Commencement 2021

President Kurt Steinberg’s Message to Graduates

 

Before I get going today…. a few thank yous…. first…. thank you to your loved ones that supported you through this part of your journey. They believe in you and your talents. Continue to draw on the strength of the people that have your best interest always at heart.

Thank you to your Professors…. they changed things up and worked hard to give you as much as they could, especially during the past three semesters.  They are heroes in normal times but even more so now. They are and will always be dedicated to your success.

To those you don’t see behind the scenes…. working hard for you to succeed. You may not realize it…. but there is a large team of people that get up every day at Montserrat College of Art to serve you without glory. They clean our classrooms, they paint the walls, they work with you to find a way to pay your way, they fight for you and care about your success….in the writing studio, in career services, in counseling, in housing, in campus life, in financial services, in facilities….in the smallest and biggest of jobs…. this entire community pulled for you and worked for you to succeed and reach this day.

Your loved ones, faculty, and the entire staff…. have fought for your success. I know…. because I am witness to it every day. I see and feel the effort in my zoom calls (too many) and in my short wanderings around campus.

Last but not least…. thank yourself…. you did it! You are extraordinary people capable of extraordinary things. You have all achieved something incredibly difficult made more difficult by the challenges of the past three semesters…. you are graduating from an intense and challenging college of art and design. Take a moment and mentally appreciate yourself…allow this achievement to sink in and be grateful for your inner strength and perseverance.

Now my short…I promise…. words and thoughts for you.

REVOLUTION

A scary word for some….an opportunity for others. Opportunity to make real long-lasting change. So much opportunity to shake things up in this Post-Pandemic world ahead of all of us. A chance to take your experiences and moments of growth you had here in and out of the classroom. You have the power to shape the world and more importantly….be the interpreters of truth for those not able to access it. Artists, designers and artist educators have always been the voices for inclusion. Allowing equal access to ideas, thoughts, history, and truth through their work.

You are being given great responsibility today to continue the legacy of hundreds of years of artists, designers and artist educators. The continuation of that legacy is your calling and undertaking as creative people.

Revolution is not a scary word when you know what it means. I have lived by it for a while now. I am subtlety subversive in most of what I do these days. It has been a long road but I have grown to have little patience for the easy. The difficult is so much more interesting to me. That is why I have a bit of revolution in what I like to do.

That means making people sometimes uncomfortable. Truth telling can do that.

I was introduced to a quote from James Baldwin by Professor Ari Montford this year that finally put words to what I have always felt…..

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

As creative people you must facilitate that change…. You must be witnesses to truth.  You must be the keepers of the flame of a revolutionary mindset that demands evolution of thought and action. That demands social justice. That demands not just accountability but justice. You are the creative voices and your education is not over as you continue your creative lives. The meaningful and fulfilling creative life journey has just begun.

Educate others and yourselves as you pursue your passions. Make a mark. The work is hard but fulfilling but you must get up every day and re-dedicate yourselves to the work of change. It is a revolutionary mindset that is in our DNA here at Montserrat College of Art. It is your legacy to take up. Be the next generation of creative people that became the next witnesses of truth.

Our founding director, Joseph Jeswald,  in the early years of the College called out many of these themes when he said the following, which greets you at the entrance of the Founders’ Gallery on Cabot Street…

“I would not choose convention or lie, or try the comforts of silence. I would make a mark, a print, a stain, and so remain to bear witness by giving substance to my voice.”

REVOLUTION – A scary word for some who don’t understand the opportunity it holds if it is truly understood and its power used for the betterment of our world. Bear witness, make your mark and give substance not just to your voice but the voice of others not able to speak for themselves.

Be well. We are here for you now and always.