Illustration: Briana Arrington

The undergraduate student speaker at MICA’s 168th Commencement on Monday, May 15th, Briana Arrington ’17 (Illustration B.F.A.) brings energy to whatever space she is in — and that energy translates back into her creative making. She incorporates her identities into her work and is a firm believer that representation matters.

Those philosophies are clear when you look at her time at MICA. An active student leader, the Philadelphia native served as president for both the Black Student Union and Volleyball Club. Briana is also the African American Programmer for MICA’s Office of Diversity and Intercultural Development. In 2016, she took part in the Annual Benefit Fashion Show and in 2017, she was the event’s assistant director. Her zine series Coconut Oil, which discusses the politics, history, struggle and beauty of black hair, will be on display during Art Walk.

When talking about her experience at the College, Briana said, “It wasn’t until later during my time at MICA that I began to feel confident in who I am and in my own abilities. I think it’s through the challenge that MICA creates. The students here are some of the best artists around, and there’s a drive — not to compete — but to learn from each other and to get better.”

“The faculty push you and also reassure you that you were meant to be here, and you can do this” she said, adding, “Sandra Strickland in the Illustration department, was someone I looked up to because she’s I love her work and the books she’s created. But she’s also a successful black woman out in the world accomplishing so many great things. The color of her skin doesn’t hold her back. That’s something I needed to see.”