Congratulations to our 31 graduates who completed their studies in 2021.
On Tuesday 12 April we celebrated the achievements of our newest graduates. Minister for the Arts Andrea Michaels presented the graduates with their parchments and we enjoyed keynote speeches from esteemed lecturer Chris Orchard and 2021 BVA graduate Caitlin Berzins.
Caitlin’s 2022 graduation speech:
Hello everyone, I have 5 minutes and as it turns out I have a bit to say.
What an honour it is to be here today receiving the piece of paper that commemorates our competence as individuals in doing a whole thing to completion, our devotion to the arts but also it represents our time as students here at ACSA.
As the sleep debt and the flashbacks of panicked stress-reading academic texts off of a bright screen at 2am begin to fade, the best takeaways begin to shine forth.
After all there is something magic about being a student at ACSA – Initially, it was very similar to how I imagine going off to Hogwarts would be – In the beginning it’s all very exciting, you get to buy a list of expensive potions from a niche Art shop and you get to choose a bunch of paint brushes where eventually it seems like a particular brush chooses you.
I was nervous as we all were day one, but the great thing about this community is that it is an incredibly warm, welcoming, inclusive, beautiful culture.
The first year at ACSA was built around careful observation; studying the greats, training the eye to see what is in front of it rather than what the brain tells us is there. The remainder of the degree actually aligned with something closer to a kind of Jedi academy. We were shown “One must work hard in their awareness, training and skills as well as patience in rigorous dedication and commitment until one day the force will guide you” . I came to realise everything I knew about painting and making art in general to be inconclusive. Working in an art store surrounded by art supplies, endless possibilities, endless creations. – ACSA taught me that I don’t need any of it. All the invisible tools are within me that will guide me through life as a creative.
Like all wizards and Jedi’s though the life of an artist is challenging, everyone has sacrificed and overcome immense challenges to be here. Getting here for many of us was half of the challenge. My origin story is not special, unfortunately it is too common – Long story cut very short, As it turned out my high school art teacher wasn’t actually an art teacher and didn’t really have an active interest in, or faith in art. Subsequently over the course of a year, fifteen students were heavily discouraged in pursuing art as a viable career – A bunch of able, curious and talented people all thrown off of of their preferred trajectory due to a lack of advocacy for the arts outside of this community.
Even with the most supportive family, It took me three career pivots and almost a decade later, I enrolled in ACSA. A friend of mine laughed the day I told them. That old cliché “How are you going to pay your bills as a student, let alone as a starving artist”?. “What are you going to do as your ‘real job?’… All good questions equally unanswerable for the rest of the course and maybe the rest of our lives.. But I don’t think that will be the case.
The next challenge for some meant 3 years full time study.. Others, most of us I think, this meant onwards and upwards of 4 – 7 years attending this school and this community. Most living double or triple lives, working while studying, some juggling children’s lives too. I commend you. “The choosing to do the work of altering or getting free of the natural, hard-wired default setting so deeply ingrained into us is no easy feat” .
Art school in a nut shell is an ‘antidote to blind certainty’ . Learning to unlearn, and then relearning from the ground up, or the inside out, or really it doesn’t necessarily work that way at all because it turns out ‘the universe’ and all moving parts within it “are under no obligation to make sense to you” . The search for our own voices through art is a journey like no other.
I didn’t want to focus on the years of scrambling to understand, constantly questioning how and why we make art. And does it matter? Or the cycle of finishing one component before already being behind on the next. Despite the high stress levels and ever expanding snowball of due dates looming ahead. Everyone here still had time for each other, a moment to share wisdom, inspiration, disbelief, despair, laughter or a chat in the doorway. I am so very proud of all of you. As insurmountable as it seemed at the time! We did it! In a lot of ways it has prepared us for the real world.
I want to thank my fellow cohort, the students who endured this journey beside me, you all are such a wonderful support network and I am truly honoured to know you. You abolished my perception and definition of art in so many ways – I am so very excited to see what my fellow graduates do from here.
I will sincerely miss classic hashtag artschool moments like Franklin performing a drawing in the hallway whilst holding the unknowing gaze of Andrew Herpich over four silent and very long minutes. Or Blake running blindfolded with a razor sharp pencil at he sprints towards a piece of paper taped to a brick wall.
Or um, the ‘accidental mark making class’ – the millepede edition…
All in the name of Art.
For everyone this has been an immense journey, an intense journey and an unforgettable one at ACSA. .. And so for many of us, this is indeed the end of an era
Thank you to the academic staff for your patience and ultimately herding a bunch of blind cats on their journeys between existential crisis. Thank you for your supervision, your ability to put words on to things I can not. You helped me guide myself and brought attention to the things that I would overlook.
Penny and Admin. Thank you for always being so warm and helpful in listening to the students and delivering on our requests – getting us world class coffee carts – we are eternally grateful for the triple shot lattes that ultimately got us here.
Thank you Jedi masters for sharing your insights and equipping us with your wisdom which will guide us into the future, each teaching as profound as the next and instrumental to our development. I wanted to do a shout out to everyone individually.. But Monte only gave me five minutes so I’ve had to cut almost all of you out, due to time restrictions 🙂 🙁
In art there are no rules, maybe guidelines, maybe mantras. Here are some wise words that stuck and I hear their voice echo and guide me as I do artist things.
Nona Burden on the importance of tone.. “Are your darkest darks dark enough?”
Chris Orchid on the importance of the mind and presence, “flow though like water.. or resist, it’s up to you after all. How special it is to be in that state of simultaneously in control, and ‘letting go’.”
Johnnie Dady on THE two points on what being an artist is “To make mistakes, and to choose the right mistake”. Thank you for the profound ability to see through objects, space and time.
Luke Thurgate on pointing out the nuanced distinction between ‘good good art’, ‘good bad art’, ‘bad good’ art and ‘bad bad’ art.
Yve Thompson on greatness – “a finished work of art is as good as the worst part”.
Daniel Connell on the power of art – “Art can only be art” – but ‘Each action performed, no matter the scale, influences the world’ . To be aware of future impacts – and yeah, we should be careful with that force.
“With this in mind Jedi perform each action with peace, caring, love, compassion and humility. So it is that each Jedi improves the world with each deed they perform”
I’m bursting with excitement for the future of Adelaide’s art scene because of the people at this school and the arts community as a whole. How thankful I am to be graduating with a bunch of clever, passionate, intelligent, honest, authentic, incredibly clever people we have here. Thank you x
images: Sam Roberts