Dream Forward

(clockwise, top left) Images submitted by William “Buzz” Padgett, Meenakshi Jha, Andrew Malick, James Morgan, and Lakesha Moore.

Posted by Sam Fox School May 8, 2020


Knowing what an irrevocable impact the COVID-19 has had on the Class of 2020's final semester at WashU, the Sam Fox School Advancement team wanted to do something special to acknowledge their creativity, courage, and innovation. They've launched a new website, dreamforward.wustl.edu, that features messages, stories, and images of inspiration and encouragement from over 140 alumni.

"You may have heard a view expressed many times since your early days here that, as a graduate of the Sam Fox School, you are a member of a national network and global community of creative alumni in architecture, art, and design," said Carmon Colangelo, the Ralph J. Nagel Dean. "When our alumni heard that the Class of 2020 would not have the same end-of-year experiences that have been part of our WashU community for decades, they responded in force to share their personal stories and words of encouragement."

A small sampling of message excerpts are featured below. It's not too late for alumni to add a message of support. New submissions will be accepted through May 31 and added to the site periodically.

"It was a very different time when I graduated in 1965, and it's hard to imagine what you are going through now, but I want to encourage you to keep on creating. Creating has uplifted me in so many ways and given me the inspiration to keep going. I remember times when I’d come home from my 9 to 5 job exhausted and would pick up my brush and get a whole new life. So don’t let the current situation get you down. Pick up that brush or chisel or brayer or whatever you use and get renewed. We’ll all get through this together and art will contribute to that in a big way." —Nancy Baker, BFA65 (Illustration)

"It’s such a bummer not to be able to finish your last semester on the amazing WashU campus this spring. It’s a great loss, and I grieve for you, with you. Know, however, how lucky you are to be an artist. Being an artist and enjoying that will provide great solace your whole life. As you know from school projects, there is no one right solution. Most important is that you be yourself, use what you have, both inside and beside you, to make something that solves the problem, that approaches pleasing you. If it fails to do what you need it to, change it to make it better. That’s what an artist does."—Yvette Drury Dubinsky, MFA90

"Architecture is a profession that can be practiced well into your 80s and beyond. We were taught to believe that tomorrow would be better than today. So think of the coronavirus as a terrifying epic storm that, although seemingly bleak and hopeless, can build character, making you a stronger, more caring, and thoughtful person. That was my experience when my architectural career was interrupted after graduation, and I was drafted into the army to serve two years in the Korean War. The architecture curriculum is fraught with creative and physical challenges. If you made it to graduation, you probably have what it takes to be an architect. It’s a long journey, but one you will never regret taking."—Alan Goldberg, BA54 (Architecture)

"Hunter S. Thompson once said, 'when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.' There's no doubt that the going is getting weird...but think about how you are prepared for the challenges ahead! Spatial thinking, holistic problem solving, and envisioning a compelling future—these are core skills and practices that you have and the world needs. Normative practices of design will continue to shift in response to global health and climate challenges, and you are well positioned to be right in the middle of it all. Stick with it and think of this all as a 'difficult site' that demands ingenious design thinking."—John Kleinschmidt, BA08 (Architecture)

"You are the future. That makes you very important to me, and to the world that will soon become yours to shape with your ideas, your talent, and your persistence. And the world will shape you, too. You are starting out in unique circumstances, and I greatly regret that you will not have a graduation celebration nor the fortune of a robust job market. No one would blame you for being a bit discouraged. But I predict that transcending discouragement will become one of your generations’ superpowers. I believe that you will tackle creative challenges with greater determination and energy than we preceding generations. Perhaps most importantly, your creativity will be fueled by a higher sense of empathy for the challenges of others. I consider this last trait to be critical in any designer. Stay close and encourage each other. If I can offer advice, reach out to me: linkedin.com/in/mike-konzen."—Mike Konzen, MArch86

"One lesson I have learned in this crisis is artists have a unique ability to transform darkness into light. We are trained to use our creativity to see the world in a different way that opens up possibility. Though I don’t believe anyone needs to prove how productive they can be in this strange time, approaching each day’s limitations with creativity can be transformative. I have been able to make new work from home, with a more spontaneous spirit, enjoying the discovery of simple beauty. I hope you can find new reserves of strength, resolve, and innovation for this season and beyond. Let the art we make, and the fact that we make it, be a protest against despair and a sign of resilience and hope in the world."—Kim Morsky, BFA10 (Printmaking)

"I hope you’re well and staying healthy and safe during this pandemic. You all have been faced with a task that is daunting but is made for artists. You’re scrappy, you’re creative, you can make things. Your craziest, most surreal ideas now fit perfectly with the times. You have the chance to build a “DIY” semester—a post-apocalyptic Mad-Max kind of art school experience for yourselves. How can you build your own sort of utopia of friends and confidantes that lasts far longer than mid-June? I still meet once a year for “Reunion” with a group of friends from WashU’s School of Art and their partners. Do it! Plan a date to reunite with your friends each year after you graduate. How can you utilize your ingenuity to make the most of this very odd time? Adventure Playgrounds took off in England when mothers and kids turned bombed out buildings in WWI into playgrounds. How can we use calamity to create human connection? You got this, you’re an artist."—Erik Peterson, BFA04 (Sculpture)

"Keep dreaming and keep making—you are creative problem-solvers, and you will change our world! As you enter the workforce, your first job may not be what you planned, but make the most of it. Each job will prepare you for the next one. Make time to create and connect. You never know where it may lead you. I’ve run into WashU alumni everywhere, whether on vacation and at the Y. We’re here to support you, we’re proud of you, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do next!"—Erin Qu, BA08 (Architecture)