Philadelphia, PA (April 27, 2022)—Moore College of Art & Design ("Moore") today announced that scholar, writer and activist Dr. Salamishah Tillet will be the keynote speaker for its 174th Commencement and receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts degree. The ceremony honoring Moore’s Class of 2023 is set for Saturday, May 13, 2023 at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center.
Tillet has spent her entire career at the intersection of art, activism and academic research, and championing racial justice and gender equality. She is the Henry Rutgers Professor of Creative Writing and Africana Studies at Rutgers University – Newark and the executive director of Express Newark, a center for socially engaged art and design. She is also a contributing critic-at-large for the New York Times (2015 to present).
With her sister, Scheherazade Tillet, she founded A Long Walk Home, an arts organization that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women. In the midst of the racial reckoning of 2020, she and Scheherazade came together with our nation’s foremost Black feminist activists to found the Black Girl Freedom Fund, a 10-year initiative to raise $1 billion dollars in support of Black girls and Black gender-expansive youth. She is also the founder of New Arts Justice, an initiative for feminist approaches to public art in the City of Newark.
"Salamishah Tillet's contributions to socially engaged art practices, coupled with her work to support women and historically underrepresented populations, make her an inspiring honoree for Moore's graduates, who are actively engaged and interested in a variety of social issues and who will undoubtedly go out and change the world," said Cathy Young, president of Moore College of Art & Design. "I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Tillet to Moore for my first Commencement as president of the College and I look forward to the address she’ll deliver to our talented and dynamic graduating students, in the presence of their families and friends."
Tillet was awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism for her "work that successfully bridges academic and nonacademic critical discourse" and "learned and stylish writing about Black stories in art and popular culture," particularly new works that responded to the Black Lives Matter moment. In 2021, she was named the Andrew Carnegie Fellow by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for her next project, In Lieu of the Law: 'Me Too' and the Politics of Justice, a cultural history of “Me Too” as the world’s largest social media movement. She is currently co-curating (with Dr. Paul Farber of Monument Lab) “Beyond Granite: Pulling Together,” the first public art exhibit on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
“As a critic, curator, and scholar who has long been influenced by Moore’s brillant faculty and students, I am deeply moved by this honor,” said Tillet. “More importantly, I truly believe that at this moment in history, when so much is at stake for our country and our planet, that we need to listen to the voices and pay heed to the vision of artists now more than ever before.”
She continued, “Being able to watch this next generation of artists and dreamers be recognized for their work is a treasure all on its own.”
Tillet earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and African American Studies and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania (1996); Master of Arts in Teaching in English from Brown University (1997) and Master of Art in English (2002) and a PhD in American Studies from Harvard University (2007).
Moore will confer degrees to over 110 undergraduate and graduate students during the May 13 Commencement ceremony for programs including animation & game arts, art education, art history, fashion design, fine arts, graphic design, illustration, interior design, photography, socially engaged art and more. Additional details about Moore's 174th Commencement ceremony are available here.
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