David LaChapelle's 2015 UNCSA High School commencement speech May 16, 2015



University of North Carolina School of the Arts
46th Annual Commencement
May 16, 2015

Turn off the noise so you can hear your artistic voice. That was the advice David offered the high school graduates of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA).

LaChapelle, an alumnus of UNCSA's high school Visual Arts Program, spoke at the 48th annual commencement celebration on May 16 at the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem.

"Call it God, call it creative energy. It goes by many names, but whatever you call it, it's in you," LaChapelle said. "How do you find it? Be by yourself. Turn off social media, your twitters and grindrs and whatever else you all are looking at. You have to turn it off and be alone and be quite."

Every one of you has a different path, and you have to follow your dream and forge your own path," he said. "How do you know what's right? By listening to your inner voice."

"Sometime doors are going to be closed. How do you know when to keep banging on that door and when to walk down the hall and find another door? Give yourself the space," he said. "Get away from the noise of the world and find that solitude so you can hear your voice."

"Sometimes doors are going to be closed. How do you know when to keep banging on that door and when to walk down the hall and find another door? Give yourself the space," he said. "Get away from the noise of the world and find that solitude so you can hear your voice.

LaChapelle told the graduates not to worry about what they will get from being artists. "Remember it's not about what you're going to get, but what you are going to give. What are you going to say to the world?"

He said no matter what the future holds for graduates, their UNCSA education will serve them well. "Even if you don't go into the arts, you are going to apply everything you learned here at the School of the Arts. None of it is wasted," he said.

"Whatever you do, go be great. Shine some light on this world of confusion," he urged.

"Art is important. It saves lives. It changes lives. It changed mine," LaChapelle said. "Imagine what the world would be like without art. It would be hell.

We need art to make the world a better place."