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Commencement and MFA/BFA exhibitions 2022 at San Francisco Art Institute

On May 21, the San Francisco Art Institute honored its 151-year history with eloquent and impassioned speeches at what is likely to be its final May commencement as an independent art school. Because of intentions to be acquired by the University of San Francisco to develop a program called SFAI at USF, the freshly minted grads are believed to be among the last SFAI alumni.

While addressing the graduates, Board Chair Lonnie Graham (MFA ’84) stated, “So perhaps these reflections could be about a passing, but I believe it’s more about evolution. I believe it’s more about the way that we communicate and the significance of our school…And how the faculty, staff, and students have come together to communicate not just new modalities of self-expression but to lay the foundation for a unique educational practice.”

The 2022 Bachelor of Fine Arts show, Why Should We Call It Anything?, was on display at the commencement festivities. It was on display from May 21 through June 3, 2022, and featured artists Kellen Chasuk, England Hidalgo, and Barrett Moore.

In addition, the 2022 Master of Fine Arts exhibition, THRESHOLDS, was on view from May 20 to June 3, 2022. Exhibiting artists were Bryan Birch, Kimberly Keown, Mikayla Mays, Jennifer Polendo, Sandra Ramos Lorenzo, Eve Werner, and Kyle Wilhite.

At the commencement ceremony, SFAI recognized alumna Linda Lomahaftewa (Hopi/Choctaw) with a Doctorate of Fine Arts, honoris causa. Lomahaftewa is a celebrated artist who unites the ancient Native American world with the contemporary in her modernist paintings and printmaking and was honored as both a working artist and an art educator. She writes of her art that her “imagery comes from being Hopi and remembering shapes and colors from ceremonies and the landscape. I associate a special power and respect, a sacredness, with these colors and shapes, and this carries over into my work.” Lomahaftewa graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IATA) and received a full scholarship to the SFAI, where she earned her BFA (1970) and MFA (1971) in painting. In 1976, she returned to Santa Fe and her alma mater, where she has taught painting, drawing, and two-dimensional arts for the past forty-one years.

The Douglas G. MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Award was given to Philip Leider, the founder of Artforum and its creation at SFAI. The MacAgy Award is given by the San Francisco Art Institute to a person who has made a singularly compelling societal contribution, particularly in terms of raising public awareness of issues and ideas through the visual arts.

San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) was founded in 1871 and is one of the country’s oldest and most distinguished higher education institutes for modern art practice and research. Through an immersive studio setting, an integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world, SFAI, as a diverse community of active artists and academics, provides students with a rigorous arts education and preparation for a life in the arts. SFAI develops rising artists who will affect the future of art, culture, and society as the origin of countless major art movements.