Dearest Class of 2020,
There is no denying this is really tough. No matter what your personal circumstances are, society is turning on its side. This is really uncomfortable. Let yourself feel the disappointment. Take good care of your body, mind, and spirit; they are your dearest asset. Since things aren't business as usual, you can be even more innovative. You have an advantage in being able to dig deep.
Try new things
Listen to people you value
Follow your creative impulse
Come together with others. School friends can be among your closest and best resources once you leave school. Foster those relationships.
Expect ups and lows repeatedly. That's my experience in more than 30 years since my education. Some of you will continue to make, some won't, and some will return to the arts when it's a better time for you. That's natural, and it's okay.
Sincere wishes for the well-being of you and of others,
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Art Teacher, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Congratulations on completing an art or architecture degree. I know you worked hard, slept little, and occasionally cried after (or during) critiques. Your final semester probably didn't go the way you had envisioned, and it's okay to grieve that loss. But now it's time for you to navigate your life as an artist, designer, creator, or what-have-you, and that is exciting! It's okay to take a break from creating and come back to it later, but I highly recommend finding a community to engage with, be it real or virtual, that will keep you grappling with creative challenges. Congratulations again, stay safe, and best wishes for wherever you're headed next!
Brooklyn, New York
Founder, Studio PHH Architects
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Maybe not in this case but I believe this moment affords us a chance to re-evaluate our goals and to gain the perspective required for happiness and success; a rare break in the rat race that most graduating seniors from a top school like Wash U (me included) are likely to join.
Spend the free time that is forced upon each of us by this event to focus on what does make you stronger. For me these are as follows and each is actionable:
- Strengthen the relationships made over the last several years and remember that each plays a critical yet often unpredictable role in our lives.
- Write down life goals: create "mantras" that allow you to look back at the past and look forward to your future with certainty that you are working towards the goals you wanted for yourself.
- Giving is the most rewarding, and the rewards come in many forms. The world is big and we are in this together.
- Invest in knowledge. Your head is your greatest asset.
Brooklyn, New York
Dear Class of 2020,
I went to WashU for an MFA in sculpture program from 2003 to 2005.
Before that, I was in the middle of apprenticeship of Japanese lacquer craft art in Japan. But I decided to come to the US to improve my English for some issues.
Things changed 180-degrees for my unexpected life experience. At the age of 27, I instead had to take art class in New Orleans and ended up earning a BFA. It changed my career, as I then pursued my MFA.
When I decided to study art at age of 27, I was extremely anxious and even in a foreign country. It was not my first choice, and I did not know much of the future career path...
Fifteen years later, I am now a professional artist in New York City with a two year-old baby! This COVID-19 emergency time: all of my job were gone even, ugh. But I am so thankful to have life now. Even if it was not by natural cause, my detour life probably has given me more enriched experience and makes it easier to get over some struggles.
Be safe first. Don't worry about school; rather, do what you can do!
Here is my impression of the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) in Old Jerusalem. "Via Dolorosa" (Acrylic 12" x 16")(1998). Today, Via Dolorosa is a bustling thoroughfare. But the solemn aspects of the sorrowful way are still present with preserved stations of Christ's torturous path to his crucifixion and resurrection, purportedly where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is now located. Carol and I were in Jerusalem in 1998, along with our photographer son Curtis and his wife, Deborah. Good company; magnificent experience.
Best regards and best of good luck to the class of 2020! Stay well!
Cedric Hustace, Honorary Member of Class of 1955
Carol (Jameton) Hustace, Member of Class of 1955 - BFA '55 (Fashion Design), MAT '72 (Education)
"If there is no happy ending, make one out of cookie dough."
As a father with twins graduating high school this spring, I very much sympathize with the absurdity that you may be feeling. Cooper Edens was shared by my favorite instructor, Sheldon Helfman, a color theorist at the Sam Fox School. I used many of Eden's illustrations in my presentations. Though I enjoyed critiques as much as anyone, it is my instructors/critics that I remember: Laura Miller, Richard Sommer, Adrian Luchini, James Harrison, Bob Hansman, Ian Frazier, Udo Kultermann, and Dean Michaelides. Even as a hot glassmaker, I lean on their lessons everyday. I am so very happy that they are a part of my story. Fortunately, you have much time for designing and making. Givens Hall is a magical place with magical people. And who doesn't like cookies?
