Boston University College of Fine Arts presents three students with prestigious Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Awards
Boston University College of Fine Arts is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Award: Alia Coleman, from the School of Visual Arts’ Graduate Sculpture program, Murat Çolak, a DMA candidate in Composition & Theory from the School of Music, and Desiré Graham from the School of Theatre’s undergraduate Theatre Arts program. The winners each received $12,000 grants to help them transition into artistic careers following their graduation later this month. The awards were presented by Deborah Kahn (SED’67) and Harvey Young, Dean of Boston University College of Fine Arts, on Friday, April 27, 2018 at 808 Gallery.
Alia Coleman plans to use the award money for a collaborative studio project in which she hopes to create a video piece(s) from start to finish with the collective efforts of young African and Caribbean students. Alia intends to provide the hands-on experience of new media to young black artists who have only had exposure working within the basic frame of drawing, painting and sculpture. She explains, “I will discuss my concepts, teach them specificities of lighting and camera techniques, and surrender control of the recording to them as I perform my narratives. I will then teach them video editing skills, culminating in a finished video piece.” Much of Alia’s work explores the idea of memory as a palimpsest through the frame of video work, so she hopes to pass along what she’s learned about the medium to the students. “I want them to experience new media beyond simply being my ‘studio assistants’ and plan to give them free reign in making their own video pieces, finishing the project with a screening and ‘gentle’ critique of each of their works.” Born in London, Alia is a current MFA candidate in the School of Visual Arts, and previously gained her BA, with Honours, in Fine Art and History of Art from the University of Reading in Berkshire, United Kingdom. She is an alumnus of the Roche Continents Conference (Salzburg, Austria) and received the UK-US Fulbright Scholarship
Murat Çolak plans to use the grant to fund his largest project yet, a futuristic multimedia opera called Virtuous City. As a Turkish composer and sound artist, much of his work is influenced by his ethnic and religious roots, along with the ongoing political discourse in today’s Islamic world. The opera will envision the state of the world in the 23rd century and will portray a utopian Islamic society in this time, looking closely at its governmental, economic, and social characteristics. Murat explains, “As an artist, I see my role to be claiming the space this amazingly rich and complex culture deserves within the global landscape of contemporary art music.” He views his work as “a response to the prejudices and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims carried by the rest of the world,” and hopes to contribute to the establishment of peaceful dialogue. Murat intends to premiere the opera in Berlin in Spring 2020, followed by a premiere in Istanbul, and will be working on the libretto and composition until then. He will also be performing in-depth research on performance techniques of historically Turkish instruments for use in this project. Murat is a current DMA candidate in Composition & Theory in the School of Music.
Desiré Graham plans to use the award to launch an experimental physical theater initiative that invites artists of colors to participate and establish a strong network and understanding of people of color in the world of physical theater. Upon graduation, Desiré will be staying in Boston for 15 months volunteering and traveling throughout the city in hopes of investigating its racial makeup, segregation, and presence of physical theater artists, all while continuing to physically train her body. Then in Summer 2019 she will participate in a two-week intensive program at The Workcenter in Pondera, Italy to further develop her craft. “Through this training I hope I can further my connections with people who are looking to dig deep in the practice of physical theatre. And hopefully meet people of color across the world,” Desiré says. Desiré will then move to western Massachusetts for three months to take part in the Fall Immersion at Double Edge Theatre. “This program will allow me to further refine my practice and stories I have accumulated over the past year in an isolated environment.” Through all these experiences, Desiré hopes to gain insight into the racial makeup of physical theater as well as become a better performer herself. Desiré is graduating from the School of Theatre this May with a BFA in Theatre Arts and a minor in African American studies.
The Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Award Fund was established in 1985 with an endowed contribution of $1 million from Esther Kahn (SED’55, Hon.’86). Each spring, students completing their last semester of graduate or undergraduate studies are eligible to compete for the award. Nine finalists presented to the Final Selection Committee, a panel of prominent arts leaders including Deborah Kahn (SED’67), Harvey Young, Dean of BU College of Fine Arts, Lynne Allen, Director of BU College of Fine Arts School of Visual Arts, Shiela Kibbe, Director ad interim of BU College of Fine Arts School of Music, Jim Petosa, Director of BU College of Fine Arts School of Theatre, and Lynne Cooney, Artistic Director of Boston University Art Galleries. The Committee selected winners to be awarded grants of $12,000 based on individual proposals detailing how the artist would use the award to launch their careers as well as the artist’s concern for social issues and the artist’s role in contemporary society. Kahn Award recipients have gone on to enjoy successful careers including singers, Stephen Salters, Dominque LaBelle, and Kelly Kaduce; violinist Mira Wang; actors Russell Hornsby and Ellen Harvey; scenic designer Antje Ellerman, designer Bethany Shorb, and painter Nicholas Lamia.