After graduation, where have you been?
In an unexpected way, this generation of youths has stood at the forefront of epochal transformation. The graduation season has arrived again. This summer which is completely different from previous ones, has ushered in an unprecedented online commencement ceremony for the CAFA class of 2020. Hasty online exhibitions and thesis defenses, severe employment situation, delayed to-do items for graduation, the barriers and impact brought by the pandemic, all of these have made the common group photos of graduates and farewell dinners become something extravagant. For graduates, too many emotional upsets and regrets has diluted the originally busy graduation season into some kind of dispensable symbol. The graduation season is like a gate from the ivory tower to society, it opens a channel to the crowded world, we will eventually become lost in the sea of faces.
CAFA 2020 “Online” Commencement Ceremony (Image Courtesy of CAFA Official Website)
A Screenshot of the Lecture “New Waves” by bilibili
After graduation: What exactly do we bring into the world?
After graduation: what exactly do we bring into the world? Is it the professional knowledge we have learned from the academy, the sadness when our youth is gone or the anxiety when confronted with the future? Whatever it is, everyone is inevitably moving towards his or her ordinary or great state. Perhaps as Mao Buyi has sung, “In Time we’ll see how you grow/ We’ll see your dreams, coming true/ Life will bring the answers, /And show you who you’re meant to be,” no matter in which way you have been involved in the world, you will just become more clear on how you have been portrayed by life.
CAFA 2020 “Online” Commencement Ceremony (Image Courtesy of CAFA Official Website)
CAFA 2019 Commencement Ceremony (Image Courtesy of CAFA Official Website)
After graduation: From Candidates to Graduates from Art Schools
From art candidates to graduates from art schools, you have learned how to perceive the world in an artistic way. If you are fortunate enough to use artistic ways to construct your future life, you may become an artist, designer, curator, educator…There’s a quotation from the documentary “THE POWER OF ART,” the essence of art is pain. An artist is someone who is good at obtaining detachment from pain as he can heal himself or others in his expressions. We the living, hope everyone will optimistically face the bitterness and joy of life.
A Screenshot of “Quality Employment Report on 2019 Graduates from CAFA
It can be seen from the “Quality Employment Report on 2019 Graduates from CAFA”, self-employment and freelance employment have become the choice for nearly half of the graduates from CAFA. Freedom has become a prerequisite for art students to be integrated into society. The data in the report indicated that, employment is not the most urgent thinking for art students. Perhaps survival is not hard to obtain in this era but art will remain to be one’s own complex.
Online Viewing Room of 2020 CAFA Thesis Presentations
Central Academy of Fine Arts awarded the “Commemorative Medals for Excellent Graduation Works” for Class of 2020. (Image Courtesy of CAFA Official Website)
“The river of time flows into the ocean, and we will finally separate from each other and we won’t stay forever at any port.” With songs about graduation, we will eventually walk to the next intersection. Hopefully everyone of you at the moment will understand the significance, emotion and experience of these songs. Graduates from CAFA in 2019 provided their replies for us.
Time will give us answers.
I will always remind myself that my “ideal” will never die.
The biggest experience is “the suffering of all beings.”
Making good work, it will bring you what you deserve.
Liu Jia: Before graduation, I devoted almost all my time to the graduation creation. I enjoyed the process so much that I did not spend more energy on finding a job. At that time, I was still in a particularly ideal state and I thought it would be a waste of time to visit recruiting websites. Future study should also be the natural result after a period of preparation and accumulation. When you leave the campus, no matter how reluctant, it means you have to start a new stage of life. I don’t want to be bound by 996. I have been a freelance artist for half a year. I have used my professional skills to do several jobs of different nature. Some of them have a huge intensity and some have less intensity. The process of living alone in Beijing, was very tiring, anxious and sometimes I was at a loss. I have experienced each state before and I feel lonely, free and hopeful, which is worth recalling. The sudden pandemic interrupted my original plan to continue my freelance career. I decided to go back to my hometown in Hubei and found a college job in Wuhan. I always wanted to find a balance between my career and life. I might be one step closer to it. I will always remind myself that my “ideal” will never die.
Operating Desk of Liu Jia
Life Record of Liu Jia
After graduation, I have met people with more diversified backgrounds and I have seen various landscapes, my biggest experience is “the suffering of all beings.” But the pandemic made me feel the power of “love.” Love keeps life up and enables me to fight against the wind and rain. Some people may think it is chicken soup or hypocritical, but this is what I wrote in my notebook after all these. Most of the classmates I know no matter how flustered the outside world is, can calm down and concentrate on personal creation, because this is what everyone loves to do. Before graduation last year, my tutor, Professor Wang Chuan, also told me: “If you do a good job, it will bring you what you deserve.” I think all my experiences in the past six months have verified my mentor’s command, and I also want to send this sentence to this year’s graduates, if insisting on ideals, everything can be expected. Your contribution may be your gain, and it slowly guides you to find your own way.
Success depends on the power of suffering,
The ordinary life is also a beautiful poem.
Kexin: After graduation, I went to work in Nanjing. As a teacher, I was basically in a semi-teaching and semi-administrative working state; after leaving a familiar environment and my hometown, I was in a lonely state. In terms of learning and creation, I used to think more about the content. Now I will consider and solve how to study actively and regularly with plans and nodes as well as things around creations. I used to enjoy frames built by others, but now I try to build a frame by myself and later I hope to build frames for others.
Life Fragments of Kexin
The feelings before and after graduation are, first, all choices come at a price. The second is that the state before graduation I think is: I think and therefore I am. I thought about a lot of things every day and talked a lot with my teachers friends and then I do a few simple things. Basically, it was a state of being free; after the graduation to the present state, I sum up as: I think, I lose. After graduation, many things are too late to think about. Most of the things that I have been driven to happen, do, or have done actively or passively formed what I am, not thinking, the completely free state of thinking and doing, which is unreachable. The second is to encourage yourself, to dare to deny yourself yesterday and to continually let go of the existing and try new things. The gain is the loss, the loss is the gain.