Casey Hyland, Class of 1995
Los Angeles, California
Sometimes the strangest, seemingly darkest times are when the seeds are planted for the greatest creativity and growth. Allow for the experience of loss and retreat, and all levels of reconsideration, knowing it is only an unexpected winter—and some day, however far in the future, there will be a balance of unexpected spring and summer.
St. Louis, Missouri
Let my personal story be my message:
I am an immigrant mother-artist who lost her only job and a major art-public speaking opportunity. But I continue to create, perhaps to stay sane, and for my child.
In difficult times, it is our art that keeps us alive. Keep creating. This too shall pass.
Director of Recruitment and Outreach, University of Arkansas School of Art
Hello Class of 2020!
I hope you are all well and safe during this time. There are no words to make sense of this. And I'm also not going to try to chalk it up to a "new normal," as this is far from anything we could have expected.
What I will do is tell you that you are incredible. In a time that should be stressful because of mostly good things that come along with graduation and exhibitions, you've had to pivot to now addressing needs that may have come up for you about food insecurity, unemployment, health care, all while trying to stay productive and mentally healthy.
But we're artists. Navigating complex situations with few resources: We've been there. When given a task, we are resourceful and understand that the work takes time. Please know that I am thinking of you and hope that you're doing okay. Things will not always be this way, but I have to hope that we'll come out better and more connected.
Stay safe and hopeful, and ask for help! We're here!
Fashion Design Students of the Class of 2020,
So sorry for you that the fashion show was cancelled, as well as your graduation and all of the festivities that accompany these special events. Maybe they can have an Internet fashion show where your projects can be photographed and shared. I was so looking forward to my 50th class reunion for the class of 1970 and seeing many friends from all over the US and overseas. WashU does a great job with reunions, and my husband and I attended his 50th last year. If nothing else gets planned, at least you will have reunions to look forward to.
Thinking of you,
Cheryl Dowd Jordan, BFA 1970
Partner, 1/1 Studio
Dear Class of 2020,
I can only imagine how disheartening it must be for you to have your final semester and graduation festivities so abruptly cut short in these unprecedented times. And I am sorry for your loss. Please take comfort in knowing that it always feels too soon to leave the Washington University community, regardless of circumstance.
Let me have the honor of being one of the first to welcome you to the community of architecture and the fine arts. You have earned a place in this community by virtue of your dedication and talent. I heartily and sincerely congratulate you.
Having graduated during a recession myself, I know the world can look dauntingly difficult right now. No doubt you will doubt yourself. But know that you have the talent and the education to succeed. Hold your beliefs steady in your heart and take action without fear of failing. This is but a brief moment in time. It just so happens it is your time. There is much to be done!
St. Louis, Missouri
Cheers to you all!
I know the future seems more unknown than it ever has been, but it has always been unknown: Our narratives of it make it feel controlled.
Things will always happen that completely change the direction of your life. For me, it was going to a conference as a volunteer right after graduating from WashU and meeting someone who raved about the program they just graduated from. Four years later I had sold most of what I had and boarded a one-way flight to a graduate program I never visited in Reading, England (photo from that time at our local pub). I had no idea what would come of making that leap. It was scary, but it turned into a career I would have never expected or foreseen.
You have accomplished much already; more is to come. All my best to you and the unknown. May both surprise us in delightful ways!
Associate, SKB Architects
I graduated at the end of 2011 when the global economy began to recover from the Great Recession of 2008. Design services and construction were still impacted, and layoffs were all too common to be considered news. It was a daunting time to be graduating since many alumni a year or two ahead had yet to find a job or left the architecture field altogether. And a little more then a decade later, the architecture world is experiencing deja vu.
As someone who survived the 2008 crisis, I say, you will survive, too. Think of bad economical times as a design problem and what ways the architecture industry can be more resilient. Use this opportunity to equip yourself with the learned academic skills because design and critical thinking are tools that can be used beyond the architectural field. Architecture is bigger than what you mind think it is.
South Bend, Indiana
Dear Class of 2020,
Just like college I have put off writing this until crunch time when I'd "cram" for exams, projects due, etc. Washington University gave me a solid foundation in art, one that served me well. I taught art for 29 years in the public schools. During those years I exhibited professionally both in group and one-person shows. I was the state chairperson for the Women's Caucus for Art and volunteer exhibits chair for a gallery. Wow, sorry to go on, but my art training has served me well, and I trust will carry you throughout your career. Just this year, I was a featured artist in For the Love of Art Fair in South Bend, Indiana at age 78.
