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Grant Helps Launch Arts Grads

Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Awards go to three CFA grads


This year’s recipients of CFA’s Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Awards are (from left) Erik Teague (CFA’11), Gaia Nardie-Warner (CFA’11), and Chelsea Basler (CFA’09,’11). Photos courtesy of the College of Fine Arts

Making a living in the arts can be daunting, but for three College of Fine Arts graduates, the Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Awards will help them put their art first.

Receiving this year’s awards are Chelsea Basler (CFA’09,’11), opera performance, Erik Teague (CFA’11), costume design, and Gaia Nardie-Warner (CFA’11), painting.

The Kahn Awards were established in 1985 with a $1 million grant from Esther Kahn (SED’55, Hon.’86) to assist CFA graduates at the beginning of their careers, and is presented annually to students in their final semester of undergraduate or graduate study. Each Kahn winner receives $10,000. The graduates are selected by a panel made up of Kahn family members and BU faculty, and selection is based on talent, accomplishments, and presentation.

“I’m really honored to be a recipient of the grant, and I hope to put it to good use,” says Teague, a two-time winner of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Barbizon Award for Excellence in Costume Design. He was the costume designer for the CFA Boston Center for American Performance fall 2010 production of Good and the craft shop manager for the 2011 Glimmerglass Festival. Teague graduated with a master’s in costume design from BU in May and plans to use the grant to start a freelance costume design business in Washington, D.C.

“I work mostly with actors,” says Teague, “and to provide something that helps them ground their character, that’s a great feeling.”

Basler earned a bachelor’s in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2006 and a master’s in music vocal performance from Boston University in 2009. In May she received an artist certificate from BU’s Opera Institute. A soprano, she has been in numerous opera productions; most recently, she sung the role of Juliette in CFA’s Roméo et Juliette. Basler plans to use the award to travel to Europe to audition for opera houses and agents. She will perform in a series of recitals in Boston and San Diego, one of which will benefit the Arthritis Foundation.

“What I love most about opera is the ‘production,’” says Basler. “I love the stories, the lights, the sets, the costumes, the people, and most of all the music. All of these things are what make an opera a real production, as opposed to just a ‘show.’”

Visual artist Nardie-Warner, who earned a bachelor’s from Knox College in 2008, also plans to use the grant to travel, research textiles, and add to her fabric collection from Guatemala, Bolivia, and China.

“I’m not interested in making a painting that looks specifically like these textiles, but making a painting move and recall life that I see existing within these garments,” says Nardie-Warner, who earned a master’s in painting from BU in May.

Nardie-Warner’s work has been shown at Iowa’s Figge Contemporary Art Museum College Invitational Exhibition and in The Space of Abstraction at the Baak Gallery in Cambridge, Mass.

Allison Thomasseau can be reached at althoma@bu.edu.

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