Commencement 2015: Honorary Degrees Awarded to Anne Bogart and Liz Lerman

SEATTLE, WA -- Cornish College of the Arts President Nancy J. Uscher announced that honorary degrees will be awarded at this year’s Centennial Commencement to award-winning stage/opera director and author Anne Bogart and to choreographer and McArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Liz Lerman. In addition, this year’s Distinguished Recent Alumni Awards will go  to Jerick Hoffer and Richard Andriessen and the Distinguished Alumni Award will go to Kent Devereaux. Bogart, who co-founded SITI Company, will be the commencement speaker for the Centennial class of 2015 during the May 9 ceremonies at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at the Seattle Center.

“As part of our ongoing Centennial celebrations, we’re honored to have these notable artists and alumni join us for this joyous event,” said President Uscher.

President Uscher will confer degrees on more than 200 graduating seniors at this year's ceremony. Founder Nellie Cornish started her school of visual and performing arts in November 1914 on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Today the College’s campus includes facilities on Capitol Hill, in the South Lake Union neighborhood, and the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center.

Jerick Hoffer graduated summa cum laude with BFA in Theater from Cornish College of the Arts in 2010. As Jinkx Monsoon, he was the season five winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, holding a record on the show for being on the top for eight consecutive weeks. Cornish graduate Richard Andriessen (BFA in Theater) and Hoffer created The Vaudevillians, which played to capacity crowds last fall at Seattle Rep's Leo K Theatre. Andriessen composed the music for and starred in Washington Ensemble Theater's original musical The Callers and has musical credits for venues throughout Washington.

Kent Devereaux became the president of New Hampshire Institute of Art in January 2015.  A graduate of Cornish, he returned to the College in 2008. As the Chair of the Music Department until December 2014, he expanded the college's professional music concert series, now known as Cornish Presents, as well as co-founding Seattle Jazz Experience, which just concluded its second year at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center.

“Throughout its history, Cornish has opened its doors to artists with bold dreams and embraced those who wanted to make a difference in the world,” said President Uscher. “The artists we honor at Commencement, and the graduates who leave here to become the next generation of distinguished alumni, uphold that tradition. We are very excited to see what they will accomplish next as artists, citizens, and innovators.”

The Cornish Centennial Commencement will take  place at 11:00  a.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center. Cornish College of the Arts awards Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Fine Arts in art, dance, design, performance production, and theater as well as a post-graduate Artist Diploma in Early Music.

More About This Year’s Honorees

Anne Bogart, Honorary Degree Recipient and Commencement Speaker

Anne Bogart is one of the three Co-Artistic Directors of SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. A Professor at Columbia University where she runs the Graduate Directing Program, she is the recipient of a Doris Duke Artist Grant, a USA Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Recent works with SITI include Persians; Steel Hammer; A Rite, Café Variations;  Trojan Women; American Document; Antigone; Under Construction;  Freshwater; Who Do You Think You Are; Radio Macbeth; Hotel Cassiopeia; Death and the Ploughman; La Dispute; Score; bobrauschenbergamerica; Room; War of the Worlds; Cabin Pressure; War of the Worlds: The Radio Play; Alice’s Adventures; Culture of Desire; Small Lives/Big Dreams; The Medium; Noel Coward’s Hay Fever and Private Lives; August Strindberg’s Miss Julie; and Charles Mee’s Orestes. For opera companies, she has directed Norma; Carmen; I Capuleti e i Montecchi;Nicholas and Alexandra (Los Angeles Opera); Marina: A Captive Spirit (American Opera Projects); and Lilith and Seven Deadly Sins (New York City Opera); among others.  Bogart also is the author of five books: A Director Prepares; The Viewpoints Book; And Then, You Act; Conversations with Anne;and What’s the Story. 

Liz Lerman, Honorary Degree Recipient

Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator and speaker. A key aspect of her artistry is opening her process to various publics from shipbuilders to physicists, construction workers to ballerinas, resulting in both research and outcomes that are participatory, relevant, urgent, and usable by others. She founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and cultivated the company's unique multi-generational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance until 2011. Lerman was recently an artist-in-residence and visiting lecturer at Harvard University, and her current work, Healing Wars, is touring across the US. She conducts residencies on the Critical Response Process, creative research, the intersection of art and science, and the building of narrative within dance performance at such institutions as Yale School of Drama, Wesleyan University, University of Maryland – College Park, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the National Theatre Studio, among many others. Her collection of essays, Hiking  the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer, was published in 2011 by Wesleyan University Press and released in paperback in 2014. Lerman is the recipient of numerous honors, including a 2002 MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship, a 2011 United States Artists Ford Fellowship in Dance, and the 2014 Dance/USA Honor Award.