I wish you all well and encourage you to keep making art.
Natalie Klein, Class of ’64
New Orleans, Louisiana
Architect & Urban Designer, Waggonner & Ball Architecture/Environment
Hunter S. Thompson once said, "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." There's no doubt that the going is getting weird... but think about how you are prepared for the challenges ahead! Spatial thinking, holistic problem solving, and envisioning a compelling future—these are core skills and practices that you have and the world needs. Normative practices of design will continue to shift in response to global health and climate challenges, and you are well positioned to be right in the middle of it all. Stick with it and think of this all as a "difficult site" that demands ingenious design thinking.
Lambertville, New Jersey
Publisher, Art and Architecture, Princeton University Press
It can be challenging coming out of college at any time. There isn't always a clear path to the next thing, no matter the world's circumstances. But artists and visual thinkers are more able than many to create or forge their own paths, rather than follow existing ones. Times of major transition can also present new opportunities, ways of thinking, and ways of being in the world. The world needs these new approaches now more than ever. If this seems daunting, take small steps. A lot of small steps equal a route, and a route is built over a duration of time.
When I graduated no one could have told me where I'd be in five years. It was a field, book publishing, with which I was only vaguely familiar. I did not land here right away, the process took four years, and began much earlier, before I was even aware of it. You are already on your way. Congratulations, graduates—we welcome and need your energy, spirit, innovation, and dedication, now more than ever.
St. Louis, Missouri
Chairman and Principal, PGAV
To the class of 2020:
You are the future. That makes you very important to me, and to the world that will soon become yours to shape with your ideas, your talent, and your persistence.
And the world will shape you, too. You are starting out in unique circumstances, and I greatly regret that you will not have a graduation celebration nor the fortune of a robust job market. No one would blame you for being a bit discouraged.
But I predict that transcending discouragement will become one of your generations' superpowers. I believe that you will tackle creative challenges with greater determination and energy than we preceding generations. Perhaps most importantly, your creativity will be fueled by a higher sense of empathy for the challenges of others. I consider this last trait to be critical in any designer.
Stay close and encourage each other. If I can offer advice, reach out to me: linkedin.com/in/mike-konzen/
Be safe, healthy, and successful. We believe in you.
St. Louis, Missouri
President, KRJ Planning and Research
The human race has dealt itself a terrible blow with the coronavirus. My heart goes out to each and every one of you for having this happen at a time that should be of joyful fellowship with classmates.
I have been privileged to see the efforts of Hongxi Yin's class towards completing the entry to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Solar Design Decathlon. Once classes resumed after spring break, we kept communicating with one another in a team relationship through the Internet. This team of architecture and engineering students continued their teamwork and are now, five days before the deadline, nearing completion. Best of luck as you approach the finish line!
It is certain that this is only one example of a class that quickly adjusted to electronic communication only and are making progress towards the finish line and beyond.
Owner, Leaf Design Associates
I graduated in 1980 from the School of Architecture (and again in 1983 with a master's degree) and was planning to attend our 40th reunion in April. I am so disappointed to not see WashU, as it would have been my first time in 30 years. So I can't imagine the disappointment all of you graduates are feeling, but I do have a few words of ADVICE:
1. Take chances with your life.
2. Take chances with your architecture career.
3. Be bold.
4. Work hard AND play hard.
5. Recognize the key moments in your life—"decision points"—if you can. These are the doors to new phases.
6. Find someone to love, a "partner" to share your life and make decisions with.
7. This is a crazy and surreal time not just for you, but for EVERYONE in the entire world, of any age, and experience in any country. As with all things, this, too, shall pass...
8. When you are on the other side of this experience, go give 'em hell!
Best to all!
London, United Kingdom
My thoughts are with the graduating class of 2020. You graduate into a world that is recognizably more fragile. The key challenge for you (and all of us) is to not revert to business as usual after the pandemic is over. Instead, we need your knowledge, curiosity, energy, and perseverance to challenge the status quo and create a new normal that protects life and the planet. You have learned to think and we need fresh thinking and new practices to transform our cities, buildings, and lives.
