The Grad Expectations 2021: The Art of Breaking Through

01 June 2021

Exhibition: 11 June 2021 (Fri) - 20 June 2021 (Sun)

Virtual Opening: 10 June 2021 (Thurs), 7pm

  • Opening Speeches by Student Representatives:
    • Sarmiento Cyril Dominic Bambico (Diploma in Screen Media)
    • Ng Shi Hui Sarah (Diploma in Design, Furniture and Spatial)
  • Congratulatory Messages by:
    • President, Mrs Tan-Soh Wai Lan
    • Dean, School of Art & Design, Ms Sabrina Long
    • Vice Dean (Fine Art), Ms Sabrina Koh
    • Vice Dean (3D Design), Mr Fadzli Jamil
    • Vice Dean (Design & Media), Ms Christabel Teng
    • Vice Dean (Fashion Studies), Mr Anthony Tan
    • Vice Dean (Acad), Ms Marienne Yang
  • Awards Presentation including:
    • NAFA Fine Art Graduation Awards 2020, supported by Woon Brothers Foundation
    • 3DD Live Collaboration with NTUC Club Presentation Award
    • 3DD Live Collaboration with Le Caine Gem Jewellery Award
    • Design and Media Most Promising Creative Award
    • SOAD Best Studentship Awards
  • NAFA Virtual Fashion Show
  • Closing Congratulatory Videos


Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) is proud to present The Grad Expectations 2021, a graduation exhibition presented in both online and physical formats, to be held from 11 to 20 June 2021. The annual showcase features over 700 works created by around 650 graduating School of Art & Design (SOAD) Diploma and Degree students. “Generation Pandemic” graduands from SOAD’s Fine Art, 3D Design, Design & Media, and Fashion Studies Programmes have displayed resilience and innovation, breaking through and overcoming challenges unique to these times. They embody essential traits demanded by a world pivoting towards creative problem-solvers and a resolute workforce capable of driving future economies.

A virtual opening will celebrate the event, giving global audience worldwide access to the exceptional works by our graduating students, some of which tell the stories of their journeys to the finishing point. NAFA’s university partners, University of Central Lancashire and University of East London, will be sharing messages as this graduating cohort marks the closing of their degree partnership. Viewers will also be treated to a first-look at the fashion show, comprising unique pieces from the Fashion Studies students.

Key works from The Grad Expectations 2021 include State of Mind by Lee Yi Xuan (Fine Art), who shines a light on the link between art therapy and mental health through the acts of drawing circles and scribbling; Lean by Ng Shi Hui Sarah (3D Design), a furniture piece that mimics habitual postures to provide practical comfort and use; 白菊舍 (White Space) by Eunice Heng (Design & Media), an emotionally and personally driven design concept surrounding funerals that helps to ease the grieving process; as well as BUNGLON by Marianne Priscilla (Fashion Studies), a collection inspired by Panther Chameleons, that challenges wearers' habits and pushes them to be dress differently every day.

In the lead-up to the opening, SOAD will release a one-off podcast episode centered around six students, where they share more about their craft, completing their final-year projects and the challenges they had to overcome. The podcast shines a light on the students’ learning journeys amid a pandemic and their defining moments, giving audiences a rare glimpse of their thoughts and emotions. Aside from honouring the students’ voices, the podcast aims to inspire listeners in surmounting their own obstacles. Parallel to the exhibition, The Grad Expectations will also publish a stream of videos showcasing student life and artworks, along with work-in-progress footage from the graduating batch. Aside from depicting the experiences of the graduating cohort, these activations serve to capture how the graduates have a grasp of post-pandemic circumstances, by making sense and improvising with sound and effective solutions. In addition, the audience will be able to take home practical and compelling learning points on navigating the current unpredictable and delicate global climate.

Ms Sabrina Long, Dean of SOAD, highlighted the importance of adapting to a changing world to stay relevant and true to our creative ambitions. She said, “Since the pandemic hit us, our world has evolved rapidly, affecting every industry. As a premier, progressive, and leading arts institution, our NAFA family understood the importance of being proactive in adopting new methods and perspectives to approach their respective craft and roles. They have displayed a spirit of creativity and resilience, evolving and being ever ready to remain relevant and employable in their disciplines.”

“The Grad Expectations provides a platform for our deserving students to present their creative talents. It reaches out to a wider audience, bringing greater accessibility to their works. More importantly, it also underscores the academy’s robust approach to nurture a pipeline of future-ready changemakers, producing dynamic, adept and efficacious leaders,” she added.

Held since 2015, the combined SOAD graduation showcase provides a comprehensive platform for the visual arts and design students of NAFA to present their final year projects to the industry and public. This year, it will be combining its physical exhibits with an online approach due to pandemic-related limitations. NAFA invites you to immerse in the graduands works, and witness how their diverse portfolios demonstrate versatility while promising limitless possibilities for future economies.

Best of Best Show (8 to 18 July 2021)
The Best of Best Show 2021 is an exhibition that distills and features some of the finest works by graduating School of Art & Design students. The exhibition’s curatorial framework focuses on the diversity and versatility of the cohort’s final-year projects — to flex and evolve, both in real-time and in the long-run. In this collection of ideas, thoughts, and strategies, we explore how these emerging art practitioners and creatives can play a role in making the world a better and more meaningful place.

ANNEX 1 – The Grad Expectations 2021 Publicity Image
ANNEX 2 – The Grad Expectations 2021 Background Information
ANNEX 3 – Key Works from The Grad Expectations 2021
ANNEX 4 – The Grad Expectations 2021 Official Opening Schedule
ANNEX 5 – About Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts