The global community of Sotheby’s Institute alumni continues to grow with the latest addition to this network- graduates from New York, London, and Los Angeles. Throughout the past few weeks, the three Sotheby’s Institute of Art campuses awarded Master’s degrees to students in ten MA departments. Across the three commencement ceremonies, a number of speakers, faculty, and art-world professionals reflected on why it’s important to be stewards of our culture, presented career advice, and reflected on why a Sotheby’s Institute education is unique.
Amy Tai, one of the student speakers at the London graduation, gave context for this celebratory occasion with a quote from Nietzsche, “If art is the highest form of human expression, then the function of art is one of affirming and enhancing life.”
Sybil Johnson, a graduate of the American Fine and Decorative Art program in New York, said “One of the most valuable gifts we have been given by our time here is not what we have learned but how we have learned it.” She followed this by encouraging her class to explore after graduation, stating “It is our responsibility to learn more, experience more, cultivate our curiosity, and tell as many stories as we possibly can.”
Qiong “Voyo” Wu, a Contemporary Art graduate, echoed Johnson’s words by noting, “The real challenge in life is building a resume not of what you want to do but who you want to be, not of what titles you will wear but why you do it.”
Ashley Veselis, who graduated from the Art Business program, asked her peers to reflect on their time at Sotheby’s Institute, “Now that the classes are over, many of us are at yet again another crossroads… wherever you are please take a moment to congratulate yourself. We’ve all moved beyond those first days and progress, no matter how small, means you have succeeded.”
Christy MacLear, Sotheby’s Institute New York commencement speaker and Vice Chairman at Sotheby’s Art Industry Partners, offered graduates a reminder: “You come from all parts of the globe and you will leave to populate nearly every corner of our art world. You have only started to understand that this industry is small and that the many connections you have made will cycle through your life many times over. Be generous, be open, and consider that you are at the entry point of your career pathway.”
MacLear also left the graduates with a letter she wrote to her younger self, providing inspiration and guidance to the young art professionals. Her four pieces of advice were framed from the perspective of wisdom, time, and experience.
Find a mentor and always stay in touch
Be in the art world but not of it- know that narrow self-definition leads to a narrow view
Focus on the importance of community and bring what you have learned from other communities back to your own
Remember your center whether it be personal or in your career.
MacLear concluded this letter with a final piece of guidance: “Make bold choices. Those are the ones I hold most dearly now.”
And Christine Kuan, CEO and Director of Sotheby’s Institute of Art--New York, weighed in with a sense of mission: “Our society undervalues art and art is endangered… it is our responsibility as art professionals to assert art’s value not only in the marketplace but also in our culture.”