Principal, DLR Group
CHEERS TO YOU ALL! You are all such strong people, giving up the end of your college experience. Being part of the Class of 2020 under these conditions is going to make you all closer, lifelong friends. More than anyone else will ever understand. You are (hopefully) the only class that will ever have this experience. You are ready to take on the world and prove that this experience has made you a better citizen. You will succeed more than we can imagine. I look forward to you joining our community of design professionals.
Cheers to you and may your successes start immediately. Travel together often and far. Take the world by storm, and show them you are the best to come in.
Similar to when a child is born early, "And though she be but little, she is fierce," you are sent away from school early, but you are going to succeed more than we can imagine.
Congrats and best wishes to you,
Brooklyn, New York
Congratulations! I was so impressed by the work I saw when I was last at WashU for my 45th reunion. I was a painting major in 1973 with an eye toward becoming a costume designer. WashU encouraged my work with the Drama Department as well as on my painting. I'm happy to say that 44 years later I am still a costume designer, and I still enjoy painting! I've been able to make a living while considering myself an artist. I encourage all of you to continue being creative in this time of the plague. It, too, will pass, and you may find something within yourselves that you can express and help heal the world. Art can change hearts and minds. I've witnessed it and believe you can be the agents for hope and change as well. I wish you all good luck and hope you will find and live your dreams.
San Diego, California
President & CEO, Malick Infill Corp
I graduated with two master's degrees from WashU in 2009. With job prospects non-existent, I was forced to find my own way. Having invested years in my professional development, I wasn't willing to give up on architecture and urban design as a career path. More than 10 years later, I look back at my situation at graduation and am grateful I graduated during a recession. I now have my own design and development company. Had I been given a job out of school, I likely wouldn't have chosen this path. Remember, put yourself in a place where you have no option but to succeed, and you will surpass your expectations.
Principal, SNDBX Design and Architecture
Greetings and well wishes!
Liz and I will sorely miss seeing you all this April at Reunion. WashU holds a special place in our hearts—not only for the nurturing of a lifelong curiosity about the world, but for providing the opportunity for us to meet and be together! Having met at our 20th, we were greatly looking forward to reconnecting with you all here on our 30th! This year leadership and safety take precedence over our desire to gather. Please be safe with each of your families as we weather the COVID pandemic (#HealthyAtHome). We will get through this together. VERY much looking forward to the next available opportunity to meet up and reconnect! Be safe and well.
Santa Barbara, California
Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
While these are turbulent times, may your creativity and passion long outlive this pandemic. You have been well prepared by the Washington University Family and represent excellence at all levels.
Best wishes and may you soar in the weeks and months ahead!
With admiration and accolades,
John P. Margolis, AIA
To my fellow WashU artists, architects, and creative minds,
Having had the pleasure and the honor to pursue my undergraduate and graduate studies at Washington University, I am aware of challenges, both intellectual and academic, required of your program. You are now approaching the successful conclusion of your exciting journey.
Allow me to congratulate you for your wonderful achievement. I want to tell you that you should feel nothing but pride in achieving your hard-earned goals. Your discoveries, projects, and theses are no less powerful than any others done prior, regardless of these exceptional times we live in. As a matter of fact, your success is to be credited more so now than in years past. This is the way I see it: In these exceptional times, the world needs exceptional leaders. The world needs you. Welcome!!!
Goran Maric, Alumni
BFA / MFA Washington U.
All artists are dreamers, and more often than not, those dreams have a foundation somewhere. For me, the foundation of my dreams was at Washington University's School of Fine Art. In all probability, my dreams for the most part were no different from those of my classmates. My dreams centered on achieving recognition as an artist, with art gallery representation in New York City. On a second track, the dream was to become a professor of art, teaching painting and sculpture in a university art department or art school.
The art gallery never materialized, but teaching as a Professor of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Virginia did.
Often our dreams are sidetracked by an opportunity that can become the success we long for. In 1972, the opportunity for me came creating the first nonprofit art gallery in the state of Virginia. With the financial help of local business men, the Second Street Gallery, a civic minded project, became a huge success and is in operation today.
You are really graduating under very harsh conditions. But my message to you is to try and place the crucial situation you are experiencing in a broader perspective. Almost the entire human world as we know it is experiencing the same harsh conditions. Think that you are living in one of the richest countries of the world, and you have better chances to overcome this menace compared to people in very poor countries. Be grateful for having acquired good quality education in a distinguished school and have been given the skills to overcome difficulties and challenges. Have confidence in yourselves but be modest. And every time you may face a difficult situation like the one we are going through, fight and always think that things could have been worse.
