Before coming to the Haliburton School of Art + Design, Taylor Ray Luecke was unsure whether she wanted to commit to school. Now she is Valedictorian at Fleming’s Haliburton Campus convocation, where she is graduating from the Integrated Design diploma program and Digital Image Design certificate program.
“I never thought I would get this far in my education, never mind be the Valedictorian!” said Taylor. “I am so honoured and proud to speak at convocation. I believe in what our school does and I believe in the students here. We are going to change the world with art and design, I guarantee it.”
Taylor applied to Fleming College’s Integrated Design program years after graduating from high school, having spent the time in between travelling and immersing herself in art. Taylor worked on commissions and branding projects, designed menu boards and displays at the Pastry Peddler Café (where she worked); and in 2016 she designed clothing, created zines and jewellery, and helped with window displays for the art collective Lizard Gang Records.
“After being out of high school for some time, I applied to some college programs still unsure if I wanted to commit to school or not,” said Taylor. “I went to the Open House and got whisked away by the students there. They took me into their world and gave me an Open House unlike any other.”
Taylor attended the Spring Open House event at the Haliburton School of Art + Design and was captivated by the stunning campus.
“Once I entered those doors, I knew I was somewhere special. I met the most wonderful people in my visit and got to talk to some students about what they do, and I knew I didn’t have to look any further,” said Taylor. “Integrated Design helped me channel my skills and interests into something unique, something with potential. The experience gave me so many great opportunities with incredible teachers, inspiring students and an endless opportunity to just be myself and create from the soul.”
In the Integrated Design program, Taylor discovered her interest in relational aesthetics and installation work, enjoyed thinking of concepts and the wildest ways to communicate them, and chose the Digital Image Design certificate within her program to explore new ways of making.
During her third semester, Taylor worked on campus as a Studio Assistant, helping with community projects such as embroidering sashes for Rotary Club, making decals and signs for the school, and making posters for the Youth Hub. She also committed herself to the Student Association events, including yoga nights, bowling nights, life drawing, and Halloween in April.
“The atmosphere of the school was always supportive for me, a place where all ideas and walks of life are welcome. I could dance through the halls and people would dance with me,” said Taylor. “I got to live with my friends and enjoy Friday night pool at the Legion and living room dance parties. My favourite part is the people I have met and the friends that I’ve made. My experience wouldn’t be the same without all of the positive influences around me. Though the time together is short, I have made lifelong friends here.”
In her valedictorian speech, Taylor plans to recognize the journey of the artist and the brave direction that being an artist is. “I want to let all the graduates know how powerful they are with their work,” she said. “Our school is something different and the speech should reflect that.”
After convocation, Taylor will spend the summer working at Algonquin Park and plans to move to Australia in the late fall, taking on freelance projects and continuing to learn. She would like to do artist residencies to push her knowledge, as well as apply for design competitions and exhibitions.
“My path is not direct, but it brings me excitement in thinking of its possibilities.”