by Ania Szremski
I am an unabashed weeper at pretty much any ceremony of any kind–weddings, graduations, baptisms. It’s kind of embarrassing. But when I attended SAIC’s commencement on Saturday, May 22, I was surprisingly dry-eyed.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely felt a swell of pride to see some of my very dear friends walk across the stage to accept their well-deserved awards and diplomas, and was moved by the nostalgia of two years’ worth of memories with these people and the sentimental realization that my own time left in school is short (thank god). And the setting at the Pritzker Pavilion was lovely. But my goodness, SAIC, could you have had a brusquer, more business-like ceremony? Sinister reminders that the School is expecting to be “Remembered” (eg, pass over your credit card numbers NOW, soon-to-be-alums, so that you can start making donations before you’ve even gotten your diploma-holder), dry announcements of the “benefits” you receive as alumnis of the school (yes, you can still get into Flaxman) and creepy commercials for the museum which now costs $20 a pop for beleaguered out-of-town family members, all combined to inspire more smirking on my part than anything else.
Plus, there weren’t any caps and gowns. In the words of one of my graduating friends, that kind of kills the cinematic dream of the American-style graduation.
Kathe Kollwitz of the Guerrilla Girls, the keynote speaker, helped to redeem the ceremony somewhat. She gave the whole speech in her gorilla mask and, although the timber of her voice was surprisingly girly, she managed to make some hilarious jabs at the trustees and museum directors sitting behind her. Her speech (in which she encouraged students to “Complain, complain, complain!” — see, I’m already following her advice! — and in general to cause ruckus and subvert the institution) was the most stirring note of the ceremony.