In College of Fine Arts and Communications, Department of Art, Department of Design, Events, Students

As the students delivered their speeches, their artwork and projects were projected  on a screen for the audience

The Department of Art and Department of Design Convocation took place on April 27. Graduate and undergraduate students were awarded degrees in art, art education, animation, illustration, graphic design and photography. Here are some highlights of the event.  

The convocation took place at 8 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall. J. Kelly Flanagan, the information technology vice president, attended the ceremony as the university representative. He joined his relative, graduating design student Alyssa May Flanagan, on stage for a photo as she received her diploma cover.

Convocation speaker Megan Mitchell Arné. Photo by Max Atwood.

The first speaker was Studio art BFA student Megan Mitchell Arné. She discussed her joy in writing stories and poems as a child. A certain story she summarized, depicting the journey of a penny, highlighted the meaning behind her speech, “On Trash and Treasure.” Arné shared that her artwork highlights the significance of objects.

Her fascination with garbage and trash inspired her paintings and drawings. In 2017, Arné traveled to Brazil and made art video pieces featuring people’s most cherished possessions. She said her video project was meaningful because of the stories of human experiences that made each mundane object invaluable to its owner.

In closing, Arné said, “Just like the penny, a painting would only be a collection of material on a wall without someone walking into the gallery and deciding it means something more.”

The next speaker was Gunnar Harrison, a graphic design student who delivered a speech on “Relationships.” Harrison expressed that illustration, animation, photography and design majors have the lowest acceptance rates at BYU, but require the most time of their students. . He invited his fellow graduates to stop, turn around and be proud of how far they have come. 

Convocation speaker Gunnar Harrison. Photo by Max Atwood.

Harrison shared quotes from two of his favorite designers. Harrison shared how Paul Rand’s words — “To design is to discover relationships” — taught him relationships exist in good design, all the way to the minute details. He used Massimo Vignelli’s statement “If you can design one thing, you can design everything” to tell his peers that graduates do not have to be defined by one discipline.

Harrison concluded his speech by saying, “The most important relationship a design creates is the one it makes with the human being that occupies it.”

Christian Tran performs “Yellow.” Photo by Max Atwood.

Graduating woodwind performance major Christian Tran then performed “Yellow” and “Red” from Alyssa Morris’ “Four Personalities” on oboe. They are pieces based on the Hartman Personality test.

After Tran’s zestful performance, Sarah Roberts delivered her speech on “Art and Uncertainty.” As a graduating art major with an art education licensure, she talked about how she learned to see uncertainty as new territory to follow, not to run from.

Sharing photos and artwork from her study abroad to Spain and Morocco, Roberts discussed how this experiential learning opportunity offered a clean slate for ideas and inspiration after a creative block period. “Taking risks and making mistakes were a daily experience . . . Whenever I hit a wall, there was only one thing to do — continue.”

Roberts highlighted her experience with Allison Miller, an artist who visited campus and spoke to art students in 2017. Miller’s “Flush Arch” inspired Roberts to take risks, fix mistakes and strive to become comfortable in unknown outcomes. Roberts’ final project “Revisions” was featured in the Gallery 303 in the HFAC. 

Convocation speaker Sarah Roberts. Photo by Max Atwood.

She closed her speech by reminding her fellow graduates,, “As we face the uncertainties that lie ahead of each of us, let us remember there is great value in not knowing”

Animation senior Kalee McCollaum spoke on “Taking Chances.” McCollaum was the director of  the annual short film produced by the seniors in the Department of Design. She shared how she never considered herself to be the director and was humbled to be chosen through votes. She said his experience brought her out of her comfort zone and identified her weaknesses.

Even though she made mistakes and felt inadequate at times, McCollaum was grateful to discover how much she did not know because this gave her the opportunity to gain new knowledge. “I thought the director was the person who had all the answers. Instead of going to someone for feedback, I was the one giving the feedback. I discovered that filmmaking was an elaborate process.”

Convocation speaker Kalee McCollaum. Photo by Max Atwood.

In time, McCollaum learned to make better decisions and brush off the embarrassing moments she experienced. She said this frightening opportunity helped her discover how great collaborative work could be. After sharing a sneak peek of the short film, McCollaum told her fellow graduates, “I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and take chances. . . Weaknesses you didn’t know you were holding back will be revealed to you, allowing you to overcome them.”

The ceremony ended with the presentation of graduates.

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