CFA Presents Three Students with Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Awards

Boston, MABoston University College of Fine Arts is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Award: Ivana Jasova, a DMA candidate in Violin Performance from School of Music, Courtney Lynn Nelson from School of Theatre’s Graduate Scenic Design program, and Josué Rojas from School of Visual Arts’ Graduate Painting program. The winners each received $10,000 grants to help them transition into artistic careers following their graduation next month. The awards were presented on Friday by Benjamín Juárez, Dean of Boston University College of Fine Arts.

“All of the award recipients are accomplished artists in their fields, but beyond their creativity and artistry, they are also aware of the arts as a tool to create social capital and to educate,” says Benjamín Juárez, Dean, College of Fine Arts. “They are clear examples of the Citizen Artist in the 21st century, creators who define the arts on their own terms.”



Ivana Jasova plans to use the award money to purchase a violin of high and sonorous quality that will allow her to share her talent and hard work with audiences, as well as launch her career as a professional musician. In January, Ivana traveled to Norway where she made it to the Final Round of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, being chosen as one of two finalists among 50 applicants. Unfortunately, the committee could hear the limitations of the Ivana’s violin, and remarked that an instrument with a more generous sound would have increased her chances of winning the audition. With the generous Kahn Grant, Ivana will be able to purchase the instrument of her dreams, a beautiful older violin priced at $25,000, and continue taking professional auditions. Prior to pursuing a DMA in Violin Performance, Ivana received a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California Los Angeles, Herb Alpert School of Music. While at BU, Ivana performed regularly with both the Boston Civic Symphony and Cantata Singers and Ensemble. This summer, while pursuing additional professional orchestra auditions, Ivana will travel to Tanglewood as a re-invited Fellow of the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center program and perform with the Virtuoso Soloists.



Courtney Lynn Nelson plans to use the award money to pursue theatre projects that have a severe lack of resources. Courtney looks at theatre as a community tool to encourage conversation and facilitate opportunities that may otherwise be missed. She often works with rural communities and populations that are often unreached by arts organizations, uncovering a story and letting the audience connect that to one another. Most of Courtney’s recent projects have been free and open to the public. Following graduation, Courtney has started plans with a county in southern West Virginia that would create a retreat for playwrights and theatre groups in exchange for writing workshops and community events that encourage literacy. She also has the opportunity to potentially work with a women’s collective in Myanmar. Prior to pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Scenic Design, Courtney received a Bachelor of the Arts in Theatre and Drama from the University of Wisconsin. Highlights of Courtney’s work at BU include the studio theatre production of The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, a reimagining of the contemporary opera Florencia en el Amazonas, and her design for a new play, Uncle Jack, that revealed how the Lane-Comley Studio 210 could be used in a more immersive and artful way. This summer, Courtney is looking forward to creating a budget that allows her to focus on community-based projects immediately out of graduate school without needing to splice her passions between two or three other shows and jobs.


Josué Rojas plans to use the award money to facilitate the initiative of creative community projects. A threefold plan, Josué plans to create and teach courses in studio art and community art at the post-secondary level, delving into explorations of ethics and aesthetics and thereby challenging artists and community alike to explore the creative friction between art and critical consciousness; to continue creating art initiatives in local communities through the creation of civic inventions, public art works, and structured urban beautifications projects; and to maintain an individual studio practice in his home region of the greater San Francisco Bay area that is informed by a bicultural, bilingual, and transnational experience. Prior to pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Boston University, Josué received a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Painting and Drawing from the California College of Arts & Crafts. Josué’s work with young people is in the area of development via the arts and media production. From working as art director for Youth Outlook Magazine (2004–2007), to leading dozens of public art projects with Oakland’s East Side Arts Alliance’s Visual Element Program and developing their year-long curriculum; from Fresno to San Francisco, Josué has participated in and lead innovative initiatives for youth development in the area of critical creative inquiry.


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), the daughter of the late Esther (SED’55, Hon.’86) and Albert Kahn (SED’59, ’62), husband Harris Miller, Jane Pappalardo (CFA’65), Will Lyman (CFA’71), and Anne Hawley. The Committee selected winners to be awarded grants of $10,000 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.

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