THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL/FRIEDA SQUIRES Andrew Cecin, wearing a custom-designed mortarboard, joins other members of the RISD Class of 2013 as they march into the Rhode Island Convention Center for Saturday’s graduation ceremonies.
From Sunday's Providence Journal:A high degree of creativity for grads Pomp and circumstance take a back seat to free expression at Saturday’s exuberant ceremony By PHILIP MARCELO JOURNAL STAFF WRITER PROVIDENCE ’ As expected for one of the nation’s top art and design schools, Rhode Island School of Design students ditched the traditional black cap and gown at the college’s commencement ceremony at the convention center on Saturday. Many crossed the graduation platform wearing everything from elaborate, robot-like costumes and medieval attire to summer dresses and plain old T-shirts and jeans. There was an illustration major wearing a colorful, piÃ±ata-like headdress and an industrial design major wearing a cycling outfit. There were a multitude of graduation gowns cut up, hemmed, and bedazzled with sequins. Mortarboards were outfitted with geometric shapes, stacks of Red Bull cans, feathers and flowers, and even a large, gold Chinese-style dragon. A boisterous brass band decked out in candy-cane red-and-white garb kicked off the procession of students into the cavernous convention center space. But there were touches of the traditional, too, in the more than two-hour ceremony, in which some 659 students ’ 197 graduate and 462 undergraduate ’ received diplomas. Speaker after speaker offered pearls of wisdom for a new generation of artists, designers and entrepreneurs. "It is not about getting it right. It is just about getting it," Maira Kalman, who has written and illustrated children’s books and is a frequent cover artist and contributor to The New Yorker, advised during her keynoteaddress. "It’s not about working toward a specific career goal. It’s just about working. And the point is to work through all obstacles." Providence Mayor Angel Taveras urged students to "always speak up, get involved [and] never be silent." He quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline appealed to students to remain in Rhode Island and contribute to its thriving arts scene. "Seek out jobs, companies and ideas that inspire you and run with them right here in our state," he said. "Pursue your dream here, start your company here, create here." RISD President John Maeda spoke about the great potential for artists and designers to help solve basic human needs. He pointed to RISD graduates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, who co-founded "Airbnb," an online marketplace site where people can offer up or rent unique living spaces ’ from an overnight apartment stay to a week in a castle or a month-long villa stay. Maeda said the two came up with the idea because they simply needed a way to pay their rent. Today, he said, Airbnb is a "$2-billion company" and "the world’s most disruptive lodging platform." Student speakers also reached for the inspirational. Raine Vasquez, who received a of fine arts degree, likened art to love. "Art, like love, is dangerous. It changes us," he said. "Like love, art is about connections." Jessie Chen, who received a bachelor of fine arts degree, declared that the only boundary between art and design are "conventions." She told her fellow graduates to push beyond them. "These were made by someone many years before whose time has passed. It’s no longer relevant to you," she said. "Transcend these borderlands. ... Imagine a world that could be. ... Give yourself permission to build that world." firstname.lastname@example.org â€‰ (401) 277-7493.