Introducing the Class of 2021: PCA&D hosts Senior Send-Off ceremonies in the Art Garden

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Friday, May 7th, 2021

Pennsylvania College of Art & Design welcomed its new cohort of alumni Friday during in-person morning celebrations in the Art Garden and an afternoon online conferring of degrees.

Under a large white tent filling much of the Art Garden space, students and faculty gathered by major to mark an exceptional achievement: completing their final year of art and design school, working through senior thesis projects, and adapting to new academic routines, all while overcoming the extra challenges posed by a global pandemic.

“I am in awe of how far we have come together,” Dean of Students Jessica Edonick told the Class of 2021. “I am in awe of you.”

And Class of 2021 celebrations are not officially over. This class, along with the Class of 2020, will hold formal a Commencement ceremony on Oct. 15, at Clipper Stadium, as part of the College’s first-ever Homecoming Weekend.

President Michael Molla addresses students -- soon to be alumni -- at the May 7 Senior Send-Off in PCA&D's Art Garden.

President Michael Molla addresses students — soon to be alumni — at the May 7 Senior Send-Off in PCA&D’s Art Garden.


Friday, though, marked the official transition from students to alumni. Toasted by PCA&D President Michael Molla, they received the academic stoles they will wear at October’s Commencement, and heard from faculty, the Board of Trustees, and alumni from each major, both in person and virtually.

Alumni speakers included:

  • Chris Morris ’19, Digital Media (now Animation & Game Art), a 3D artist for virtual reality designers MajorMega;
  • Erik Espinosa ’14, Photography (now Photography & Video), a Baltimore-based photographer who focuses on product photography, and inventor of a device which enables photography of highly reflective items without a resulting reflection;
  • Trayton Pinson ’16, Photography (now Photography & Video), a Baltimore-based photographer and studio manager for Webstaurant Store, where he oversees production of photography and 3D scanning;
  • Graphic Design graduate Dyneisha Gross ’20, who works with integrated creative network Ogilvy in Washington, D.C.;
  • Fine Art alumna Jacquie Tull ’15, an artist, university instructor, and MakerSpace Manager at Swarthmore College;
  • and Abigail Bonnet Lowe ’17, Fine Art, who works at Titmouse studio in New York.

They joined Dean of Faculty Linda King Brown in praising the tenacity shown by the class in completing their junior year, and fulfilling their entire senior year, in the midst of a rapidly changing global environment.

“We could never have imagined the challenges you would face in your final year and a half at PCA&D,” said King Brown, speaking on behalf of the Board of Trustees. “But look at you now. I think at some point down the road, you will look back on this as a time when you proved to yourselves that you are incredibly, impressively resilient and driven. To keep being creative and producing in this time is an astounding feat, and it’s a testament to each and every one of you that you have made it through to celebrate this very moment.

“I think I can speak for all the faculty here or watching this ceremony virtually when I say that our greatest pride and joy is to see you grow and flourish as artists, designers, scholars, and human beings.” 

President Molla echoed that sentiment.

“The creative vision you now have developed from the foundation of your PCA&D education  and those subsequent choices, solutions, or work that you will embark upon, will have real impact,” Molla said. “The true beauty of your academic work was not just the classes. It was the faculty who taught them and the staff that nurtured your experience… In the very best traditions, (faculty members) pushed and prodded you. They engaged you. They challenged you.” And now is the time, Molla added, for the Class of 2021 to embark on a path of lifelong learning, to be “autonomous thinkers, discerning agents for good, and engaged citizens.”


Class of 2021 members received their stoles Friday for October's Commencement ceremonies.

Class of 2021 members received their stoles Friday for October’s Commencement ceremonies.

The Class of 2021 also unwrapped their academic stoles, symbols of their academic achievement designed by Tyler Le ’20, Illustration. White to represent simplicity in a time of change as well as the fresh start graduation represents, the stoles feature a design, in PCA&D blue, of a lantern that conveys lighting the way to a new beginning; a upward-looking eye to represent optimism, the unique qualities of butterflies, and the tip of a paintbrush as the lantern’s inner flame.

The Class of 2021 now joins nearly four decades of alumni from the school that began in 1982. That alumni membership, Provost Dr. Carissa Massey told the class, presents “an immediate, binding connection between people you may never have met — but through a shared, transformative experience at PCA&D, you are family.”


members of hte Class of 2021 tour the senior exhibition

Members of the Class of 2021 tour “Sincerely Yours”, the senior exhibition.


Friday also marked the opening of Sincerely Yours, The Resilient, The Perseverant, The Tenacious, The Tired, & The Determined, the Class of 2021 exhibition in the College’s Main Gallery. The PCA&D community was the first to tour the exhibition, before it opened for First Friday and Lancaster’s ArtWalk Weekend to the general public.

Sincerely Yours was co-curated by five members of the Class of 2021 under the guidance of Alana Coates, PCA&D Director of Exhibitions, Co-curators were Nicole Denzler, Photography & Video; Mandi Hall, Fine Art; Alexis Lebesco, Illustration; Regina Marie Mehaffey, Graphic Design; and Rachel Stork, Fine Art.

To reserved the required time tickets to tour Sincerely Yours in person, visit here.

To view the Class of 2021 digital thesis presentations, visit here.  

To view the Senior Exhibition online, visit here.                                                       

To view the Class of 2021 exhibition catalog for Sincerely Yours, designed by Kelly Phan ’22, Graphic Design, visit here

Top photo: Alumni speaker Chris Morris addresses Animation & Game Art and Graphic Design members of the Class of 2021. Photo courtesy Michelle Johnsen.