On Saturday, May 18, 2019, artist Chelsea Klukas will address Watkins College of Art’s class of 2019. The ceremony will take place beneath the tent on Watkins’s campus, beside its Art Walk.
Klukas is an interdisciplinary artist focused on technology, as well as a product design manager. Passionate about building creative processes and design culture in data-driven environments, she is the co-founder of MakeFashion, a wearable technology startup that operates at the intersection of creativity and technology, bringing high-tech fashion to the runway. MakeFashion uses technology-enabled apparel as a mechanism for self-expression and storytelling, and has created more than 100 wearable tech projects that have been showcased across the world, including in New York, Shenzhen, and Rome. Her “Lumen Couture” projector hat—a hat that includes real-time projection mapping and visual inputs to display video on a dress (pictured above)—has gained international attention as the first of its kind.
In addition to her artwork, Klukas is currently a product design manager at Facebook. Prior to Facebook, Klukas led design teams for innovation projects at Amazon. In her role as a product design manager, she brings creativity, empathy, and design process to products on the cutting edge of virtual and augmented reality, voice interfaces, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
“I am excited to speak at the 2019 Watkins Commencement, and to address the next generation of creative leaders,” says Klukas. “The role of artists, designers, and storytellers is increasingly important in driving the growth and implementation of technology in a way that is meaningful to how we connect with each other and experience the world at a human level.”
Klukas will speak to more than 40 emerging artists at this year’s Commencement. These students will receive degrees in one of Watkins’s seven disciplines: art, film, fine art, graphic design, illustration, interior design, and photography. Those graduating will also include artists who have pursued masters of fine arts degrees in film.
“We are so pleased that Chelsea will address our graduates,” says Watkins President J. Kline. “She, in a real way, represents the ascendency of the creative class, which regularly incorporates beautiful aesthetic and practical design thinking into its work. An art school alumna herself, Chelsea’s career demonstrates the significance of visual artists in our rapidly evolving society. She is an innovator in the marriage of art, design, and technology, and a wonderful role model for our students.”
Established in 1885, the mission of Watkins College of Art is to challenge individuals to develop their talent, refine their creative practice, and dedicate their lives to advancing culture through the illuminating power of art. The college boasts a high employment average of students who, upon graduating, work within the creative economy and their chosen profession (87 percent).
Indeed, throughout its 133 years, Watkins has been a pioneer in connecting individuals to their highest potential. Begun by Samuel Watkins with the goal of teaching the “business of life,” the college has mobilized to meet the needs of an ever-changing population, particularly those who may have struggled to gain their footholds, such as immigrants in the early 20th century, women as they joined the workforce in the 1930s and 40s, and servicemen upon their return from World War II.
Over the past three years, Watkins—which offers a 73,000-square-foot artmaking facility; cutting-edge silo studios, film soundstages, and multidisciplinary spaces; as well as modern residential apartments, all within America’s “It” City—has undertaken an ambitious and award-winning effort to reimagine its reputation as one of the finest arts conservatories in the country.