Scenes from CalArts Graduation 2024

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The sunny spring day of Friday, May 10 saw a burst of sculptural flora sprouting on the stage of Graduation Courtyard. Designed around a botanical theme, the 2024 CalArts graduation heralded a celebration of growth and new beginnings for this year’s graduating class. 

The day’s festivities kicked off in the Main Entrance with performances by the CalArts Balinese Gamelan Ensemble and Balinese Dance, directed by School of Music faculty Nyoman Wenten and Nanik Wenten, respectively. 

At 4 pm, CalArtians and their guests gathered in the Main Gallery for the President’s Reception for Family and Friends, where they enjoyed an energetic performance by Danny Clvrk. Pre-ceremony festivities continued with a set of original songs by Janelle Leigh Stafford at Graduation Courtyard, which opened for seating at 5 pm. 

The annual procession of graduating students and Institute leadership, led by the African Music and Dance Ensemble, signaled the start of commencement. Once the students were seated, Tataviam Elder Dennis Garcia (Fernandeño Tataviam/Chumash) delivered the invocation, followed by addresses by Provost Tracie Costantino, Chair of the Board of Trustees Charmaine Jefferson, Student Union President Grace Hlavacek, and President Ravi Rajan. 

Hlavacek, who was accompanied by her dog Misty, congratulated her peers and reminded them of the enduring ties of the CalArts community: “As we move on to wherever this silly little world takes us next, I want to share a little reminder that CalArts is more than just these four-ish walls. The building behind us is just a space. CalArts is so much more than that. Being a CalArtian and part of this community expands so much farther than we can begin to imagine as current students still sitting here today.”

President Ravi Rajan lauded the graduates for their conviction to pursue an “extraordinarily optimistic path,” particularly in a global society increasingly plagued by a resistance to critical thought and thoughtful discourse.

“As artists, you have the power to subvert the status quo with these models of the world,” said Rajan. “In doing this, you understand that you are creating art that requires discomfort. It requires bravery. It requires living your values. And sometimes, it involves failure. Failure is an essential part of an artist’s work, as essential as it is to continue to strive to succeed.”

CalArts alums and trustees Lyndon Barrois Sr. (Film/Video MFA 95) and Ramsey Naito (Art MFA 95) then joined the stage to announce the 2024 CalArts honorary degree recipients: film director, screenwriter, and producer Gina Prince-Bythewood and actor, director, and musician Keanu Reeves. (Watch their addresses from 1:52:13 to 2:09:33 in the livestream recording above.)

The presentation of the 2024 graduates began with the School of Film/Video, followed by the School of Critical Studies, The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, the School of Theater, The Herb Alpert School of Music, and the School of Art. In accordance with CalArts tradition, graduates selected 10-second audio snippets to play as they walked across the stage.

The party continued into the evening as graduates and guests headed to the Main Gallery for a celebration reception, featuring performances by the African Music and Dance Ensemble and the CalArts Salsa Band, directed by Music faculty David Roitstein.

If you missed the ceremony livestream, we’ve added the recording above for your viewing pleasure. Congratulations again to the CalArts class of 2024!

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PUBLISHED BY Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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