Tama Art University

Commencement message to graduates

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Farewell Address from the President

Igarashi Takenobu

President, Tama Art University

I would like to congratulate this year’s 990 graduates from the Bachelor’s Degree Program, the 144 graduates from the Master’s Degree Program and the 5 graduates from the Doctoral Degree Program. I also wish to offer my sincere congratulations to the parents and guardians who supported the studies and creative efforts of these students up to this day. I heavily regret that we could not hold a graduation ceremony, which all of us had been so looking forward to, so that we could do our part to keep the novel coronavirus from spreading. Instead, I offer this written message of congratulations as President of the university while envisioning all of you leaving our campus behind on a Spring day, armed with youthful hope.

As our current situation no doubt illustrates, the real world has no shortage of difficult, unforeseen situations that will manifest themselves. The purpose of studying in a university is to outfit oneself with knowledge and skills that will form foundation in the discipline that one seeks to be active in. However, there are no guarantees of being able to walk down that future path according to plan. Alongside cultivating your unconstrained ability to play an active role powered by individual ambition, the ideology of “freedom and will” at this university should serve as a spiritual foundation for resiliently coping when things are characterized more by hurdles rather than by smooth sailing and for getting through those times by applying flexible thinking.

In recent times, the necessity of globalism is popularly cited. Japanese society has, to an extent, developed in an isolationist fashion. That means that this nation must assume a more global viewpoint. Certainly, that applies to art universities as much as it applies to all of you who will be making your way out into the world from today. Realistically speaking, however, what does it mean to be global? What does it mean to be steeped in global standards? An easy answer to those questions is to adopt English as a common language. Indeed, over the years, the international common language has been increasingly unified into English. We must cope well with that trend. At the same time, the point of view that globalism simply consists of converting language to English or, to use a non-language example, unifying cultural standards runs counter to the original idea of what globalism should be, in my eyes.

Rather, I would say that true globalism should be a line of thought of proactively accepting cultural, regional, ethnic or religious diversity. In that sense, wouldn’t you say that the discipline of art that we have chosen to pursue serves as a model of globalism that leans on diversity? The visual and plastic arts language undoubtedly make cross-border communication possible. On top of that, those languages are also deeply rooted in the historical and climate-based identity of their respective region.

As you make your way out into the world, I hope you will retain this language that contains the possibilities of globalism in its truest sense. The flip side of unified globalism might very well be rough waters assaulted by a vortex of exclusive fundamentalism. Nevertheless, I hope you will set out on your voyage to fulfill your individual dreams with a flexible mentality and the kind of resilience that characterizes graduates of our institution. While our inability to hold a proper graduation ceremony to mark this occasion is based on circumstances beyond our control, it is nonetheless truly unfortunate. However, let it be known that I have great expectations for the success you will all have going forward.

Congratulatory Address from the Chairman of Board of Directors

Igarashi Takenobu

AOYAGI Masanori
Chairman of Board of Directors, Tama Art University

Let me begin by stressing how unfortunate it is that we were unable to hold a proper graduation ceremony together with our graduates, involved parties, and university faculty and staff due to the need to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus as much as possible. Equally unfortunate is the fact that we had no choice but to cancel many of our graduate work exhibitions, which constitute presentations of student accomplishments at our university. Having spent the four-year period bookending your 20th birthday at Tama Art University, the period in your long life when you have the greatest ability to absorb things, or an even longer time for some of you, you will embark on life as a working member of society or on new production and research endeavors having learned a great many things and established your sensibilities here. However, I imagine that you feel considerable disappointment at that fact that you have not been granted a graduation ceremony as a chance to take another look back on the path you traversed up to now and on your plans from here on out. Still, while you may not be marking this occasion with a ceremony, I hope that you will picture in your head the graduation ceremony that you imagined today would be, and etch this considerable milestone in your life onto your memory.

As symbolized by the recent coronavirus, modern society is without a doubt “an era of VUCA,” with “VUCA” standing for “Volatility,” “Uncertainty,” “Complexity” and “Ambiguity.” In this era of VUCA, rather than passively respond to the environment that surrounds us as we have up to this point, we are instead required to have the ability to apply our ideas and proactivity towards improving that very environment itself and even creating a new one. At Tama Art University, since the time of your enrollment, learning and thinking together about bringing forth new things and solutions through art and design and thinking with autonomy have been of the essence. Additionally, over time, you have experienced the importance of the act of creating new things, both physical and abstract, while engaging in mutual cooperation.

As the current spreading of the coronavirus has made clear to us, it is becoming far more difficult for us to predict the future of the planet we live on than at any other point in our history. The warming of the earth’s climate is throwing the fish and fruit that we can catch and harvest during a particular season into disarray. We have come to the point where can no longer ignore the increase in CO2 emissions, the most significant cause of global warming. Yet, even when approaching the problem on a global level, mankind has yet to come up with an effective method of dealing with the problem. In other words, we are gradually losing our ability to control our imminent reality. Furthermore, the increasing devastation caused by weather phenomena all over the globe is becoming more prominent. You, who will graduate from Tama Art University in these times that we live in, have tempered your ability to apply art and design towards improving the very environment that surrounds you using your ideas and proactivity and even create a new environment. I have every reason to believe that each one of you will contribute to society and go on to lead satisfying lives. It is with that sentiment that I leave you with the heartfelt words “Congratulations on your graduation.”

