Photos and Captions 

For Immediate Release 



  Eric Davis, Marketing & Communications Director
          505.424.2351, or


 Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)  

2019 Graduation Ceremony
 65 Degrees and Certificates Conferred on May 18, 2019


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 Artswas awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree, in addition to delivering the commencement address.

Swentzell spoke of her family -- daughter Rose Bean Simpsonwho 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."

Above are some of the 2019 IAIA Class of Graduates -- (L to R) LeRoy Grafe; Tiffany T. Adams (Chemehuevi/Konkow/Nisenan); Tuesday Harper (Nahuatl); Ryan Young (Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians); and Tina Sparks.

Top photo: Carolyn Wright. Bottom photo: Jason S. Ordaz. Both courtesy of IAIA.

Offering undergraduate degrees in Studio Arts, Creative Writing, Cinematic Arts and Technology, Indigenous Liberal Studies, Museum Studies, and Performing Arts -- an MFA in Creative Writing -- along with certificates in Business and Entrepreneurship, Museum Studies, and Native American Art History -- IAIA is the only college in the nation dedicated to the study of contemporary Native arts. The school serves 495 full time equivalent (FTE) Native and non-Native American college students from across the globe.  IAIA is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission -- and is the only college in New Mexico accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design

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About IAIA -- For over 50 years, the Institute of American Indian Arts has played a key role in the direction and shape of Native expression. With an internationally acclaimed college, museum, and tribal support resource through the IAIA Land Grant Programs, IAIA is dedicated to the study and advancement of Native arts and cultures -- and committed to student achievement and the preservation and progress of their communities.  Learn more about IAIA and our mission at


The Institute of American Indian Arts Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.  To make a donation on-line, please click here -- or call toll free: 1.800.804.6423.