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Kahn Awards Help Three CFA Grads

Opera, sculpture, and design achievements win $10,000


Shari Mendlowitz (CFA’10) (left), Kara Harris (CFA’10), and Paul Tate dePoo III (CFA’10) all received this year's Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Awards.

This fall, soprano Kara Harris will walk into some 40 New York City operatic auditions armed with self-confidence, Rusalka’s “Song to the Moon,” and $10,000.

Harris (CFA’10), along with set designer Paul Tate dePoo III (CFA’10) and sculptor Shari Mendlowitz (CFA’10), have received this year’s Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Awards, which assist promising artists in their transition out of academia.

The award, funded by a $1 million endowment from the late Esther Kahn (SED’55, Hon.’86), was created in 1985 and is presented annually to CFA students in their final semester of undergraduate or graduate study. The Kahns’ two daughters, Deborah Kahn and Linda Green, and a panel of CFA faculty select the recipients.

Harris, who studied at the BU Opera Institute, where she received the Phyllis Curtin Fellowship, says the prize is “a wonderful boost for starving artists.”

“It’s very generous,” says Harris. “It supports people who were told that it wasn’t practical to become an artist.”

In December, after her New York auditions, Harris plans to go to Germany to further study her art. “It’s important to me to keep this art form alive,” she says of opera. “It’s not dying, but it’s not thriving, either. Everyone can relate to opera on some level, and it’s our job as artists to keep it fresh.”

For Mendlowitz, who earned a master’s in sculpture, the award is a gift of time — and space — to refocus her outlook on sculpture. She’s rented a studio in Pawtucket, R.I.

“I’m still working with trees,” she says, “But I’ve discovered in moving to a new studio that wax and concrete aren’t very mobile. It’s weird because it’s just me, on my own now, so there’s less competition. It’s more of a focus on what works for me, like changing the idea of size. Trees, paper, and paint are pretty light and easy to work with.”

With a bachelor’s in theatre design, dePoo, who designed BU’s Radium Girls and the BU Opera Institute’s production of Thérèse Raquin, is already making headway out in the world. He was also involved with Opera Boston’s premiere of Madame White Snake, as assistant to the designer David Zinn, which is scheduled to tour Asia this summer, and he was an assistant designer to Theatre Projects Consultants London, working on Cirque du Soleil’s newest production in Dubai and architect Zaha Hadid’s Dubai Opera House.

He is also working with Michael Cotton, Michael Jackson’s former production designer. His projects include a multimillion-dollar theater for Gloria Estefan, as well as designing for resorts in California, Florida, and New York.

“It’s a different mindset than theater, but you still have to tell a story, and figure out the best way to connect to an audience,” says dePoo, who moved to New York June 1. “It’s much more corporate, but I still have to keep artistic integrity. I also have to back up and say what has to be done — there can’t just be 10 million showgirls flying in the air.”

The Kahn Award will enable dePoo to design a show in the New York Fringe Festival this August. He’s also enrolled in classes at a design studio to learn digital art rendering.

“A lot of these shows I’m working on have no budget, and at the same time I’m thinking Las Vegas,” he says. “But for me, the Kahn Award is supporting the artistic side of it.”

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter @kcornuel.


6 Comments on Kahn Awards Help Three CFA Grads

  • Anonymous on 06.11.2010 at 7:32 pm

    Mr. DePoo was not the Opera Boston’s premiere of Madame White Snake. As an Opera Boston subscriber I resent this incorrect fact.

  • kcornuelle on 06.14.2010 at 1:24 pm

    congratulations to Shari, Kara, and Paul. It’s got to be such a relief to have this award!

  • Anonymous on 06.14.2010 at 2:51 pm

    He was the assistant to the designer David Zinn. Typo possibly? It is stated in the first press release.


  • Anonymous on 06.14.2010 at 3:18 pm

    Kahn Award Winner Kara Harris

    Kara Harris really, really deserves this award. Keep an eye on her career. She is a beauty to listen to and see in person.

  • Anonymous on 06.27.2010 at 1:15 pm

    Ms. Harris

    Kara Harris truly embodies what it takes to win an award like this – she is a force soon to be reckoned with, and really has what it takes to make herself a class A performer! I can’t wait to see her on stage again soon – it’s been too long since I last saw her onstage as the title role in Picker’s ‘Therese Raquin’!

  • Anonymous on 02.09.2011 at 11:48 pm

    Great to see that this is how Kahn award winners are spending their money! It appears Mr. DePoo has been buying $300 shirts and $400 shoes.
    Maybe next time BU decides to give out $10,000 they should also consider the need of the applicant.


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