Brooklyn, New York
Senior Software Engineer, SmartAsset
Hello from New York, from an Art School Class of 2003 alumna. When I think of how to confront this moment we're all living through, especially from the perspective of a graduating senior, I reflect on some of the advice I've been given in difficult moments. One in particular stands out: I was a sophomore in 2001 when the planes hit the World Trade Center. Two days later in a dance comp class, we sat in a circle to talk about how we were doing. Our professor, David Marchant, encouraged us and said there's no right or wrong way to feel right now. You can be sad or confused; it's also ok if you look for escape and try to find joy in order to cope. Nearly 19 years later, I'm remembering and applying that same advice as we live through this pandemic. Laugh and cry with your loved ones. Wallow in sadness if it helps. We will get through this. Along the way do your best to be kind to yourself. Happy graduation, Class of 2020! The best is yet to come.
San Francisco, California
Dear Class of 2020,
My best wishes to you all as you graduate into this strange new world. We will get back to normal as we have in the past after other difficult times, but I wonder how your career path and creative expression will be changed and enhanced by this collective experience. Will you remember the importance of connection, kindness, preparation, and imagination? You will get through this, you will thrive, and you will do important work. We look forward to seeing it happen.
Owner, mphpm design
As an alum, I am with you in your challenge to graduate without pomp and circumstance. The real benefit of student life and education are the experiences, and the application and continued flowering of those into new beginnings. So while I cannot imagine your emotions during these trying times, the proud achievement of completion of your studies even without public celebration is recognized by those of us who proceeded you.
Best of luck to all,
Howard Mock - Chicago
BA 1974, MArch 1976
Assistant Professor & Art Ed Coordinator, Tennessee State University
To the Class of 2020,
Sending well wishes to you as this journey is changing in ways you probably never expected and then some! Life is and will always be in full force, moving you to act, grow, and become better with each new adventure. The education I received from WashU was more than enough to put me on the right track of self-discovery. Each decision I made post graduation led me closer to becoming a better person, educator, and creator.
Never stop dreaming, learning, growing, and finding your way. Once you find that spark that really gets you going, you'll see that each step was meant for you to embark on and experience. You are creators—so create the life you've always wanted and continue to authentically impact the world and those around you in ways that only you can imagine! I wish you all the best that life has to offer.
Blessings and peace in abundance.
Go Bears! Rawrr!
If you have any free time in this once-in-a-generation situation, do whatever you can to address the issue of student loan forgiveness; that is the true fight of our generation. There were a bunch of us who graduated during the last recession, and we have turned out ok. Well, turned out ok, meaning we could all at least afford a trip back to St Louis in 2018.
Just remember that, as artists and architects, we use our creativity best when in context. So use the knowledge the faculty has shared and the skills and resources the Sam Fox School has provided, and go forth! Go forth in this unique context. Pencils Down!
Dear Class of 2020,
You have worked so hard for four years. Congratulations on all that you have accomplished! I hope to encourage you that, although it is a huge loss not to celebrate what you've worked for with your peers, you have much to celebrate ahead.
One lesson I have learned in this crisis is artists have a unique ability to transform darkness into light. We are trained to use our creativity to see the world in a different way that opens up possibility. Though I don't believe anyone needs to prove how productive they can be in this strange time, approaching each day's limitations with creativity can be transformative. I have been able to make new work from home, with a more spontaneous spirit, enjoying the discovery of simple beauty.
I hope you can find new reserves of strength, resolve, and innovation for this season and beyond. Let the art we make, and the fact that we make it, be a protest against despair and a sign of resilience and hope in the world.
My dad, my cousin, and I were all architecture grads from WashU. John Forgy became a partner of the Wittenberg, Deloney, and Davidson firm in Arkansas. I worked for his and another firm, Modulation Designs in Massachusetts. Later, I went another direction and homeschooled my sons for 13 years. Afterwards, I had a construction-related job I enjoyed very much. Allison Conley is currently leading the design team of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture for the Al Wasl Plaza, the center of the Dubai Expo 2020 masterplan. I also didn't get to attend my graduation ceremony. A little sad but there were exciting days ahead with my new job. Also, WashU's excellent training and reputation still remained with me. Congratulations.
Embudo, New Mexico
I graduated with a BFA in 1974. I am a full-time artist.
