by Emily Putnam
On January 12, 2013, the first group of IDSVA graduates collected their well-deserved degrees in a momentous commencement ceremony. As a student of the second admitted cohort, I first met Amy, Chris, Evelyn, Michael, and Nil at Spannocchia in the summer of 2008. Back then, I remember feeling a great deal of uncertainty and excitement about what this program was going to entail. None of us knew what to expect, but it was soon made apparent, however, that as we were venturing into this scholarly wilderness as artist-philosophers, at least we could do it as comrades in arms—forging this path together.
As with all of the IDSVA residencies, our times together were short and intense, involving a rapid and intimate bonding in the classroom, at the dinner table, and in Parisian cafes and museums. I quickly came to treasure the knowledge, creativity, experience, and support these five have to offer. Once the residency ended, our friendships continued to grow as they became the academic older siblings who taught me that it was possible to make it through every step of a PhD program from the first independent study presentation to the oral exams, surviving the dissertation process, and eventually facing the defense.
As I enter the last months of my time at IDSVA, I am grateful to have these five go before me, knowing that as the school’s first class, they did not have the benefit of being able to watch someone lead the way. For this reason, I honor their accomplishments even more, and I am thankful that they were willing to take this leap so others may follow in their wake.
I cannot express the excitement and pride I experienced when I first saw them in their caps and gowns. Honestly, it was a bit surreal. What once was an occasion so far off on the distant horizon was actually coming to pass, and I was honored to be there in celebration of their accomplishments. As I think back to the hills of Tuscany where we first became acquainted, I can truly appreciate how far we have come. Just as I watched them go before me every other step of the way, witnessing them walk across the stage at the Morgan Library & Museum, I experienced a great sense of excitement and relief knowing that they were able to make it through what at times can seem like a daunting and terrifying journey, and soon I will be there as well.
To IDSVA’s first graduating class—congratulations and thank you.