Cheryl D. Miller, Graphic Designer and Educator, Delivered Keynote Address at Rhode Island School of Design 2022 Commencement

Miller and artist Nick Cave received honorary degrees

PROVIDENCE, RI – On Saturday, June 4, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) awarded degrees to 413 undergraduate and 238 graduate students at its 139th Commencement ceremony. Commencement 2022 took place at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown Providence and was followed by a reception at Market Square to toast the Class of 2022. For more information on RISD’s 2022 Commencement and to view the ceremony, visit commencement.risd.edu

RISD presented two honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees to visionaries in contemporary culture. Graphic designer, educator and author Cheryl D. Miller accepted an honorary degree and delivered the keynote address. Artist and educator Nick Cave also accepted an honorary degree at the ceremony. Members of the Class of 2020 were honored in person and Brian Selznick 88 IL delivered the Class of 2020 address. In addition, artist Shahzia Sikander MFA 95 PT/PR delivered the keynote address at the Graduate Hooding Ceremony on Friday, June 3. 

For the first time, Reunion Weekend was held in conjunction with Commencement Weekend. The RISD alumni community came together to celebrate its accomplishments and welcome its newest members, the Class of 2022. Updates and event details available at alumni.risd.edu/reunions

Cheryl D. Miller | honorary degree recipient and keynote speaker
Graphic designer, educator and author Cheryl D. Miller aims to end the marginalization of BIPOC designers through her civil rights activism, industry exposé trade writing, rigorous research and archival vision. A nationally recognized advocate for equity and inclusion in graphic design and founder of the NYC social impact design firm Cheryl D. Miller Design, Inc., she currently serves as distinguished senior lecturer in design at the University of Texas–Austin (where she was the 2021 E.W. Doty fellow) and adjunct professor at Howard University. In 2021 she was an AIGA Medalist “Expanding Access,” a Cooper Hewitt “Design Visionary” awardee and an Honorary IBM Design Scholar. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Vermont College of Fine Arts and the President’s Global Advisory Board of Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned a BFA in Graphic Design from Maryland Institute College of Art, an MS in Communications Design from Pratt Institute, an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary and an honorary degree in Humane Letters from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her essays appear in PRINT and Communication Arts, and her D&I-related professional research is archived in the Cheryl D. Miller Collection at Stanford University.

Nick Cave | honorary degree recipient
Artist/educator Nick Cave works in a wide range of mediums, including sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance. His much-lauded Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on the scale of his body, were created in response to the police beating of Rodney King in 1991 and serve as a visual embodiment of both brutality and empowerment. Throughout his practice, Cave has created spaces of memorial by combining found historical objects with contemporary dialogues on gun violence, death and catastrophic loss. His work reminds us that while there may be despair, there remains space for hope and renewal. From dismembered body parts stem delicate metal flowers, affirming the potential for new growth. Cave encourages a profound and compassionate analysis of violence and its effects as the path towards an ultimate metamorphosis. His works ask how we may reposition ourselves to recognize societal issues such as global warming, racism and gun violence, come together on a global scale, instigate change and—ultimately—heal.

Shahzia Sikander | graduate hooding speaker
Pioneering Pakistani American artist Shahzia Sikander MFA 95 PT/PR is widely celebrated for expanding and subverting pre-modern and classical Central and South-Asian miniature painting traditions and launching the form known today as neo-miniature. By bringing the non-western art-historical visual vernacular into dialogue with contemporary international art practices, Sikander’s multivalent work examines colonial archives to readdress orientalist narratives in western art history. Interrogating ideas of language, trade, empire and migration through imperial and feminist perspectives, Sikander’s paintings, video animations, mosaics and sculpture explore gender roles and sexuality, cultural identity, racial narratives and colonial and postcolonial histories. Her innovative work led to US survey exhibitions at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art and, most recently, the RISD Museum. She has also presented her work in solo exhibitions around the world, including MAXXI Museo Rome, the Asia Society Hong Kong, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Sikander’s work can be found in the permanent collections of many prestigious institutions, and she has won numerous awards, grants and fellowships, including a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the National Medal of Arts. She is a member of RISD’s Board of Trustees and lives and works in New York City. 

Brian Selznick| class of 2020 speaker
Brian Selznick
88 IL is the author and illustrator of many books for children, including The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a Caldecott medal winner and the basis for Martin Scorcese’s Oscar-winning film Hugo. His other books include Wonderstruck, for which he wrote the screenplay for director Todd Haynes’ film adaptation, and his latest, Kaleidoscope. Selznick has illustrated several other books, worked professionally as a puppeteer and written for the stage, including an updated version of The Nutcracker performed at the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago.

About Rhode Island School of Design
RISD’s mission, through its college and museum, is to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, to discover and transmit knowledge and to make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation. The college’s strategic plan NEXT: RISD 2020–2027 sets an ambitious vision for educating students for the future and bringing creative practices to bear on the creation of just societies, a sustainable planet and new ways of making and knowing. RISD’s immersive model of art and design education, which emphasizes critical making through studio-based learning and robust study in the liberal arts, prepares students to intervene in the critical challenges of our time. Working with exceptional faculty and in extraordinary specialized facilities, 2,500 students from 68 countries engage in 44 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. RISD’s 31,000 alumni worldwide testify to the impact of this model of education, exemplifying the vital role artists and designers play in today’s society. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region.