A Tyler tradition: “Diploma Project” is an annual special gift for graduating art and architecture students
The Class of 2021 gift was made by distinguished Tyler alumna Angela Washko and features a digital intergenerational conversation and time capsule to document an unprecedented year.
Every year during the Tyler School of Art and Architecture’s Commencement ceremony, the school presents its graduating students with a special class gift: A unique work of art made by one of Tyler’s renowned alumni. It’s a tradition that connects two generations of bold thinkers and makers.
For the Class of 2021, feminist media artist Angela Washko, TYL ’09, in collaboration with Tyler students, created Always On—a digital, social practice performance that took place in Habbo, a popular pixel-art based, multiuser virtual environment and community.
“It has been a very meaningful experience reconnecting with Tyler and creating a new artwork in dialogue with students,” said Washko. “I see this performance as an intergenerational conversation and time capsule documenting a year like none other—and I hope it will give students a moment to reflect critically on how digital culture has changed during this crisis, how they might incorporate intentionality into their relationship with media, and what other alternatives they may help manifest as artists.”
This digital environment, custom-designed by Washko to feel emblematic of the utopian idealism of the early web, set the stage for eight students across Tyler to discuss how their social experiences, art practices and relationship to technology have changed as a result of a year spent in the global pandemic.
The recorded Habbo performance explores the fragmentation and collapse between digital and physical, public and private, and work and not work that has occurred during this remote year.