Commencement 2022

Commencement 2022

San Francisco Art Institute

Jennifer Rissler, Linda Lomahaftewa, and Rye Purvis. Photos: Eric Zhang.

June 17, 2022
Commencement 2022
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, California 94133
United States
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San Francisco Art Institute Commencment and MFA and BFA Exhibitions.

On May 21, the San Francisco Art Institute held what is likely to be its final May commencement as an independent art school with eloquent and rousing speeches that celebrated its 151-year history. The newly minted graduates are expected to be among SFAI's last because of the plans to be acquired by the University of San Francisco to create a program called SFAI at USF. 

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 commencement festivities were accompanied by the 2022 Bachelor of Fine Arts exhibition, Why Should We Call It Anything? From May 21 to June 3, 2022, it was on view with exhibiting 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. 

SFAI recognized Philip Leider as the founder of Artforum and its creation at SFAI with the Douglas G. MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Award. SFAI bestows the MacAgy Award on a person who has made a singularly compelling societal contribution, especially concerning the public awareness of issues and ideas through the visual arts.  

Our undergraduate student speaker, Kellen Chasuk, shared her thoughts about the future of our world through art, and our graduate student speaker, Kimberly Keown, invoked our collective voices to move together into our distinct yet united futures. Faculty speaker, Dewey Crumpler, concluded, "People make this place. This small place in Northern California has echoed waves of creativity that have moved, as was stated, throughout the world. So the name may change. The building may take on different shapes. But the permanency is in your mind; it's in your body and in what you will produce. And you have challenged all of us because we have challenged you. And we have shaped your opportunity to change the world with your making. And I want to join my colleagues in saying to you, step into your change. And do just that, and you will contribute to this creative force in the world." 

About San Francisco Art Institute
Founded in 1871, San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious higher education institutions in the practice and study of contemporary art. As a diverse community of working artists and scholars, SFAI provides students with a rigorous education in the arts and preparation for a life in the arts through an immersive studio environment, integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world. As the birthplace of numerous influential art movements, SFAI nurtures emerging artists who will shape the future of art, culture, and society. Notable faculty and alumni—including Ansel Adams, Kathryn Bigelow, Iona Rozeal Brown, Joan Brown, Nao Bustamante, Enrique Chagoya, Dewey Crumpler, Imogen Cunningham, Angela Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Kota Ezawa, Karen Finley, Paul Kos, George Kuchar, Annie Leibovitz, Manuel Neri, Catherine Opie, José Clemente Orozco, Man Ray, Rigo 23, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Carlos Villa and Kehinde Wiley. Learn more at

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June 17, 2022

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