SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15
COWAN ART CENTER
Thank you President Mabry, Provost Osburn, Dean White, Faculty, Family, Friends and graduates.
Once while serving as a visiting artist , Another artist and I were to deliver gallery lectures. He was introduced first, and the
the moderator described him with every positive attribute that one might wish for…… influential in his field, historically significant, even went so far as referring to him as a genius. !
And, I must admit, his was an impressive lecture….Then when it came time for my introduction, the moderator said…
This is James Pace….he’s from Texas.
Now…. I never have determined whether that meant that anyone from Texas naturally possessed all those attributes, or quite something else altogether.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the introduction.
It is distinct honor to address you on this auspicious occasion.
The opportunity to speak to you on the evening of your graduation carries so much potential….
Commencement speeches can be a lot of things…They can be inspirational, encouraging you to go out and change the world for the better
or like they can be more like a lockerroom speech by a coach whose team needs encouragement. ………
.Those kind of speeches are thrilling at times,………. but ultimately,… make me feel like I need get out of my seat and perform some astounding athletic feat.
So, I’ll try to stay calm.
There are the speeches that take a personal tact, revealing how the speaker overcame mountains of diversity and only through his dedication and brilliance has he arrived at such a place in his career that would merit delivering a commencement address.
This doesn’t’ really fit either ….for I’ve been a fortunate son.
There are speakers who use the podium to forward Political viewpoints, challenging the status quo, or to provide a formula for change, or simply try to create controversy
I’ll try to stay out of trouble.
Sometimes speakers string together as many clichés as will fit into the allotted timeframe…….which can be really funny, especially if they make no sense.
This may be closer to home.
This evening, I could take any of those approaches…. but I would rather try something else.
It strikes me that we might consider contextualizing your experience here at the University of Texas at Tyler, and talk of ways in which you may see your education as a the beginning of a pursuit
A pursuit which utilizes your education as on ongoing effort to achieve something over a long period …..your lifetime
A pursuit that continues to expand it’s field of play, In effect changing the paradigm in which we interpret, problem solve, consider, and create
Å pursuit that thrives on new information, but which goes beyond simply the acquisition of information, and develops the ability To discover the knowledge and the wisdom that is waiting for you.
A pursuit that breeds enthusiasm., so that you will never need to ask the question of how to pursue…..you will simply pursue.
How is it that we can clarify the idea of our education being a growing, dynamic, ever expanding chase? What are elements are required, that not only promote expansion of consideration,,,,,,, but demand it.
Your professors have opened the door to you,
We have given you the formulas, the methodologies, We have explored the historical precedents, practiced the behaviors and provided you with the means by which you can study, interpret, invent and ultimately come to understand anything you put your minds to.
You have worked many years, many long nights, probably even shed a few tears toward this goal., You.ve spent a King’s ransom and maybe because of this your parents have shed tears too. …… But… it will have been worth it.
All the specific knowledge to which you’ve been exposed, All the information that you’ve studied, all the practiced methodologies, techniques and concepts for which you have been held accountable, are the architecture of knowledge, the canon of education.
But there is more that is required. Something that only you can provide.
The eagerness to know more
The excessive interest in a subject or issue that demands attention.
The compulsion to explore
The characteristic that provides the motivation,
and the spark that begins the chase.
So, how do we nurture our curiosity?
I believe, One must first define the context in which they find themselves, and recognize with an unflinching eye the best and the worst of it.
To understand, in it is within our abilities to create our own personal mythology. In other words to view our experiences, our training, our decisions as revealing the Shape of our lives.
Your history is fact that can be interpreted and will yield wisdom.
We simply have to inspect it. Respond to the complex, idiosyncratic combinations of events, influences, and cultural setting that make up your life.
And then Insert Curiosity
You can shift the paradigm, look at your life through different filters, from different points of view. Then you may know more about who you are, how your are perceived by peers, why you think the way you do, how you interface with the culture., and by doing so, in effect,……. plot your position on the axis of your times.
Next, we can consider how we make decisions
I’ve often thought that it was the path of decision-making that was the most revealing in a work of art. Not the overt subject or literal message, but the serpentine path that traces the history of one decision after another. Eventually, leading to the definition of completion…….
It is the Shape of the mind’s work.
Whether a work of art….or a work in your field of specialization…..or the work of your life
Every decision has a path that can be revealed…. And studied.
Inspect the path of your decision making process and consider if there is a better way A way that will give you more clarity, more access, more understanding.
And Insert Curiosity
Can we know anything until we consider it?
Can we invest in something until we embrace it ?
Can we begin to recognize that mistakes often lead to the greatest discoveries?
And thereby open our minds to new opportunities
Once we look at the shape of our lives,
Once we look at the shape of our mind’s work
Then, you will begin to know how to benefit from the experiences, and gain the power to direct your life
Then Curiosity will have a free reign, it will provide you with the energy, the desire and the drive to inspect deeper and further than ever before. You will have an understanding of who you are, where you come from, how you tend to make decisions, and be able to contextualize what you have already accomplished….this knowledge will act as a pivot.
A pivot that will give you the confidence and the clarity to stretch out , to try new approaches, to redefine the field of play, and to ultimately to discover new ways of thinking, new ways of problem solving, new ways of living
And curiosity will serve you
It is our hope that this education will serve you well in your specific careers, , but more importantly, We hope that this institution of higher learning has instilled in you a sense of responsibility to your fellow man, that you will use your talents, intellect, and humanity to make this country, indeed this planet, a better place.
And if you are curious, you can make it so.
We hope that you will recognize what education does best….. it shines light on oppression,….. it reveals inequities,…. it banishes ignorance,…. and it encourages tolerance.
And if you are curious, you can make it so.
Education offers to anyone willing to engage, a chance to discover the diversity of life, and the value of a life inspected.
I hope that you will find new ways of nurturing your enthusiasm, and that your curiosity forever multiplies.
Because it is curiosity that clears the path to discovery.
So, Now that you find yourself at what might seem like a dimly lit crossroads of graduation, I hope that you will
STRIKE THE MATCH OF CURIOSITY, AND ILLUMINATE THE PATH THAT WILL DEFINE YOUR PURSUIT
Congratulations, graduates of 2007.