Robert Farris Thompson, Ph.D. – Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
Robert Farris Thompson, Ph.D., an internationally distinguished art historian, will speak at the Undergraduate Commencement and receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Thompson, who received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Yale (1955, 1961, 1965), has revolutionized the discipline of art history and transformed society's understanding of the cultural history of the Americas. His exhibition and catalogue, African Art in Motion (1974) at the National Gallery of Art in Wash., D.C., marked a turning point in the field when Thompson demonstrated the existence and importance of African aesthetics for the interpretation of African art. In 1983, Thompson released his best-selling book, Flash of the Spirit: African and African-American Art and Philosophy, in which he locates the sources of contemporary Black Atlantic aesthetic practices in a diversity of cultures in Africa, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. These are just two examples of Thompson's extraordinarily rich body of work, which also includes perceptive essays on artists such as James Hampton, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Betye Saar, David Hammons, and Keith Haring. Five decades of tireless research have now equipped him to tackle at last the transcultural richness of Mambo, a life-long passion. The publication of Staccato Incandescence: Mambo In Art History is underway. Thompson is the Colonel John Trumbull Professor Emeritus of History of Art and Professor of African American Studies at Yale, where he served on the faculty since 1965. He formerly was Master of Timothy Dwight College at Yale from 1978 through 2010. In 2003, the College Art Association, in its inaugural award of Distinguished Lifetime Achievement for Art Writing, honored this "towering figure in the history of art, whose voice for diversity and cultural openness has made him a public intellectual of resounding importance."
Alison Saar – Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
Alison Saar, award-winning painter and sculptor, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. A 1978 alumna of Scripp's College in Claremont, Calif., Saar is a scholar of African, Caribbean and Latin American art studies and former artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Otis Art Institute, now Otis College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles. A recipient of major grants including a United States Artists Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and two artist fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, she has exhibited extensively, with key showings at prestigious venues including the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. and the Modern Museum of Art in New York. Saar's visual language of often life-sized works includes Swing Low-a powerful 10-foot, two-ton bronze statue of Maryland-born runaway slave and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman-commissioned and ceremoniously unveiled by the city of New York in 2008 at the Harriet Tubman Memorial Plaza in Harlem.
Alumni Award Recipient – Stuart B. Cooper '72
Stuart B. Cooper, '72 BFA in Photography, will receive the honorary Alumni Award for his outstanding contributions as a MICA alumnus. He has worked in numerous facets of the entertainment industry throughout the United States and abroad from television shows, independent feature films, music videos and interactive DVD's to documentaries. Cooper holds a BFA in photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and an M.A. in Environmental Design Communications from Goddard College. He taught film and video as an adjunct faculty member at both Dag Hammarskjold University and Antioch College. He developed an expertise in using film and video as a research tool after consulting with Margaret Mead and Lenora Foerstel (a former MICA Professor), which has proved useful in his work with kinesics and his consultation work with the arts and communications. Cooper spent time living abroad in such diverse cultures as Denmark, Holland, Anguilla, and India and continues to travel extensively throughout the world. He is currently a member of the MICA Alumni Council and is on the Board of Trusties of Aperture, a not for profit foundation promoting the fine art of photography. He has helped to establish the MICA/Aperture program at MICA's photo department and he recently has endowed a Chair in Photography at MICA for the fine art of still photography. Copper would like his support to MICA to be a catalyst for other alumni to give regularly to MICA whatever they can afford, small or large. This will help provide a way for MICA to ensure an education for those who cannot afford to attend the college. This will also bolster the reputation of the school, which will help bolster the reputation of its graduates.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Doreen Bolger, Ph.D., H'13
Doreen Bolger, Ph.D., H'13, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) since 1998, will receive the Medal of Honor. Bolger's legacy at the BMA includes a successful $75 million capital campaign and the opening of new and expanded galleries through a $28 million renovation. She redefined the museum's mission to focus on art of the modern era, placed greater emphasis on its world-renowned collection, initiated major scholarly traveling exhibitions, expanded educational programs and eliminated general admission fees to provide greater access for the public. Prior to her leadership at the BMA, Bolger was director of the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design. She also previously served as curator of American paintings and sculpture at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and curator of paintings and sculpture at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas. A passionate community leader and scholar on 19th-and early 20th-century American art, Bolger is intensively engaged in Baltimore's vibrant arts culture community, serving on the boards of Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Station North Arts & Entertainment District, Inc. and D center Baltimore. She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from MICA in 2013.
Joseph McNeely, J.D.
Joseph McNeely, J.D., a graduate of the University of the Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and founding Executive Director of the Central Baltimore Partnership (CBP), will be awarded the MICA Medal of Honor. During his CBP tenure beginning in 2006, McNeely united groundbreaking economic development collaboration with more than 60 member organizations including MICA and two other major institutions of higher education--Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore. Under McNeely's leadership, CBP has been a stimulus for $800 million in capital investment, the development of one of the nation's leading arts districts, and 1,200 units of new and renovated housing units in nearly a dozen Baltimore City neighborhoods. Prior to his tenure at CBP, McNeely served for two decades as the president of the Development Training Institute, noted by national columnist Neal Pierce as "the country's premier trainer for CDC (Community Development Corporation)". Before serving at the national level in the Jimmy Carter Administration, he was the founding executive director of Baltimore's South East Community Organization (SECO) and Southeast Community Development Corporation (SCDC). He serves on numerous boards and committees in the city of Baltimore and is a past president of the Citizens' Planning and Housing Association (CPHA). He is the author of Columbia University Press' textbook, Community Economic Development in Social Work (2014,) and co-facilitator of the Weinberg Fellows program of the University of Baltimore's Schaefer Center.
Anne South '66
Anne South, '66 BFA in Industrial Design, will be awarded the MICA Medal of Honor for her outstanding services as Senior Director of the Office of Events at MICA. South joined MICA as a staff member in 1999 with her appointment as the first full-time Events Coordinator for the Development Department. Prior to this time, South had operated her own events planning firm and served as an events contractor to the College since 1994. In addition to her work with MICA and self-employment, Ms. South had worked extensively in events planning and arts administration as Director of the Allegany County Arts Council and the purchase and renovation of the Western Maryland Railroad Station and Maryland Citizens for the Arts. In 2004 when the MICA Office of Events was established within the Department of Operations, South was promoted to Senior Director and assumed responsibility for the management and oversight of external and internal events and programming of College facilities; planning, coordination and production of major MICA events and major student/public events; coordination of the College calendar and scheduling and reservation of facilities. In addressing these responsibilities Ms. South has initiated policies, plans and procedures, calendars and information. Ms. South currently directs a staff of four and will retire at the end of June, 2015.