The Art Academy of Cincinnati has announced Hanif Abdurraqib – internationally acclaimed poet, essayist and cultural critic – as commencement speaker for its 2021 graduation ceremony.
Recently featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, Abdurraqib will champion the class of 2021 to realize their creative impact. His first collection of essays “They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us,” was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and named book of the year by BuzzFeed, NPR and Oprah Magazine, among others.
Art Academy senior Amyia Carroll referenced his work in her recent capstone project, commenting on how one line in his book of essays stayed with her: “The truth is, if we don’t write our own stories, there is someone else waiting to do it for us. And those people, waiting with their pens, often don’t look like we do and don’t have our best interests in mind.” Through this line, she said, “I discovered my role as a designer was not only crucial to who I am today, but why I chose to become a creative. His work made me think about using our voices to tell our own stories, and as an artist, how can I be responsible for making sure that, if I’m telling someone else’s story, I’m doing it authentically.”
Valedictorian Nytaya Babbitt will also address the graduates. She will receive a BFA in illustration and was recently named SummerFair Cincinnati’s Emerging Young Artist, beating out twenty finalists from local colleges.
The ceremony will take place Sunday, May 16 in Ault Park. Not open to the public.