Pandemics Change Everything,
Catastrophic events unfortunately are not rare or unpredictable occurrences, they are just outside the grid of what is expected as a projected norm. In turn, they generate a highly disproportionate amount of uncharted actions of what is largely believed to be known. What was assumed to be the case of life “as is” has been replaced with unanticipated disruptions. The philosopher and essayist Nassim Taleb, effectively coined the term “black swan” to identify the sudden emergence of such unpredictable events. He wrote profoundly about global integration and how in an interconnected world the “unpredictable is increasingly probable.”
As dreadful as the havoc this pandemic has produced, I must, never-the-less commend all the students for continuing your projects for our Senior Review. This has been a remarkable time with some stunning results. Artists work with what they have whether it is newspaper, pure pigments, wire or even household goods. The results exhibited here mark an emergence of innovation, strength and resourcefulness. I wish to congratulate all the Seniors on a job well done and the faculty who inspired their production and advanced their breadth of thinking. This has been a strenuous exercise for all and I personally thank you for your continuance in spite of the difficulty.
On yet another note, many students are developing new narratives for their projects: working outdoors, creating physical models with interactive elements, developing novel metaphors and selecting found objects that would have been overlooked. Some students have also recycled discarded materials, turned towards drawing and flights of the imagination, while others have engaged in analytic aspects of cultural critiques. Issues concerning gender, race, surveillance and the dominant role technology commands in contemporary society have been exposed, while absurdity and humor have also been embraced.
To the graduates, where do we go from here? Conditions have drastically changed and it is time for experimentation and innovation that goes beyond expectation. It is a moment to consider what exactly is home, intimacy, and the nature of your future plans. What we have learned firsthand, is that we are all connected in a globalized world, as members of the sphere we call Earth. From climate change to the eruption of novel viruses, to out of ordinary social practices, we hold steadfast with the determination to create original symbols reflecting these unique circumstances. It may take some time to register what these experiences mean for you, how they have changed your work and life plans, but I will assure you that you have accomplished a grand and remarkable feat by holding constant while moving forward in your work.
On behalf of all the faculty and staff, I bid you farewell. May a prodigious peace and steady health be with you.
– Suzanne Anker, Chair
BFA Fine Arts. School of Visual Arts, NYC