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Something from Nothing

Sandra Gross-Hutton
Posted: May 13, 2013 - 8:01:36 PM in commentary_2013

The following is a commencement address by Sandra Gross-Hutton delivered May 12, 2013 to graduates of the School of Creative Arts at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Sandra is a sculptor and owner/founder of the Brazee School of Glass in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Good morning and thank you so much for having me here today. I am honored to speak to you at this important juncture of your life.

We are all creatives here. We are asked to create things on a daily basis. Sometimes we are given guidelines or parameters for these assignments but many times we are asked to take something that appears to be nothing to most (a stretched canvas, a ball of wax, a blank screen, a pile of old wood, ( in my case, some old windows) and make something out of it. But sometimes, we are asked to create Something without any prompts. We can do that. That is our gift. But how do we do that? How do we take this apparent nothingness and make it something?

I have a seven-year-old daughter and in the mornings on the way to school, she asks me some of the most amazing questions.Some of which I know the answer, some of which I have never known the answer and some the answer has changed in the 37 years since I have been 7. So we have started reading these books at night about these seemingly unanswerable questions. The chapters start with a question like “do trees talk? Or“why do animals that fly have feathers and bats do not?” and then experts in that particular field answer the questions. One night, not long after I started working on this topic to share with you, the chapter “if the universe started from nothing, how did it become something?” came up. What a great question. We have read it many times now and she has politely suggested I take the book to my room if I want to read that same question over again.

So again Nothing to Something. Well, I will tell you what the book said. It talks about the Big Bang Theory and that gravity is the attractive force pulling it all together. And it says that a popular theory out now is that the Big Bang was the collapse of a previous universe or universes and that this new universe is a recycling of previous universes. How millennial? So again, re-purposing an old object to become a new piece. Hmmm. I think that might have been an assignment of mine once upon a time.

I look at all of you and think about my days at Miami 25 years ago, I am reminded of my own experiences here that created my universe - the good ones, bad ones, painful ones and joyful ones. I am reminded of my family that supported me while I was here, took me to dinners uptown, made sure I had curtains in my windows. I cherish my good friends and my professors who I still look to this very day for inspiration and strength.

As you go out into this next chapter of your life, some of you will be facing a something and some of you will be facing a nothing. Some of you will have a job or graduate school that will ask you to take the nothing and turn it into the something. So when you are faced with the blank paper, ball of wax, broken glass, or the apparent nothingness, remember the forces inside of you, your universes, that have formed your unique vision and voice. You all have that. That is your gift.

And now as we celebrate this special moment, I encourage you to pause and think about the people and experiences that you have had here at Miami that have contributed to your universe.

Embrace them and your gift as to always seeing the something in the nothing.