to the world the possibilities that exist, that there are possibilities, and that there are other ways of thinking and acting in this moment. Creating is a form of generation and is life-giving, and that is your super power. Use it now. Share it with others.
I empathize with the anxiety and apprehensions you currently face. A tough deck of cards—a fact of life right now. You’ve completed an incredibly rigorous program that has primed you for limitless opportunity. Head high, I am excited for you!
Our class graduated in 2011, also a concerning time. My takeaways and suggestions:
Become an ACE in as many softwares as you possibly can (Revit, Navisworks, anything to enable the Architect/Engineer & Builder to more effectively collaborate).
Proficiency and fluency in software does NOT corner you into a specific type of work or production role. It is YOUR responsibility to navigate the circumstances of your passions, career, and positions you will take.
Acquaint yourself with the funding sources for the market sectors in our economy and more specifically, from WHERE will those funding sources originate. This will yield an understanding of where future architectural opportunities exist (for example, medical versus retail).
It was a very different time when I graduated in 1965, and it’s hard to imagine what you are going through now, but I want to encourage you to keep on creating. Creating has uplifted me in so many ways and given me the inspiration to keep going. I remember times when I’d come home from my 9 to 5 job exhausted and would pick up my brush and get a whole new life. So don’t let the current situation get you down. Pick up that brush or chisel or brayer or whatever you use and get renewed. We’ll all get through this together and art will contribute to that in a big way.
Congratulations to all of you for getting this far. Keep on keeping on and stay safe.
My painting is called “Six Feet.”
Brooklyn, New York
Events & Space Use Manager, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity
Be flexible! I knew making art would be hard, but I also knew that finding a job would be key (I could eat! Pay the rent! Go out sometimes!). My biggest piece of advice is to TALK TO PEOPLE! This is how you build your community. It can also be how you get really interesting jobs. I talked to a neighbor in NYC and ended up managing the office of the oldest printmaking studio in the country. From there, I kept in touch with one of the artists and worked for him. Then I worked for his dealer and became the director of her gallery for 18 years. Now I work managing all kinds of cultural events at St. Ann’s like The Moth, book talks with Zadie Smith, Mona Eltahawy, DeRay Mckesson, and Steven King, concerts with Patti Smith, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, and theater projects with Theater of War. I love the work I do, and guess what—I still make art. I show sometimes and even sell sometimes! Keep going, but keep talking, too!
Sam Fox and I graduated in 1951!!! That year I was awarded the John T. Milliken Travel Scholarship, and Sam continued to excel in business and contribute to WashU. I feel it is important to realize that your education, along with your endeavors, were made possible primarily because of Sam Fox… He made ‘things’ happen! I am so sorry that you will not experience the usual graduation ceremony. It is certainly a major disappointment! However, you will be extremely proud to be a graduate of WashU.
Charlotte Obst Barbaresi
Personal Stylist, J. Hilburn
I am so sorry the end of your year was taken from you. I know you had big things planned, celebrations of all your hard work. You deserved that. I hope right now you are creating, using this time to further your art and explore the way you see the world. I hope you will share it with us. I would love to see your paintings, drawings, fashion, sculptures, photography. I want to see it all! Know that all of the alums are so proud of what you have achieved so far, and we know this experience will inform your creations in ways that you will come to see as wonderful in time. You will come out stronger; we all will. Wishing you health and happiness!
Associate, David Baker Architects
Don’t fret, 2020. Challenges present unique opportunities for design! You are all now equipped to help and to make the world a better, more efficient, and more equitable place for all. Consider this time a call for action!
Be proud, be patient, and congratulations! I am excited to see your contributions start to take root!
Congratulations on your having achieved the status of graduate. I know from my own experience way back in 1960 that it was an arduous goal. At that time, the “inmates” of Givens were struggling to complete their thesis projects including multiple “all-nighters” but miraculously most everyone managed to put together the necessary documentation to finish. At the time, the technology was T-squares, triangles, pen and ink, handmade models, as opposed to the highly computerized processes you currently use. Now, you can be confident that you have received the most advanced tools to enable you to enter professional practice that Washington University and your seasoned professorial staff have enabled. Best wishes for you and your potential contribution to the field of architecture.
Brooklyn, New York
Artists have a “Sense of Invention,” and today, need as well a philosophy of “Expecting the Unexpected!” As a 1965 WashU graduate with a BFA in painting, I recommend remaining open to new technology and adapting to re-education to develop new skills. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to study U4ia, a CAD program originally developed for aeronautical texture mapping (and also, in conjunction, Photoshop) in order to utilize these skills towards a career in textile print design! As an offshoot idea, I stacked up in CAD programs my ink drawings of wild plants from the Hawthorne Conservation Area to create, in gouache watercolor, a new approach towards paintings, which to my surprise, were juried into exhibitions at The State Capital in Pennsylvania, The Watercolor Honor Society in Springfield, The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, and Salmagundi, in New York City.
Best of luck to Washington University graduates!