Making a living is sometimes smooth, sometimes a struggle. Architectural commissions have been a mainstay. Most commissions allow me freedom to be creative within parameters, which helps develop problem-solving skills. Great art is often made within defined boundaries. My worldly success is modest. I've made public pieces, but I'm not represented by a successful gallery, nor have had profiles in Art in America. Yet I can't imagine a more successful life. I spend my days working in the studio. I live in gratitude.
Beware of society's prevailing values. Worship of wealth and the individual serves us poorly.
Contemplate the natural world such as the earth spinning on its axis or our complex network of neurons. It's mysterious and beautiful.
And be empathetic. This will inform your work and lead to good decision-making.
Strategy Director, Redscout
Class of 2020:
You are entering a wild world, and while it may seen daunting, I'd argue you are better prepared for it than many of your peers who studied in other fields. A design background has taught you how to think laterally, solve problems from many angles, and find elegant solutions to challenging contexts.
This isn't going to be an easy few months, but have the confidence in your own creativity—both in the work you create and your approach to finding your next challenge. Know that you have the support of the Sam Fox network at your back.
Go try something crazy and take some career risks in the midst of this uncertainty. You'll undoubtably make something brilliant out of it!
Aloha! I have been documenting da life of Wash U parents Marela and George Man. While dealing wit Corona dey having problems wit dher mask fo get ready fo gradumacation dinna shopping.
Hello, I have been documenting the life of Washington University parents Marela and George Man. They are having problems dealing with Corona virus. They need to go shopping for their son's graduation dinner but being sharks with gills, N95 masks are inadequate.
I hope your family is not experiencing similar foibles. If so, let me know.
"Forward, my little brothers, and drink of the bitter waters, there is no retreat
(I mua e nä pöki‘i a inu i ka wai ‘awa‘awa, ‘a‘ole hope e ho‘i aku ai.)"
-Kamehameha Paiea leading his warriors to unify the Islands of Hawai'i.
It strikes me that we are slowly perhaps maybe beginning to unify the world through aloha?
Owner/Photographer, Jim Olvera Photographer
Just before I graduated from the School of Art, alumnus Jack Unruh, an illustrator of international renown, spoke to our design class. He displayed his brilliant work, asked if any of us had an interest in moving to Dallas, and asked for a show of hands. Mine was the only one that went up. He gave me his card and said to call him.
A few weeks later, I called, said that I would be in town soon, and he invited me to his studio. He looked at my work, pulled out his Rolodex, and gave me the names and numbers of six designers. I had a job the following Monday. When I called to thank him, he asked me just to do the same for someone else when I had the chance; no thanks necessary.
So here's what I learned. Don't be afraid to contact the people at the top of your field. They may surprise you with their receptivity. Above all, when you have the opportunity (and you will) remember to help others who are trying to find their way. We're all in this together.
New Woodstock, New York
Principal & Creative Director, WilliamPadgettDesign
Congratulations to the Class of 2020!!!
People will always remember this year. You will always remember this year. How you will remember it will be based on what you did this year and beyond.
I can tell you that you will get through this rough part of the road and be successful. How? The secret is your attitude! Always be a Perverse Optimist (thx Tibor). Embrace change. Treat all problems as opportunities. Help save the planet and all of its inhabitants. Work with strong teams. See failures as tools for learning. Practice lifelong learning. Share and teach what you have learned. Be happy: It is more contagious than this damn virus.
Also: Do what you love, love what you do. It is a very simple and balanced philosophy that allows to you never really have to "work" a day in your life! Plus you will work twice as hard because of it.
Change starts with each of you. Your class can be the catalyst for massive shifts that will determine the future of our species.
in bocca del lupo,
I know it's disappointing to not be able to end your year with your BFA show with all your friends and family there, but stay strong and enjoy your time at home. This is a very important and special time in the world, and as artists, we can use this to fuel our work, to drive our projects and create meaning, to make people think. There is a silver lining in every situation.
Manager of Family Programs and Student Engagement, Smart Museum of Art
Dear friends and fellow artists,
I hope you're well and staying healthy and safe during this pandemic. You all have been faced with a task that is daunting but is made for artists. You're scrappy, you're creative, you can make things. Your craziest, most surreal ideas now fit perfectly with the times.
