About the Symposium
It is with a deep sense of awe that I congratulate and recognize the achievements of this Spring, 2021 class of students earning their B.A. in Art or in Art History, Theory and Criticism. During the strange past year and a half, these students have persevered and thrived in their intellectual and creative practice, where so many others have delayed their goals while they wait for a return to “normal.” Academic and cultural institutions, along with the artists and scholars who inhabit them, have found new ways to conduct research, to produce work, and to engage with public and virtual spaces. It seems obvious by now that those who have embraced the unknown are the most prepared to meet the challenges of the future, and that is exactly how I would characterize this group of students.
This Spring, the students in the BA Thesis class brought the virtual symposium format to a new level of professionalism. Their presentations reflect hours of preparation and demonstrate an admirable technical sophistication. Along with their faculty mentors and peers, each student has thoughtfully considered how art reflects and even shapes the individual and social relationships to our world, and how imagery communicates across divides. The more we engage in cultural life, the more empathy we generate. As I consider the nature of the relationships highlighted in each of these thesis projects, I have gained new appreciation for the affinities humans share.
Education never exists in a vacuum, and more than ever before our students were composing in spaces well beyond the art building. I am sure that family members, roommates and spouses watched and listened to these students as their projects developed. Despite our relative isolation in the midst of the pandemic, none of these students was truly alone and I want to recognize all of those who have supported them. Although I cannot be there to meet you at the symposium in person, I want to convey my appreciation and acknowledgement of all of those who love your students.
As you listen to the symposium presentations, I hope, like me, that you share in the excitement of discovery. Whether they have discovered their own personal strength, or helped others discover expanded modes of identity and expression, there is a thread of optimism that unites this work. I share with these students an optimism about their bright futures. It is their creativity and curiosity that will surely see us all through the challenging times ahead.
Dr. Deanne Pytlinski
Chair, Department of Art