I attended the graduation commencement of the College of Idaho’s Class of 2011 on Saturday. I got to congratulate some friends and listen to the speech of Internationally Acclaimed artist Matthew Barney. Barney was chosen to give the commencement address and was also the recipient of an honorary degree from the college.
Barney spoke about our connections to nature with metaphors about the wandering ways of coyotes (our mascot!) and honeybees. He spoke of the importance of adaptability and how important it can be to get lost now and then. He even discussed Joseph Beuys performance piece, I Like America and America Likes Me. He made connections to humiliation and failure and how they can lead to growth. But his central idea seemed to tie all these in to remembering our roots and utilizing our toolbox of experiences. Barney spoke very thoughtfully and articulately, with a soft-spoken voice. His words were often deep and methodical, but he also threw in some humor with amusing stories from his childhood. His speech was quite long, and afterwards the college conferred upon him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
Photos courtesy of the College of Idaho’s Facebook page