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Artist and Alum Janet Taylor Pickett Selected as Speaker at the 2024 Stamps Commencement Celebration


For Janet Taylor Pickett, former Ann Arbor resident and University of Michigan alum, homecoming in 2024 is happening this spring. 

Taylor Pickett was selected among a field of distinguished individuals to be the Stamps Commencement Celebration speaker at the event on May 3, 2024, at Building 18 of the North Campus Research Complex.

“We are honored that Janet Taylor Pickett will be our commencement speaker this year,” said Dean Carlos Francisco Jackson. “Her experiences at the University of Michigan during a pivotal moment in its history, along with her many significant contributions as an artist and educator, has relevance for our students and graduating students.”

Taylor Pickett was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her family had lived for generations. She attended the University of Michigan, earning both her BA and MFA degrees from the institution. 

For her MFA Thesis, Taylor Pickett compiled hundreds of addresses and phone numbers of African-American artists around the United States. She wrote letters to all of them and featured the original letters of those who responded in her book that she entitled, Black Art: Reviewing its Roots.” The publication highlights the various contributions of African-American artists throughout history, an often marginalized perspective.

"It is an honor to be invited to be the speaker at The Stamps Commencement Celebration,” said Taylor Pickett. “This is a very special moment in my journey as a daughter, an artist, an educator, and a mother, a coming home of sorts where I spent my formative years—a full circle moment, from a wide-eyed first-year undergraduate art student to now.”

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After U‑M, Taylor Pickett studied Textile Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Graphic Design at the Parsons School of Design, and studied with Sam Gilliam as a fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. 

Taylor Pickett’s body of creative work is extensive and impressive. The mediums she uses include sculpture, installation, painting, assemblage, and collage, often reflecting her heritage and experiences as a Black woman. Her multimedia pieces are included in exhibitions and museums across the globe. Her work has been featured at the Oceanside Museum of Art, SUNY, Harvard Art Museum, and MoMA. At the Montclair Art Museum, she was one of the founders of The African American Cultural Committee, that has become an integral part of the museum. Her work has also been featured at the Philips Museum, Studio Museum of Harlem, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, including then Senator Kamala Harris, who displayed Taylor Pickett’s work in her congressional office in 2020. Janet Taylor Pickett is globally represented by the Jennifer Baahng Gallery in New York.

Taylor Pickett has spent much of her career in higher education. She taught as a Professor of Art at Essex County College for over 30 years and was an Adjunct Professor of Art at Bloomfield College and Montclair State University. 

The Stamps Commencement Celebration will take place on Friday, May 3, at 1:30 p.m. at Building 18 at the North Campus Research Complex. Following the ceremony will be viewings of the 2024 Stamps Senior Exhibition at the Art & Architecture Building and Commence: A Graduating Student Exhibition at the Stamps Gallery.