You are here

Otis College of Art and Design Honors Socially-Engaged Artists; Rick Lowe and Masami Teraoka to Receive Honorary Degrees

Please contact John Axtell for inquiries, 310-665-6857 or

Recipient of the MacArthur Genius award Rick Lowe and influential Japanese artist Masami Teraoka will receive honorary doctorates at the Class of 2016 Commencement ceremony.
Students at 2015 Otis College Commencement

LOS ANGELES, CA - Otis College of Art and Design will award honorary doctorates to Rick Lowe, visionary social-practice artist, and Otis alumnus Masami Teraoka (’68 MFA), internationally recognized artist and human rights advocate, at the 2016 Commencement ceremony May 15, 2016. 

Honorary Degree recipients are selected for their substantial contribution to their field and for embodying the College’s values and mission. Both Teraoka and Lowe exemplify the transformational and critical role the arts play in our society and offer lifework to which the students graduating this May can aspire.

Lowe, who will be serving as commencement speaker, originally trained as a painter in Houston, where his focus on the urgent social, economic, and cultural needs laid the groundwork for his pioneering socially-engaged art. In the early 1990s, with a group of fellow artists, he combined art, empowerment, and community organizing to buy and restore 22 derelict houses in a predominantly African-American section of Houston.  Entitled Project Row Houses, the visionary architectural preservation project earned Lowe a MacArthur Fellowship or “Genius Grant” in 2014. Lowe’s work has been exhibited at prestigious venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, and the Venice Architecture Biennale. 

Teraoka is a renowned artist and human rights advocate who’s work explores difficult subject matters through fantasy, humor, history, and wry observations on present-day life. In the 1970s, he became recognized for his distinctive, modern versions of Ukiyo-e prints imbued with personal commentary, taking on issues such as the clash of Eastern and Western cultures.  More recently, his work has addressed social and political controversies through large-scale narrative paintings that combine elements of the Japanese woodblock print with inspiration from Renaissance church art. Teraoka earned his MFA at Otis College of Art and Design in 1968.  He has had over 70 solo exhibitions around the world, including exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

“It is a privilege to recognize these courageous and visionary artists,’ says President Bruce W. Ferguson. “Rick Lowe has empowered communities to use new forms of art-making in response to social challenges and Masami Teraoka employs his stunning artwork to confront larger global issues. The role of the artist in society has been transformed and expanded by these two leaders and Otis is honored to acknowledge their groundbreaking achievements.”

Sharon Kellermann, a senior in the Product Design program, is the valedictorian for the Class of 2016 and will give the valedictory address. Kellermann was chosen for her consistently stellar academic performance, she has been on the Dean’s List each term throughout her studies, and the exceptional quality of her product concepts exceptional quality of her work, which has focused on facilitating communication and translating complex ideas into captivating product concepts for everyday use. During her time at Otis, Kellermann interned at Williams-Sonoma in San Francisco and Nickey Kehoe in Los Angeles.

In conjunction with Commencement, Otis College of Art and Design’s Annual Exhibition, May 14–15, will be open to the public, and showcases work by members of the Class of 2016. For more information on the Annual Exhibition visit



Sunday, May 15, 2016, 3PM 
Westchester Park (across from the main campus) 
7000 W. Manchester Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90045



Established in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of visual and applied arts, media, and design. Core programs in liberal arts, business practices, and community-driven projects support the College’s mission to prepare diverse students to enrich our world through their creativity, skill, and vision. As Los Angeles’ first professional art school, visionary alumni and faculty include MacArthur and Guggenheim grant recipients, Oscar awardees, and design stars at Apple, Anthropologie, Pixar, Mattel, and more. The renowned Creative Action program has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for Community Engagement, and the Otis Report on the Creative Economy is a powerful advocacy tool for creative industries. The College serves the Greater Los Angeles Area through compelling public programming, as well as year-round Continuing Education courses for all ages. More information is available at