St. Louis, Missouri
Dear Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts Class of 2020,
This totally strange and unsettling situation you find yourselves in makes this graduation time very unique—and not in a good way. It is sad. It is so disappointing. It is a time you will never forget! None of us will! This uneasy situation will pass, and things will eventually get back to normal. You will tell your children and grandchildren about it and how you survived the Pandemic of 2020! You will tell them how you had to miss your graduation—completely—and how you were unable to display your art and have receptions for family members and friends to come admire your work. However, you did it! You've completed your education—for now, anyway. You have a right to be proud of your accomplishments in spite of the lack of ritual "pomp, and circumstance!" Be relieved. Be safe, be well!
Wishing you all the best now and for the future,
Carol Diaz-Granados, Ph.D. - BFA 1964, Cert. in Journalism 1966, MA 1980
Kansas City, Kansas
Associate Professor and Chair of Sculpture, Kansas City Art Institute
Adversity has the power to generate meaningful art. Remember that Frida Kahlo painted her cast while convalescing in bed. Arshile Gorky held his dying mother in his arms while the Armenian Genocide raged. Andre Breton returned from the front lines of WWI, embraced fear and absurdity to upend culture by birthing the surrealist movement. The journey each of these artists took led them through the way of love, and we are the beneficiaries of their imaginations unleashed by suffering.
St. Louis, Missouri
CEO, Anova Furnishings
Congratulations to the 2020 Graduating MLA Class of the Sam Fox School of Art & Design.
At its roots, your chosen profession is about problem solving, and you are now fully equipped to help make our world a better place at a time when it absolutely needs it. I hope you are sincerely proud of the skills you've gained and the accomplishments you've attained through this rigorous program. From what I've seen, entering your profession with a degree from this school positions you uniquely to blend the art and science of design. You will bring disparate sets of ideas together into amazing unified landscapes and experiences for countless members of our society. We're all lucky to have you out in the professional world making an impact. I can't wait to see the improvements your class brings our world in the coming decades!!
With Deep Respect and Admiration,
To the Class of 2020, congratulations! An old Irish blessing and prayer sums up our wishes for you:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
Welcome to the distinguished privilege of calling yourself an alumni of Washington University!
Jeff and Valerie Greer (MArch 2002) + Isla Greer (WU Cub Bear)
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!
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)
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.
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!
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
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, 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
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.
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!
St. Paul, Minnesota
Sr. Architectual Historian, 106 Group
Keep dreaming and keep making—you are creative problem-solvers, and you will change our world! As you enter the workforce, your first job may not be what you planned, but make the most of it. Each job will prepare you for the next one. Make time to create and connect. You never know where it may lead you. I've run into WashU alumni everywhere, whether on vacation and at the Y. We're here to support you, we're proud of you, and we can't wait to see what you'll do next!
I was hoping to share your celebration this May, as it will be my 50th reunion from Washington University, but as we all know, that is not to be. Unfortunately, I missed my commencement 50 years ago during the Vietnam protests and bomb threats to the campus in 1970. My parents would not let me attend. It was disappointing then and disappointing again now. It seems I am not destined to robe up and "walk." In no way has this impacted my life in the real world. I received my diploma by mail: I had my BFA from the Art School and subsequently went to NYC where I secured a graphic design job at Dell Publishing Company. When my husband (also a WashU graduate, BSBA '68) and I moved back to St Louis for his legal career, I worked with my WashU roommate for over 40 years in our photography business.
My message to you is move on, make plans, do something you love, and take the memories and friends you made along when you can. We are all counting on you to make this world a better place.
I graduated from FA way back in '58. My daughter, Amy Riseborough, is also a WU alum, FA '88. Here are the two of us at the opening of my one-person show 20 years ago. It took a long time, a lifetime, for me to produce a mature, powerful body of work—a lot of introspection, a lot of looking at other artwork, a lot of life experience.
Seize this opportunity of quiet to make work, to experiment, to risk failure, to discover something new—maybe even about yourself. You may come out on the other side of this a stronger artist.
St. Louis, Missouri
Architect, Christner Architects
Class of 2020—CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve accomplished so much, and I am proud of you.
