Celebrate. That’s something that’s hard to do in the day and age of coronavirus. I looked forward to celebrating my graduation from SCAD for such a long time, not only for myself but for the people who helped me get here. Many times, this felt like an unattainable moment because of my decade-long struggles with chronic illness. I found it quite comical that I wouldn’t be celebrating in a normal fashion because of a virus, since a virus is what caused all of my problems in the first place. Every part of my “graduation” felt like a hilarious, sick joke, but that seems to be the trend for 2020. Everyone did their best to make the class of 2020 feel special and recognize our accomplishments, but something felt missing because we weren’t celebrating together.
I wore a pretty dress with slippers underneath, because no one was going to see my feet on the tiny computer screen. My family and I listened to the names being announced from our living room couch in Louisiana, with our silly goldendoodle laying across us. And just like that, it was all over. We weren’t sweating under our cap and gowns and our makeup wasn’t melting off under the hot auditorium lights. There was no sitting in traffic on the bridge, as everyone made a mad dash to their dinner arrangements. There were no celebratory hugs with the girls who you spent the last four years in the studio with.
So, I decided to make us a cake. It was as much of a celebration as it was a coping mechanism for me. The hours of repetitively gluing beads and making faux icing allowed me to process my emotions. This glistening and gaudy cake commemorates the tragedy and humor of our virtual graduation. It celebrates our accomplishments and our abilities to problem solve when being locked out of our studios and disconnected from our physical community. It’s a personal celebration and a collective one. It’s a reflection on isolation and glimpse of optimism towards the future. Most of all, it’s a permanent reminder of our successes and perseverance.
Photography by Kendra Frankle