Congratulatory Address from aIT Representative

Igarashi Takenobu

Chairman, alumni association of Tama Art University (aIT)

To all of you who will be granted bachelor’s degrees and master’s degree in Fine Arts, congratulations on your graduation.
To the parents and guardians of students as well, it gives me great joy that you are able to mark this significant milestone in the long student lives of those graduates as they as they embark on this new start in their lives.
Allow me to offer you these words of congratulations on behalf of the alumni association of Tama Art University.

It is regrettable that our new graduates leave Tama Art University in this way and set out into the world impacted by the global spread of the novel coronavirus, which no one anticipated even just a few months ago.
I can also picture university personnel going through similar distress having been forced to make such a decision given the priority consideration that they accord to health and safety. We can only pray that the virus comes to an end as quickly as possible.
I cannot help but think that the spreading of this virus, which WHO has labeled as a pandemic, is proof of just how closely interconnected the world is and how wide of an area the connections between people are spread out over. That will be the world awaiting those of you are graduating from Tama Art University this Spring.
Dramatic leaps in IT technology have made it possible to facilitate exchange between countries and people at a speed that was unheard of one generation ago. The extent of the resulting impact is also evident in the increasing commonality of international cooperation not only in the steerage of economic development, but also in the disciplines of the arts and sciences. At the same time, as such diversity has become more prevalent, there has been no shortage of situations where people have brought the identity of their own country to the forefront to advocate it and conflict has intensified due to intolerant attitudes. While the same can be said about environmental issues as well, it seems to me that we are approaching an era in which we have to earnestly identify how all of us can live in happiness, not just how individuals can live rich lives, and take action accordingly.
An unknown world, one that goes beyond what you could have imagined, is what likely awaits you as you take your next steps towards the future. As AI and IoT technology evolves further from here on out, it is predicted that in the not-so-distant future, the time will come when machines perform tasks that humans have performed up to this point, only with greater speed and precision. We may even be able to close in on the mysteries of space and life themselves. Amid such developments, I believe that we will be forced to reevaluate the meaning and worth of human life.

Perhaps your pursuits, learnings and takeaways over your four years at Tama Art University and the time you spent in its graduate program will point you in the direction of finding such answers that the future world will want to know.
Even if the resulting presentation is based on one’s desired orientation and shape and ends up differing from person to person, the process of “creation” is in your blood. You have all made things while collectively puzzling over them, asking questions, and sharing the common denominator of being students of Tama Art University. This should assist you in taking steps towards tomorrow.
Like you from this day onward, your predecessors at Tama Art University have used what they have learned from the university as a foundation in their day-to-day efforts to confront the challenges of people and society head-on and make contributions while seeking out answers that they can be satisfied with. I eagerly hope that you, too, feed on what you have learned at the university up to this point as you proceed to blaze forth new trails.
Starting tomorrow, your alma mater Tama Art University will no longer be a place where you spend your life. However, that in itself is the new “meaning” that you learned at the university taking flight. As you throw the subjects of your study onto a canvas and work towards giving shape to them, without a doubt, that “meaning” will attain new depth, and you will proceed to give that “meaning” a new face. I am sure that “meaning” is nothing less than your future possibilities, whatever they may be, as dictated by what you seek in your way of life from this point forward.

At the same time, you will have one point of contact with Tama Art University that will continue into the future as well. That is the alumni association of Tama Art University, or aIT.
At present, there are over 42,000 Tama Art University alumni. One means used by aIT to connect those members is a newsletter bearing our name that we publish every year. I encourage you all to read it, as it is available on aIT’s website. The newsletter introduces the various activities conducted by aIT, an example of which are the “branch activities” carried out by our 26 aIT branches across Japan. Those branch activities are varied in nature and include exhibitions. Alumni who live in an area without a branch can join nearby branches or branches that they have a strong affiliation with. These branches will provide you with a bond with Tama Art University after you graduate. Each of them eagerly awaits you to join as fellow alumni.
The various activities implemented by aIT also include aid efforts for students on scholarship and group exhibitions, charity exhibitions and onsite art classes. Recently, through the activities of the “Yonbidai Alumni” federation made up of four private art universities in Tokyo, we have established October 2 as “Art Enjoyment Day” and are engaged in activities to widely spread and educate society on the significance of modeling, art, design and other elements.
As you graduate, you will become official members of aIT as well. We hope for the opportunity to assist you in your future activities. Our sincere wish at aIT as your point of contact with Tama Art University from here on out is that you also do your part to proactively relay information from your own end, take part in aIT activities, and otherwise lend us your cooperation.

In closing, I would like to express my respect anew for Tama Art University Chairman of Board of Directors AOYANAGI, President TATEHATA and everyone else who guided me along the way. To the new graduates and their parents and guardians, once again, aIT offers you its sincere congratulations.

Update: Mar 31, 2020