Jeremy Holien Gives Commencement Address at Minnesota State University Moorhead
January 14, 2021
Jeremy Holien, Education Specialist in Visual and Media Arts, was honored to be the commencement speaker for Minnesota State University Moorhead’s December ceremony for the Schools and Departments of Arts and Humanities. During his speech, he encouraged the graduates to “live in draft” and it resonated strongly with the audience. #LiveInDraft has been Holien’s motto for most of his career and that is exactly what 2020 forced us to do. “It modeled for us what was really important and taught us to hold things loosely. 2020 taught us to keep an openness to the world so that we don’t hold things so tightly that we can’t see a better version. It also taught us to not be self-limiting in what we think we can accomplish,” said Holien.
Holien selected the concept of “story” for the commencement speech due to the fact that all of the schools and departments in the audience focus on story, whether through visual arts, media arts, theater, music, arts industries, history, etc. “What do you want to be the focus of your story?” he asked. “Your life’s work? You may not know this on day one of your career, but it does reveal itself over time. We also begin to appreciate, during times like 2020, that your life’s work is not just your career. Perhaps you need to shift your focus or cause your eye to gaze in at a new part of the story you want to create and be remembered for. Perhaps you need to be more intentional about your own story that you are creating. What ideas do you need to envision, draft, prototype, and wrestle with that will bring value to the overall composition or story arc that you are shaping in your career or more generally in life? Perhaps we need to edit the life we were living and change it for a new draft that has the principles and values that 2020 taught us.”
He shared how the metaphor of a paint palette can be an illustration of lessons learned from this year. “We all can choose what we want to include on our palette. While a palette’s intent is to be a space to play with the appropriate mixtures of color that will give you your intended results, if that is not working, if there is something contaminating your palette/life…scrape it off! Get rid of it. Start over, but don’t give up! Other times, life throws some unexpected colors on your palette that you did not choose. You can also intentionally make the choice to use those colors and blend them into something beautiful. You can choose to persist with it, embrace it, and use it as a learning event to do even more incredible work ahead,” said Holien.
Reflecting on the experience, Jeremy shared, “I honestly can’t think of a higher honor, as an alumnus, than to be called back to inspire a new generation to artistic excellence and creative entrepreneurship by serving as the commencement speaker for this amazing institution. I knew that I was receiving an incredible foundation while a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead twenty-three years ago. However, I had no idea that this foundation would prepare me for the depth of experiences I have enjoyed as an educator of visual and media arts in the Northfield Public Schools, work around the state with Perpich Center for Arts Education, national leadership with the National Art Education Association, and finally fostering my international work with educator/artist teams in over twenty countries so far. I feel very honored, humbled, and grateful for the opportunity to share my story as well as to encourage others during these times!”
Jeremy Holien serves as the Perpich visual and media arts education outreach education specialist. He works in professional and curriculum development, state standards implementation and assessment practices. He is responsible for statewide initiatives in visual and media arts education. Holien has specific expertise in technology integration, visual and media arts education curriculum design, distance learning, standards-based education and assessment and arts integration.