End of Year Letter from Head of School Charlie White

Posted on May 17, 2022

Dear School of Art Community,

On Saturday, I had the honor of presiding over our first in-person diploma ceremony in two years, and what a joy it was to be back together again! Not only did we celebrate the class of 2022, we also welcomed back members of the classes of 2020 and 2021. All three of these cohorts have faced challenges unlike any group that has come before them, and I want to offer my sincerest congratulations to all graduates!

Despite continuing challenges due to the pandemic, both our graduating 2022 MFA and undergraduate students mounted impressive final exhibitions at the Miller ICA this spring. The artworks on view were ambitious in scope, accomplished in technical execution, rigorous in concept, and demonstrated the vast breadth of artistic practices within our student body. Earlier this semester, we also published an ambitious book project two years in the making from the MFA class of 2020. A result of the cancellation of their thesis exhibition two weeks before opening, the book pairs each MFA graduate with an established artist, curator, or scholar.

Outside the classroom, juniors Ester Petukhova and Ajunie Virk were selected for the prestigious Yale Norfolk School of Art’s undergraduate summer residency. We also checked in with Iz Horgan as part of our two-minute studio visit video series and we heard reflections from graduating seniors about their time at CMU in our Senior Spotlight series. Earlier this spring, we took a group of students New York City to meet with independent artists, emerging technology practitioners, and other creative professionals to hear first-hand about creative careers. Among our graduate community, Rosabel Rosalind exhibited her work at the Jewish Museum Maryland, Lena Chen with collaborator Maggie Oates were awarded a 2022 Mozilla Creative Media Award, and Anisha Baid received a grant from the India Foundation for the Arts.

Our faculty have received numerous honors for their art practices and scholarship this semester. A small sampling of these achievements includes a Guggenheim Fellowship for Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow Alisha Wormsley, inaugural Creative Development Awards from The Heinz Endowments for Professors James Duesing and Imin Yeh, and a solo exhibition at Artists Space of Professor Lyndon Barrois Jr.’s work. We’re also excited that Professor Angela Washko’s documentary Workhorse Queen is now available to rent and will make its broadcast debut on Starz in June, and that Professor Jongwoo Kim’s new book is under contract with University of California Press and is scheduled to be released next year.

As we close this semester, we’re sad to say goodbye to cornerstones of the School of Art faculty, John Carson and Susanne Slavick, as they retire. Both of these professors, who also each served as Head of School, have shaped the School of Art through investing in facilities, hiring exceptional faculty, and supporting experimental student and faculty initiatives. As teachers, they’ve helped generations of students harness the power of their own artistic voices to engage those outside the art world and to use their practices to imagine alternatives to injustice. As we wish John and Susanne well in their retirement, we are also excited to welcome two new artists to our faculty this fall, Britt Ransom and Ling-lin Ku. Both of these innovative sculptors harness the power of digital technology to reflect upon our relationship with the world around us.

Finally, we also caught up with several alumni over this last semester to learn how their time at CMU has influenced their careers. We chatted with four alumni working in public art—Adriana Garcia BFA ’99, Will Schlough’s BFA ’07, Carin Mincemoyer BFA ’96, and Oreen Cohen MFA ’14—to learn more about what their work brings to public spaces, the logistics of working in this sphere, and the challenges that differ from those of a studio practice. We also spoke with Ian Ingram MFA ’10 to learn how he uses robotics to bridge the communication gap between humans and animals and with Shanna Tellerman BFA ’03 to learn what art has to do with successfully launching two start-up companies.

In closing, I would like to once again extend my congratulations to the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022! I wish you all a peaceful and relaxing summer.


Charlie White
Regina and Marlin Miller Head of School
School of Art
Professor of Art
Carnegie Mellon University

Photos by Sean Carroll