Visual Storyteller David Macaulay to Deliver Watkins Commencement Address
‘Way Things Work’ author/illustrator will also receive honorary doctorate at May 18 ceremonies
Visual storyteller David Macaulay, known around the world for the detailed drawings, superb design and sly humor in elaborate show-and-tell books such as The Way Things Work and The Way We Work, will deliver the commencement address to the 2013 graduating class of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film on Saturday, May 18. Macaulay will also receive the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Fine Arts from Watkins during ceremonies at the Downtown Presbyterian Church beginning at 2 p.m.
“David Macaulay has an uncanny ability to illustrate and write in an innovative way that explains complex things to all of us—simply, metaphorically and with a great deal of fun,” said Ellen L. Meyer, president of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. “His insights will certainly benefit graduating seniors as they pursue their professions and provide encouragement to all who strive to use their artistic talents in unique ways.”
Previous recipients of the honorary degree from Watkins include the late interior designer Albert Hadley (2010) and cultural policy expert Bill Ivey (2012).
Macaulay’s revealing and entertaining illustrated books have been embraced by readers of all ages, selling more than three million copies in the United States alone and translated into a dozen languages. Much of his work demystifies and deconstructs the human race’s great architectural and engineering accomplishments, beginning with Cathedral (1973) and continuing with City, Castle, Pyramid, Mill, Underground, Unbuilding and Mosque. He is perhaps best known for the international bestseller The Way Things Work (1988), a seminal book in the field of illustrated-educational books which spawned a PBS television series and the 1998 update The New Way Things Work. Macaulay brought his extraordinary ability to explain complicated systems to the most intricate machine of all, the human body, in The Way We Work (2008). He has also created several lighthearted picture books, including Why the Chicken Crossed the Road, Shortcut and Rome Antics (about a pigeon-led tour of the Eternal City).
Among his numerous honors are a “genius grant” MacArthur Fellowship (2006), the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities (1995), presented by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Bradford Washburn Award (1993) from the Museum of Science in Boston. His books have been recognized with a Caldecott Medal (Black and White), Caldecott Honor (Cathedral), Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor (The Way We Work), Christopher Award, American Institute of Architects Medal and Washington Post-Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award. In 2007, his work was the subject of a retrospective, The Art of Drawing Architecture, at the National Building Museum.
He founded David Macaulay Studio, an imprint of Roaring Brook Publishers, in 2009 to produce books that explain things. An alumnus of the Rhode Island School of Design (BA, Architecture) and “occasional faculty member” at RISD, he lives in Norwich, Vermont.
Watkins’ 2013 Commencement is open to the public. After a welcome from President Meyer, Mr. Macaulay will receive the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Fine Arts, and then deliver the Commencement address. Following his remarks, Vice President for Academic Affairs Joy McKenzie will present the 53 BFA, BA and Certificate candidates in film, fine art, graphic design, interior design and photography, and Samuel E. Stumpf, Jr., chair of the Watkins Board of Trustees, will confer the degrees and certificates.
The historic Downtown Presbyterian Church, a national landmark noted for its Egyptian Revival motif, is located at 154 5th Avenue North (corner of 5th and Church).