We are here for you and celebrate you despite these difficult times. It’s unfortunate that we cannot be together in person to celebrate you, but your accomplishments do not go unnoticed. To complete this prestigious degree, you had to have a lot of resilience, endurance, and perseverance—all skills necessary now and throughout your career. Starting your careers this way is not ideal, obviously, but your Sam Fox community is here for you. Those of you still in St. Louis, do not hesitate to contact me for anything. If I can’t help, I can find someone who will. The design community is very tight, and we have each other’s back. You’re our colleagues now and know that we have your back, too.
Much love to the Class of 2020. Wishing you continued strength.
Patricia Sanchez de Andrei, AIA, EDAC
MArch, Class of 2011
Fellow Architects, it's a scary time to be graduating, but remember the world has survived World Wars, 9/11, and Pandemics (1957-58) and returned with vigor and innovation to build the next generation. If your immediate fear is finding a job, then you will be tested on your ability to improvise and persevere; both are qualities that will serve you well and may not have come your way in normal times. There is value in struggling, and you will find determination that you didn't know you had. When I graduated, I felt lost and frightened: it was 1972, the Vietnam War was raging, with social unrest and riots on college campuses, my Father had recently died, two of my best friends had also died within weeks of graduation, and I was carrying college debt. I tried in vain to find a job in St. Louis, but never even got an interview. Alas, I moved back home to Little Rock, a choice of last resort. Within 18 months, I moved to Chicago, went to work for SOM, and later founded a firm that grew to 50 people.
Dear Graduating Class of 2020,
Though it might seem like this is not fair or you ask yourself why us, why our class?, just remember you are stronger and more resilient than you know. You're graduating during this troubling time will not be lost on your family, friends, colleagues, or future employers. It certainly is not lost on me. As a fellow alumnus, I know how committed each one of you are, and I have no doubt you will succeed in all your endeavors!
Blessings and Godspeed, Sam Fox School Class of 2020!
Each graduate leaves Washington University with a unique body of knowledge and ways of thinking that are their own. Everyone is different. You have to find the path, in your career and in your life, that is right for you. Your path may look very different from what others around you are doing. This is especially true in the arts and professional creative careers. Trust yourself; trust your own journey. Don't put any limitations on what your own “body of knowledge” can become; work hard and let it unfold. Let yourself be surprised by what you do as you discover your direction.
To the Class of 2020,
I know in this crazy time, it's challenging to stay committed, hopeful, and positive. Take a deep breath and know that we are your biggest cheerleaders, so go ahead and dream big. Dream forward.
Create a new tomorrow with what you learned today. Remember that your footprint will matter greatly and impact all aspects of our social, emotional, and built environment, so make your mark and make it count.
Congratulations to the Washington University Class of 2020!
Partner, Skidmore Ownings and Merrill
When I graduated in 1993, it was in the middle of the Recession. Students that had graduated from the previous year were still hanging out at the school because there were no jobs. I moved to NYC where architecture firms were not hiring. I sent out more than 250 resumes and went on 10 job interviews before I was offered my first job. Due to the inconsistency of work, I worked for five different firms the next five years. I then landed at SOM were I have been ever since. If you truly love architecture and the profession, be persistent and patient. The future has tremendous opportunities for you!
St. Louis, Missouri
Director of Research & Technology, Senior Lecturer, Washington University in St. Louis
Artists, architects, and designers are trained to work with constraints. It is in your DNA and how you have been working even if not always overtly so. I know the constraints of today far exceed any prior ones, but I know you will be resilient and innovative. You are entrepreneurs and will make it through this time. Help each other and do not hesitate to ask for the help of others.
Owner/Designer, MarLa Studio
You are better positioned and more technologically skilled than all preceding classes. Use your immense powers of creativity to unleash the elegant ingenuity our time calls for and deserves. No matter the challenges, this time will be what calls you to fully utilize your proven emotional and intellectual capacity beyond what you believe possible. The privileged gift of your experience will be your infinite treasure, a reservoir of resourceful strength to tap for the rest of your lives. You are the now and the future. There is never a good time; there is never a bad time. All there is is time and how you craft it. All my best to all of you dreamers: Shine on, you crazy diamonds.