Amani Willet

The class of 2022 has witnessed a generational sea change in which the tectonic plates of society have crumbled, shifted and taken our world to unexpected places. Today’s volatile social, racial and political climate has been difficult and painful, and it has necessitated that students engage with one another in unanticipated ways that have been both uncomfortable and rewarding. For many, the last few years left us without the words to describe how we are feeling and what we have witnessed. Luckily we have art. One of art’s greatest attributes is its ability to communicate what the written word cannot and to offer new ways of understanding our world and one another. The students whose work graces the pages of this catalog have all experienced seismic shifts in their lives. Each has wrestled with how to communicate their current relationship to today’s world in a meaningful and urgent way. But how could anyone possibly distill the complexity of the past few years into projects that live on a wall, screen, the confines of a book or an installation? The task can seem daunting, yet these brave souls, like their predecessors and contemporaries, have sought to try. Each has taken their own path, used their unique strategies and voices to share their visions with us. They have learned to use the medium with fluency and, by understanding how the essential elements of images operate, have connected themselves to the artists who for centuries have used cameras to do the same. Henri Cartier-Bresson said it’s an illusion that photographs are made with a camera. . . they are actually made with the eye, heart and head. These seniors understand this, and they have thought critically and engaged the world with fortitude. In the past few years, not only has the world changed, but also photography itself continues to change at a dizzying pace. Susan Sontag was prescient in her observation 45 years ago that everything exists to end in a photograph. Indeed - over two billion images are now made each day. In much of the work here, connections can be traced to the past and to a celebrated history and lineage of the medium. Yet perhaps the greatest strength of the work in this catalog is how these young artists are expanding upon the limited history of the traditional photographic canon. They understand that the stories that define the history of photography need to become more inclusive, and they demand that the medium keep pace with them and not the other way around. Working within this context, these artists have boldly shared their visions. Their stories are critical of the past but also begin to create a roadmap toward a bright and bountiful future for photography and visual culture. Class of 2022, may you continue to show us the way forward. Congratulations.