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The Mortarboard: Canvas for Self-Expression

A mortarboard collage.

Measuring just over nine inches square, the graduation cap—also known as a mortarboard—has for decades been used as a miniature canvas for self-expression.

Often, they’re simple: hand-lettered, masking-tape missives comprising Greek letters, inside jokes, or call-outs to friends and family.

They can be provocative—in the form of political statements, philosophical musings, even wry commentary on the cost of a college education.

The most artistic and/or ambitious grads create elaborate, three-dimensional sculptures that defy gravity atop the wearer’s cranium.

See the full gallery of mortarboard art on Cornellians