Jerick Hoffer, Distinguished Recent Alumni Award

Jerick Hoffer graduated summa cum laude with a degree in theatrical performance fromCornish College of the Arts in 2010 and is famous for his overbearing and impudent persona known as Jinkx Monsoon. The Jinkx Monsoon personality is a manifestation of years of practice, a career endeavor that began when Hoffer was 15. In 2006, Hoffer appeared as the lead dancer in the world's largest drag queen chorus line, which made the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2013, Jinkx Monsoon was the season five winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, holding a record on the show for being on the top for eight consecutive weeks. His roles in Seattle theaters include playing Moritz in Spring Awakening (produced by Balagan Theatre) and Angel in RENT (produced by The 5th Avenue Theatre). Hoffer has appeared as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (produced by Balagan Theatre and Seattle Theatre Group) and was one half of the musical comedy revue The Vaudevillianswhich played to sold-out houses at Seattle Rep’s Leo K. Theatre in 2014. He is the subject of the YouTube series and documentary film Drag Becomes Him, which opened as a feature film at the Cinerama in 2015.

Richard Andriessen, Distinguished Recent Alumni Award

Richard Andriessen is a writer, composer, and performer from Seattle, who created and starred as Doctor Dan Von Dandy in the musical comedy The Vaudevillians, which sold out at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York and Seattle Rep's Leo K Theatre. His off-Broadway solo show, Major Scales’ Minor Breakdown, also played at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Andriessen has contributed original music to venues throughout Washington, and recent Seattle appearances include "Rainbow Expansion Unit" at Intiman Theatre, a review inspired by Tony Kushner’s Angels in AmericaHe composed music for and starred in Washington Ensemble Theater's original musical The Callers, which was nominated for a Gregory for best new play of 2012, and performs regularly in DeLouRue Presents Homo For the Holidays and Freedom Fantasia. He also wrote and performed for the Inevitable Album with Jerick Hoffer. Andriessen graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in Theater from Cornish College of the Arts. 

Kent Devereaux, Distinguished Alumni Award

Kent Devereaux became the president of New Hampshire Institute of Art in January 2015.  A graduate of Cornish, he returned to the College in 2008 and became the Chair of the Music Department. As a composer and director, Devereaux’s own work includes collaborations with artists from around the world and performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, the Walker Arts Center, and elsewhere. He studied music composition with Lou Harrison and Gordon Mumma while attending the University of California at Santa Cruz, and with Anthony Braxton and Art Lande at Cornish. He earned his Master in Fine Arts degree with a focus on visual art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He also studied computer science at Stanford University. Prior to joining Cornish’s faculty, Devereaux was Senior Vice President and Dean of Curriculum for Kaplan University.

Centennial Celebration Year Partners

Cornish Centennial celebration year activities have been made possible in part by the following Centennial Celebration Year Partners: Ankrom Moisan, Capstone Development Partners, Cochran, Howard S. Wright and Sellen.

About Cornish College of the Arts

Founded in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Art, Dance, Design, Performance Production and Theater, a Bachelor of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in Early Music. Since its beginning, the College’s founder Nellie Cornish, and the many teaching artists who followed her, believed in education through exposure to all the arts. This approach continues to inform the College’s curriculum and community involvement today. The College is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

The College owns or operates more than a dozen buildings in three Seattle neighborhoods. Its main campus is located at South Lake Union, where the 20-story Cornish Commons will open in 2015. The Art, Design, Film+Media Department, the Theater Department, and the Performance Production Department offices are located on this campus. Cornish also owns the historic Kerry Hall on Capitol Hill, built by the College in the 1920s, where dancer Martha Graham, composer John Cage, and Northwest painter Mark Tobey all instructed students. This building continues to serve today as the home of the Music and Dance departments and houses PONCHO Concert Hall.

In addition, Cornish now operates the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair and former home of the Seattle Rep and Intiman Theatre, respectively. Today the Cornish Playhouse and the Cornish Playhouse Studio, as well as the nearby Scene Shop on Roy St., are used for college programs and student productions as well as serving more than 30 nonprofits annually.