You have the chance to build a "DIY" semester—a post-apocalyptic Mad-Max kind of art school experience for yourselves. How can you build your own sort of utopia of friends and confidantes that lasts far longer than mid-June? I still meet once a year for "Reunion" with a group of friends from WashU's School of Art and their partners. Do it! Plan a date to reunite with your friends each year after you graduate.
How can you utilize your ingenuity to make the most of this very odd time? Adventure Playgrounds took off in England when mothers and kids turned bombed out buildings in WWI into playgrounds. How can we use calamity to create human connection?
You got this, you're an artist.
President, Pevnick Design Inc.
Professor Emeritus of Art and Design, The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
The skills you learned at Washington University, understanding and applying the creative process, will serve you well in art or design. It will help you build a record of jobs and achievements that will bring recognition and lead you to opportunities. This can come as job opportunities or facilitate creating something. Be sure and keep a web presence for yourself and archive your projects so that others can see what you do and find you. If you have an art or design goal, take a job that will teach some of the skills that you need to learn to achieve that goal and work towards that goal on you own time. You don't have to necessarily be a "starving artist" to make your creative masterpiece. This might be a gallery art show or a design achievement—what you imagine can become your realization. Look for grant funding opportunities, crowd sourcing, or business alliances to keep your ultimate goal in sight. When you achieve your goal, build and expand on your creation, your vision.
San Francisco, California
Software Engineer, Pinterest
Dear Class of 2020,
While now is an especially tough time for many people around the world, I can only imagine how it feels to have your final year abruptly cut short with many of the exciting year-end activities, including graduation, canceled.
I know you've been working extremely hard preparing for your year-end milestone (I remember spending many hours in the studio in preparation for our printmaking senior thesis show!), but please don't assume your work will go to waste! Now, more than ever, is the time to use those critical-thinking skills you've been developing and GET CREATIVE. If you can't have an in-person gallery show, figure out how to show your work online—create a video to present your work or do a live presentation over Zoom or Google Hangouts!
While it's easy to be frustrated by the situation, I challenge you to flip that on its head and think about how you can create opportunity in new ways during this time!
Stay safe and healthy—wishing you all the best!
New York, New York
In the past couple of weeks, I have found myself referring back to times at Sam Fox much more than I ever thought I would. From creating a virtual studio to mimic days at Sam Fox, to referencing a reading I learned in a class, to pushing myself like I know one of my professors would have, I have never been more grateful for the community and impact WashU and Sam Fox had on me.
Keep that momentum going for yourselves. The value of WashU and Sam Fox transcends your physical studio space, the WashU campus, and St. Louis itself. Leverage the community around you and the tools you've been given to allow yourself to push your work and the limits of your work even farther than it would have gone during the last days of a "regular" semester. Push your classmates and professors with the power of what you can produce in this time. I think you will all surprise yourselves with what you find is possible.
Oh, and remember. Getting dressed each day is power in itself (fashion design alum here).
Project Architect, Heitman Architects Inc.
Class of 2020, I'm mourning with you. My 15th reunion was also canceled this year, but building community with you is one way to reclaim what I lost. My BFA is in Sculpture & Film + Media Studies, & I also have a Master's of Architecture, so I love connecting with all Sam Fox students.
I know well wishes will only go so far in a time like this, so I'm going to try to give some really practical advice.
* Put photos of campus/classmates on your many screens, cuz visuals communicate! (I jazzed up my work-from-home monitors & love it.)
* Make sure to update WashU with your current/next address and contact info. This is the best way to connect with the WONDERFUL & SUPPORTIVE alumni community. We will be more eager to help you than ever.
* Use the Career Center. (One of my biggest fails!)
* See if there's an alumni professionals network in your area, great networking.
* Join professional organizations, some are free to start.
* Use all your resources & ask for help without shame!
Chairman, Philia Earth Limited
Dear Class of 2020,
This is a challenging year to graduate as our world faces a global pandemic of COVID-19. As architecture graduates, you have the talents and trainings to imagine and create spaces. The world requires architects who are able to think more creatively in re-imagining spatial environments to meet the paradigm shift of the way people work and live in the 21st Century. Climate change and un-equal development in the built environment require a lot of collaborative efforts to push the boundary of green architecture. In a difficult time like this, ask yourself what you can do to utilize your talents and trainings to create a healthier and greener built environment. I hope in the next decades you will be able to look back and take pride in your contributions to make our world a better place to live.
Kenneth K.Y. Poon
Chairman of Philia Earth Limited