Opened by Dennis Young

I am very happy to be asked to open this uniquely interesting exhibition -- partly because as a former teacher of art history I am acquainted with most of the alumni whose work is here, but especially because it is an exhibition that pays tribute to something very difficult to define: something that might be called the “soul” of the college—which does not lie in curriculum committees or “negotiated settlements,” but in that communion where faculty and students meet in mutual respect and mutual appreciation. In short, what we see in this exhibition are tokens of the success of the NSCAD enterprise.

I stress “respect and mutual appreciation” because these accolades are often hard won—especially in an age which has been made soggy with “false personalization,” an age where, for instance, anonymous phone callers, without the slightest interest in our health, ask us how we are. We can be sure that what is represented here betokens sterner stuff than that.

Recognizing the names of many former students, my guess is that, for every one who still follows the art, craft or design practice by which they are represented here, there is another who has made the transition to some other sector of the visual arts: I meet them as curators, administrators, editors, critics, teachers, business leaders, and even art historians.

Whatever they are doing now, however, their legacy, seen here and like so much shown in this gallery over the years, contains marvels of skill, ingenuity, wit and imagination—and if there is one thing to regret tonight it is that the artists themselves will in many cases not only not see the show, but not truly know how much their work has been cherished over the years.

In respect to this “cherishing” I am reminded of Leibniz (amazing how often one is reminded of Leibniz!) who, in the 1690s, struggling to define what art was, declared that you could at least say that it was something whose destruction would leave you desolated, even if it were owned by someone else—and I believe (in spite of the post-modernist alarm bells that will go off at the suggestion), that tonight, as ever, we stand among such works.

It remains for me to commend the organizer, Professor Manos, for her inspired idea, and for the work that she and the gallery staff have put into mounting the exhibition—and to repeat that it gives me great pleasure to declare the exhibition open.