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Conceptual Artist Mel Chin to Deliver Commencement Address May 18

Chin, Joyce E. Robinson to Receive Honorary Degrees; Jeff Koons ’76 to Receive Alumni Award; Faculty Tylden Streett ’54, ’57 to Receive Medal of Honor

Posted 05.04.09 by MICA Media Relations

Portrait of Mel Chin.

BALTIMORE-The Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and graduating students at MICA are delighted to welcome ecologically and politically engaged sculptor Mel Chin to deliver remarks at the College's 183rd Commencement on Monday, May 18 at 1:30 p.m. in the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. Chin, who will also receive an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, explores ways that art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility by insinuating it into unlikely places.

Joyce E. Robinson, who has devoted her career to providing financial assistance to gifted visual artists as vice president and executive director of The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, will receive the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Internationally acclaimed sculptor Jeff Koons '76 will receive the Alumni Award. This year's Medal of Honor winner is longtime sculpture faculty Tylden Streett '54, '57.

Degrees are scheduled to be awarded to 466 MICA students, including bachelor's of fine arts (BFA) degrees in art history, ceramics, fiber, general sculptural studies, interdisciplinary sculpture, sculpture, drawing, general fine arts, painting, printmaking, photography, environmental design, graphic design, illustration, experimental animation, interactive media, and video; as well as the post-baccalaureate certificate in fine arts, master of arts (MA) in art education, community arts, and teaching; and master of fine arts (MFA) in graphic design, Hoffberger School of Painting, Mount Royal School of Art, Photographic & Electronic Media, Rinehart School of Sculpture, and studio art.

Commencement is a ticketed event.

In conjunction with Commencement, the public is invited to view the work of undergraduate students in the class of 2009 as part of MICA's campus-wide Commencement Exhibition, which runs Friday, May 15-Monday, May 18 with a reception on Sunday, May 17, 1:30-5 p.m. Experimental animation presentations take place Friday, May 15 at 7 p.m. in Falvey Hall of Brown Center. Senior video screenings take place Saturday, May 16 at 7 p.m. in Falvey Hall.

For more information, please call 410-225-2300.

Image caption: Mel Chin will give the Commencement address on Monday, May 18. (Photo courtesy of the artist.)


About the honorees

Mel Chin - Honorary Degree of Fine Arts

Mel Chin was born in Houston, Texas and began making art at an early age. Chin's art, which is both analytical and poetic, evades easy classification. He is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas. He developed Revival Field (1989-ongoing), a project that has been a pioneer in the field of "green remediation," the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil. These projects are consistent with a conceptual philosophy which emphasizes the practice of art to include sculpting and bridging the natural and social ecology. Chin is well known for his iconic sculptures, works that often address the importance of memory and collective identity; and Chin insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. Chin's socially engaged projects also challenge the idea of the artist as the exclusive creative force behind an artwork. "Sometimes, the survival of my own idea may not be as important as a condition I might create for others' ideas to be realized," says Chin, who often enlists entire neighborhoods or groups of students in creative partnerships. A current work is the Fundred Dollar Bill/Operation Paydirt Project, an attempt to make New Orleans a lead-safe city. Chin's work has been seen on the popular PBS program, Art of the 21st Century. Chin received a BA from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1975. With numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Art Matters, Creative Capital, and the Penny McCall, Pollock/Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Rockefeller and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundations, Chin has created many commissions, public art installations, and one-person exhibitions around the world.

Joyce E. Robinson - Honorary Degree of Humane Letters

Joyce E. Robinson has been vice president and executive director of The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation since its inception in 1985. She devoted her career to fulfilling Marie Walsh Sharpe's dream of providing financial assistance to gifted visual artists. Robinson developed nationally renowned programs - including the Summer Seminar for gifted high school students held at Colorado College, organized and facilitated a visual artists' resource hotline currently known as NYFA Source, and was the organizer and administrator of The Space Program, offering free studio spaces for artists in New York. In addition to speaking and presenting at symposiums and conferences throughout the country and abroad, Robinson has received numerous awards and recognition for her service to artists and the arts. She has a bachelor's of science degree in education from the University of Cincinnati; master's of art degree from the University of Northern Colorado; and has done graduate study in fine art and music at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; University of Northern Colorado; and University of South Dakota.

Jeff Koons - Alumni Award recipient

Jeff Koons received a BFA from MICA in 1976. Koons' work has been exhibited internationally and is in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), Guggenheim Museum (New York), The National Gallery (Washington), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Tate Gallery (London), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Museum Ludwig (Köln, Germany), and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum. Koons is also known for his public sculptures, such as the monumental floral sculptures, Puppy, shown at Rockefeller Center and permanently installed at the Guggenheim Bilbao, and Split-Rocker, exhibited at the Papal Palace in Avignon, France. Koons was the first living artist to exhibit at the Palace of Versailles. Most recently, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin presented a solo exhibition of his Celebration sculptures.

Tylden Streett - Medal of Honor recipient

Tylden Streett has been a dedicated member of the MICA faculty for 50 years. Streett graduated from MICA in 1954 after attending St. John's College in Annapolis for two years. In 1957, he earned his MFA degree from MICA. After serving as assistant to sculptor Lee Lawrie, Streett began teaching figurative sculpture. From 1959-1960, he served as Director of the Rinehart School of Sculpture. Streett has received local and national commissions and has received several prestigious awards.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.