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Graduation Speaker: Pooja Krishnan, Art

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Submitted on June 20, 2020 - 4:49pm
Pooja Krishnan
Pooja Krishnan

Pooja Krishnan received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art in June 2020. She was the Division of Art's undergraduate speaker for the School's virtual Graduation Celebration 2020. Below is the text of her speech.


Hello everyone,

My name is Pooja Krishnan, and I am a graduate of the School of Art + Art History + Design's class of 2020. It is an honor to speak to all of you today, to my peers, faculty and staff, family, and friends. Wherever you are, I hope you are all safe, healthy, and well.

To my fellow students, congratulations. You have braved years of late nights, hard work, and incredible accomplishments. And you have made it to this moment, where you stand before a world that holds infinite opportunities.

Achieving this degree is a far more significant accomplishment than we give it credit. Art school is not a place where one can succeed without putting in dedication and effort. We, as students, have come into this field fully aware of the uncertainty that lies ahead. No one enters art school with the assumption that they will be hired immediately upon graduating, that life will plan itself out. Instead, we become artists, even though our futures are utterly unknown because we have a deep and fundamental drive to create and express ourselves.

As art students, we have all experienced collective moments of success and failure. We have all had a bad critique, a piece that explodes in the kiln, or a moment when everything has gone wrong. But we've also experienced the thrill of displaying our work, of putting on a show, sharing our art.

And there is nothing like putting on a show. It is months of sweat and sleepless nights, elbow deep in hundreds of pounds of clay. It's coming back to the studio ten times a day to make sure there aren't cracks, it's watching the sculpture grow inch by inch until one day, bizarrely, it ends up in a gallery and dozens of people, some of whom you don't even know, are looking at it, appraising it, seeing it. There's honestly no equivalent feeling.

In this school of 30,000 people, I was fortunate enough to find a home at the CMA, the Ceramic and Metal Arts Building. At first, that unassuming, windowless building, far removed from campus, was honestly intimidating. Cement floors, fluorescent lights, the lingering smell of decades of creation and art stuck to the walls. At first glance, the building emits a cold straightforwardness. Yet, almost paradoxically, it is one of the most welcoming and warm buildings you might ever set foot in. It is home to a community of the most loving, caring, nurturing people, people who support you as you take some of the most significant creative risks you will ever take.

It's difficult to treat the School of Art as something from the past, as something that I no longer return to every day because it was such a profound and critical part of my life for so long. It's hard to reflect on it because I'm full to the brim with memories and experiences. But I'm thankful. I am grateful that I found a home within an overwhelmingly large school, that I found my best friends, found close mentors, and built relationships with some of the most beautiful people I have and will ever meet.

As we celebrate the culmination of all of our hard work, it is imperative to think about the future and the role we will play. The institution that is art school does foster our creativity and gives us the tools to make art and express ourselves. But our capacity as emerging artists stretches far beyond the walls of the school and the studio. We're about to enter a world of artists that are more diverse than we have seen at this school, artists that use technology and innovation to make themselves and their beliefs heard. And, as an artist, you are armed with the grit and power to think boldly and have dangerous ideas. So, as we exit academia and move on to the next chapter, I hope that we continue to think boldly, to challenge our surroundings, and to use our creativity and skills to affect change.

So, to the class of 2020, congratulations. I wish all of you good luck with whatever comes next. Thank you.

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