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CalArts celebrates graduation day

Valencia art school honors nearly 400 students at commencement ceremony

Posted: May 15, 2009 8:57 p.m.
Updated: May 15, 2009 8:55 p.m.
Miggie Wong, a performing arts major, cheers at graduation ceremonies at CalArts on Friday. Miggie Wong, a performing arts major, cheers at graduation ceremonies at CalArts on Friday.
Miggie Wong, a performing arts major, cheers at graduation ceremonies at CalArts on Friday.

California Institute of the Arts honored nearly 400 graduates Friday during the Valencia art school’s graduation ceremony.

Graduates walked into the courtyard to the sound of rhythmic beats and chants from live performers on stage. Families packed the outdoor area and filled the balconies above to wave and cheer the graduating class of 2009.

As an innovative art school, graduates opted out of wearing the traditional cap and gown, choosing to dress up in casual and formal attire.

Throughout the evening, speakers took the stage to offer praise and congratulations to the seated graduates.

“Graduates, tonight we’re celebrating all that you have achieved during your time at CalArts,” said Thomas Lee, vice chair of the board of trustees, to the sound of cheers and applause.

CalArts houses six schools: art, critical studies, dance, film/video, music and theater.

From the degrees, 201 students took home a Bachelor of Fine Arts, while 179 received a Master of Fine Arts.

Speakers also addressed the economic slowdown, citing how degrees from the leading art school will contribute to turning the economy around.

“On the purely economic side, for at least the last two decades, it is creativity and imagination that has been driving the economy,” said CalArts President Steven Lavine.

Still, the focus was on saluting the graduates who now move on to the next steps in their lives.

“We’ll be watching from here and wishing you luck in everything you do next,” Lavine said.

Also during the ceremony, Lavine presented honorary Doctor of Arts degrees to director Elizabeth LeCompte and composer Morton Subotnick for their contributions to contemporary arts and culture.

LeCompte is a founding member and longtime artistic director of The Wooster Group. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship, numerous Obie Awards, a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Distinguished Artist Fellowship for Lifetime Achievement in American Theater, and France’s highest arts award, the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres.

Composer and founding CalArts faculty member Subotnick is one of the foremost pioneers in the development of electronic music and an innovator in the use of interactive computer music systems.



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