April 26, 2018

Robotics pioneer David Hanson, artist Cai Guo-Qiang and photographer Annie Leibovitz are being recognized at RISD's Commencement

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Cai Guo-Qiang, Annie Leibovitz and David Hanson. Courtesy of the artists.

Hanson will deliver the Commencement keynote address and accept alumni award for artistic achievement, photographer Annie Leibovitz + artist Cai Guo-Qiang will accept honorary degrees

On Saturday, June 2 Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will award degrees to 463 undergraduate and 208 graduate students at its 135th Commencement ceremony. Commencement 2018 will take place at 10:30am at the Rhode Island Convention Center in downtown Providence, where the annual RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition will also be on view.

This year RISD will present two honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees to visionaries in contemporary culture. Hanson Robotics founder and RISD alumnus David Hanson (RISD ’96 Film/Animation/Video) will be honored with the 2018 Alumni Award for Artistic Achievement and will also deliver the Commencement keynote address. Photographer Annie Leibovitz and artist Cai Guo-Qiang will accept honorary degrees at the ceremony.

RISD’s joyous Commencement ceremony offers a festive culmination to years of creative exploration in the studio. Students traditionally transform their caps and gowns in idiosyncratic ways—by painting, reimagining and embellishing them to make a more personal artistic statement or simply to have fun with this colorful RISD tradition. For more information on RISD’s 2018 Commencement and to view the ceremony streaming live on June 2, visit

On Friday, June 1 social entrepreneur and community organizer Risë Wilson will speak at the Graduate hooding ceremony as part of Commencement celebrations.

A series of exhibitions leading up to Commencement will highlight new work produced by graduating students, including the Senior Invitational Exhibition at Woods-Gerry Gallery, the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition at the RI Convention Center, a selection of graduate student works at Sol Koffler Gallery and the Senior Film/Animation/Video Festival at the RISD Auditorium. A student-curated exhibition of undergraduate and graduate student work will also be on view at the Gelman Student Exhibitions Gallery in the Chace Center.

About Rhode Island School of Design
Known as the leading college of art and design in the United States, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is ranked #1 in Business Insider’s survey of The World’s 25 Best Design Schools. Approximately 2,450 students from around the world are enrolled in full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in a choice of 19 majors. Students value RISD’s accomplished faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its hands-on approach to studio-based learning. Required courses in the liberal arts enrich the studio experience, equipping graduates to make meaningful contributions to their communities. Through their creative thinking and problem solving in a broad range of fields, RISD’s 26,000 alumni exemplify the vital role artists and designers play in fueling global innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit and

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