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Commencement 2017 – You Will Climb the Sky

Invoking both Cornish College of the Arts’ storied past and the ever-changing creative landscape of the 21st century, Commencement speaker Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker told 2017 graduates: “You will climb the sky.

The 2017 Commencement took place at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. Friends, families, and graduates filled the auditorium for the awarding of degrees in Art, Dance, Design, Film+Media, Interior Architecture, Music, Performance Production, and Theater.

“Look around you. Take it all in. Revel in the joy and pride that surrounds you,” Interim Provost Star Rush counseled the graduating class of 2017. “This is a time of happiness for the faculty and staff of Cornish College. We are grateful for the chance to send you off with celebration and simultaneously welcome you into the Cornish community of accomplished alumni. To all of you, on behalf of all of us: Thank you for choosing Cornish. And congratulations to you all, our Class of 2017."

The student speaker at this year’s event was Performance Production graduate Blake Huddleston ’17. Student performances began with Dance graduate Khadijah Patricia Lindo ’17 performing “Want To Get What’s Mine.” Theater graduates Madeline Marie Brantz ’17, Victor Brown DeMarco ’17, Devyn Sherae Grendell ’17, Brianna Suzanne Landrie ’16, AnnaClaire Laush ’17, Olivia Hope Maassen ‘17, Kate Lynn Moen '17, Cassandra Anne Neumann '17, Maizy Grace Perdue '17, Taylor Colleen Peters '17, David Thomas Rock '17, Mika Marie Swanson '17, Hannah Rachel Tamkin '17, and Samatha Rose White '17 sang "Bring Me to Light" from Violet.

Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, director emeritus of Seattle’s beloved Frye Art Museum and the recently appointed Director and CEO of the Sydney Biennale, gave the Commencement address. “One of your most important mentors - whose artistic DNA you carry in your present and future self - is Mark Tobey, the artist-revolutionary who founded the art department at the Cornish School of Art in 1921,” said Danzker. “All that you will accomplish - under whatever conditions of constraint you may confront – will be constructed on the will to experiment, to cross boundaries, and to question - and hold dear - articles of faith.”

In conclusion, she stated, “Your role as creative beings will not be about what you know because it will never be enough. It will be a call to action, a call to reconstruction, and a call to generosity. You will climb the sky.”

Honorary Doctorate degrees were awarded at this year’s Commencement to Danzker, artist Abigail Gray Swartz, and art historian David Martin. In addition, this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award went to Seattle Children’s Theater Artistic Director Courtney Sale ’01 and the Distinguished Recent Alumni Award will go to dancer/choreographer/teacher Sam Picart ’13.

Also awarded during the ceremony were the Teaching Excellence Awards. Selection of the faculty is made by the students to honor those individuals for their capacity to support, to engage, and to inspire. This year’s recipients were Design instructor Dan Shafer, Humanities & Sciences Assistant Professor Jack DeLap, and Theater instructor Sheila Daniels.