Breathe by Lanxia (Summer) Xie

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Director's Notes – June 2023

Submitted on June 26, 2023 - 2:12pm
Jamie Walker, 2023
Jamie Walker, 2023.

Congratulations are in order for the graduating class of 2023, all 227 of them, who were feted by some 1,000 faculty, staff, family and friends at the School of Art + Art History + Design Graduation Celebration held in the Meany Hall Auditorium on June 10th. These newly minted alumni reflect the global reach of the University of Washington having come from Vietnam , Taiwan, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, India, Japan, Canada, Korea, Brazil, and all corners of the United States.

I cannot think of another class that has withstood such a stream of disruption due to forces completely out of their control. They were catapulted into an academic world of uncertainty when in-person classes stopped and moved to online platforms due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. They encountered further stops and starts with multiple returns to campus just in time to be greeted by the disruption of the first renovation of the Art Building in 75 years. Some of us joked about what else could possibly happen when suddenly there was the great flood of this past December, the closing of Parnassus as a full time café, and the all-too-proximate reminders of the social upheaval that our planet is sputtering through. Perhaps this is why so many of them showed up for graduation and robustly cheered their fellow graduates for having survived, and in so many ways thrived, during this distinctly unique moment in time.

A sense of completion, achievement, and reflection is palpable following the last round of exhibitions, papers, critiques, etc. that bring to fruition years of study, research, and practice.

Senior exhibitions featuring our art and design undergraduates served as the inaugural suite of exhibitions installed in the fabulous new home of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. The work of our graduate students was featured on the other side of campus at the Henry Art Gallery. And we’re anticipating the launch of the 2023 Graduate Showcase, which includes the work of our art historians, in mid-July.

The end of the year also marked the time to say farewell to several of our esteemed colleagues as they advanced into new positions on campus or began that new adventure called retirement. Professors David Brody, Ellen Garvens, and Phillip Govedare helped shape the futures of thousands of students through their teaching, leadership, and extraordinary creative research. Morgan Bell, who graciously supported our needs in Visual Services and IT, along with Liz Copland, who helped guide the educational and life paths of so many of our students through her role on the Advising team, have both moved on to fresh challenges. Our most senior staff member, Judi Clark, Director of Academic Advising and Student Services, retired after more than 30 years of service and steadfast devotion to the School. Leo Carmona, our Media Relations Specialist, recently sat down and had a conversation with Judi about her remarkable career at the UW.

Numerous achievements came to light during Spring quarter, from the recognition of Design seniors Shreya Balaji and Jerred Mace being selected as part of this year’s Husky 100 cohort, to a robust showing by Design faculty and students at the Core77 Design Awards, to the inspiring academic journey of Elizabeth Xiong, a double major in Art History and Computer Science who recently completed an internship through the Seattle Art Museum’s Emerging Arts Leader program. Assistant Professor of Art History Miriam Chusid was awarded the Anne van Biema Fellowship at the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art, and Assistant Professor of Painting + Drawing Sangram Majumdar received a grant from the Adolf and Esther Gottlieb Foundation. The School received the excellent news that we had been awarded our third National Endowment for the Arts grant, this one for $30,000, in support of the next iteration of the Jacob Lawrence Legacy Residency that is scheduled to take place in the gallery in early 2024.

For those of you in town, I encourage you to stop by the Art Building and visit the new Jacob Lawrence Gallery and the other renovated spaces, and if you plan on making it to the Seattle Art Fair to stop by our table and say hello. Thank you as always for your interest and support in what we do. Happy Summer!