SANTA FE, NM:
May 20, 2019.
The Institute of American Indian Arts held their 2019 commencement ceremony at 11:00 am on Saturday, May 18, 2019.
IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee) conferred 65 degrees on the graduating students, including student speaker Lorenza Elena Chavez Marcais (Xicanx/Mescalero Apache/European descent) for the undergraduates; and Blue Tarpalechee (Mvskoke [Creek]) for the MFA students. Commencement speaker Roxanne Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo), who, while still in high school, attended the Institute of American Indian Arts, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree, in addition to delivering the commencement address.
Swentzell spoke of her family -- daughter Rose Bean Simpson, who followed in the family practice of making art -- she received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and also earned an MFA in Creative Writing from IAIA -- and her son Dr. Porter Swentzell, the Chair of the Indigenous Liberal Studies Department at IAIA and a newly-appointed regent for Northern New Mexico College.
Additionally, she talked about beginning her art career at age 4 with her hands in clay and has continued making art since then. She spoke of the importance of that practice to her her very existence: "Thank you IAIA for saving my life so many years ago, and thank you for so greatly honoring me today."
She addressed the graduating class by encouraging them to "Laugh, love, and forgive yourselves...honor your creative process and imagination...(artists) are needed because we dare to imagine."