The Operating Platform of Kexin
I just graduated a year early, and I have nothing to say to the younger students who are also adults. My son just celebrated his 3rd birthday a few days ago, I will put the words written to him here, I hope it is not very inappropriate, haha: I do not want you to become an ordinary person, I hope you are an excellent one or even a great one, but I hope that your excellence and greatness are full of positive energy, if you can, with less and less suffering, although I know that there is great energy in suffering. But if our success still depends on the power of suffering, then the ordinary life is also a beautiful poem. Happy graduation!
Creations by Ke Xin after the Graduation
First to immerse ourselves in the favorite field to make something,
and we will finally get what I want in the future.
It is impossible to reap the rewards without effort.
Sun Yong: I stepped into the university in 2009 and graduated with a master’s degree in 2019. Looking back on those school days, I was always indulgent at university, painting, and studying every day so casually, as if I could always be a student. But after stepping into society, I realized my weakness and incompetence. Born in an ordinary family, I took a master’s diploma and find nowhere to step forward to. I am not the only one in such a dilemma. It seems everyone is hesitant and confused. Don’t think of yourself as a person whose life prospects are dark and stagnant because of a little stress and uncertainty. First to immerse ourselves in the favorite field to make something and we will finally get what I want in the future. It is impossible to reap the rewards without effort. What I can do is to plan for the future and keep drawing, reading, studying and making a life schedule. Keeping exercising and controlling my health is the priority. What is also significant is to manage time. I am trying to do some calligraphy and painting repairs and I will research the Ming Dynasty scholar Wang Shizhen and the famous Gardens in Jiangnan in the late Ming Dynasty. Graduation means a new start of learning. What I can do is to keep to perseverance, progress, and contentment.
Daily Life of Sun Yong
Recent Creations and Repainted Works by Sun Yong
The most obvious sign is my rising weight.
The most frustrating thing is to move the studio.
The state of my creation has become less hasty than the original.
Ye Jiang: I experienced one year as a volunteer teacher during my BA and two years of studying abroad supported by the government during my postgraduate period. After graduation, more than once, my work and life have become regular. The most obvious sign is my rising weight. The most frustrating thing is to move the studio. In recent years, I have to move every year. The state of my creation has become less hasty than the original, and I will give myself more time to think and sort out things. The change in my life circle has also allowed me to develop some new hobbies and habits. More than half a year after my graduation, the pandemic broke out. The limitations of physical space caused by the pandemic made me discover many things worth learning about in daily life. I gradually learn not to be too attached to studio life.
Ye Jiang’s Studio
Doing things practically, everything will be good.
Please be confident and always know what you want.
Cong Junfeng: In the year after graduation, I made short-term plans, such as preparing for the postgraduate entrance examination and taking an internship in the company, but the internship was an industry that has nothing to do with art. Due to the pandemic situation, the copper plate of my undergraduate research was difficult to achieve as I cannot go back to the studio at school. In this case, I also did some work at home, such as going to a company to help with some difficult work. Art comes from life. I want to communicate with different people and at the same time get feedback and attitudes about different lives. This should be beneficial to my future creations.
Recent Works by Cong Junfeng
I have also done a lot of art pieces and because of the pandemic, it is especially precious to go out and sketch and I painted some landscapes. After I graduated, I did not have too much connection with society due to the preparation for the postgraduate entrance examination, so I did not have many reflections on the surroundings. But what I learned during the four-year study in CAFA is a very simple truth: doing things practically, everything will be good. At this complicated juncture, I hope that this year’s graduates can set their own short-term goals. Tomorrow or next month, we can find something to be devoted to. The graduates of CAFA are the best. Please be confident and always know what you want.
Looking back at my graduation creation now, I feel that there are some problems and deficiencies.
Only by constantly updating your knowledge structure can you keep up with the current problems in your creation.
Chen Pengfei: After I graduated, I continued to study as a postgraduate in the direction of the image and symbolic language at the School of Experimental Art of CAFA. My supervisor is Professor Wu Jian’an. Because I am still a student and have not actually entered society, I feel that there is not much difference from the previous undergraduate level in terms of the pace of work and study. The research topics I planned for myself at the postgraduate level also developed from my undergraduate thesis. The teachers also know some of my undergraduate creations, so they can give me many specific suggestions at this stage. As the School of Experimental Art has high requirements for students’ research ability at the undergraduate stage, after entering the postgraduate stage, I feel that there is no particularly big change. All aspects of research, creation, and life are continuously moving forward.
Chen Pengfei introduced his theis presentation to media
The greatest life feeling after graduation should be that we still have lots more to work on. The undergraduate study is just bedding down. In fact, no matter whether you go to the postgraduate level, learning is a lifelong process. There are still many books that need to be read. Only by constantly updating your knowledge structure can you keep up with the current problems in your creation. Looking back at my graduation creation now, I feel that there are some problems and deficiencies. The biggest impression after graduation should be to appreciate CAFA. Because I have been in CAFA since high school, numerous precious memories were imprinted in my mind. What I want to say to graduates this year is to read more and see more. Combining learning with practice and never stop working.
We will not stay in the moment of parting forever. Graduation is just the beginning of our own initiative. When discussing the issues of life, the experience and suggestions of others cannot really help us, only when we step into society will we know how our life should stretch forward.
Text by Lin Lu, translated and edited by Sue and Emily/CAFA ART INFO
Photo Courtesy of Artists
Cover Image Courtesy of Zhang Chen, School of Design, it is a screenshot from “Animal Emancipation.”