The University of Arizona College of Fine Arts
Achievement Awards 2020
Creative Achievement Awards
School of Art
Undergraduate, Art History
Grace Anne Liatti is a senior Art History major with a double minor in Religious Studies and French. Apart from her overall 4.0 GPA, Grace has impressed a number of faculty with her dedication to art historical scholarship, her outstanding performance in every class she has taken, and her commitment to social justice issues.
Her lively and intelligent engagement with the art and history presented in enhanced the learning process in her classes, as she consistently stands out head and shoulders above her colleagues.
Grace has received nothing but the highest praise from her professors and her supervisors from her successful internship with the Tucson Museum of Art, where she worked in tandem with Dr. Julie Sasse to spearhead the exhibition Southwest Rising: Contemporary Art and the Legacy of Elaine Horwitch. She is a highly motivated and intelligent student who is an outstanding representative of the art history program’s committed undergraduate students.
Read Grace's Full Recommendation Letter
The Art History Division of the School of Art is pleased to enthusiastically nominate Grace Anne Liatti for a 2020-2021 Creative Achievement Award. Grace is a senior Art History major, minoring in Religious Studies and French, with an overall 4.0 GPA. She has impressed a number of the faculty in art history with her dedication to art historical scholarship, her outstanding performance in every class she has taken, and her commitment to social justice issues.
In Prof. Romano’s ARH 401A, “Art as Plunder” class, Grace was the top undergraduate student. She wrote an excellent research paper on a hot contemporary topic, “The Healing Potential of Repatriation: Finding Closure and Building Relationships through the Repatriation of Native American Cultural Items.” She went beyond the requirements of the research paper and conducted interviews with curators and the repatriation coordinator in the Arizona State Museum to gain a practical sense of the subject matter. In keeping with her interests in social justice, Grace has chosen to write a senior art history thesis this fall semester on another current topic: the role of museums in recontextualizing American public monuments that are deemed racist, present outdated images of minority populations, or heroize individuals with tainted histories.
Grace took two Renaissance art history classes with Prof. Cuneo and stood out head and shoulders above the 50+ undergraduates in the one class, performing on par with art history graduate students in the other. During class discussions, Grace would regularly ask extremely thoughtful questions that served to both deepen and expand upon concepts and issues just learned in class. Her lively and intelligent engagement with the art and history presented in lectures enhanced the learning process in those classes.
In spring 2020 Grace carried out an internship at the Tucson Museum of Art (TMA) where she worked with the Registrar’s office and with curator Dr. Julie Sasse to prepare the exhibition Southwest Rising: Contemporary Art and the Legacy of Elaine Horwitch. When the museum shut down in mid-March, she worked remotely to research the history and iconography of a folk-art painting cycle, wrote an annotated bibliography, and compiled translations of the Quechua and Spanish words and phrases that accompanied each painting in the cycle. She received the highest praise from her TMA supervisors for the thoroughness and high quality of her work, her contributions as a part of the team working on the exhibition, and then her ability to shift quickly to working independently.
Grace will be applying to very competitive graduate programs in art history for fall 2021, and this Creative Achievement Award would be a great boost to her applications. She is highly motivated and intelligent and is an outstanding representative of the art history program’s committed undergraduate students.
On behalf of the School of Art Honors and Awards Committee,
Stacie G. Widdifield, Chair
School of Dance
Kyle Halford is one of our most dynamic, accomplished, and talented dancers to attend our BFA program in recent memory. Kyle’s great promise for a future in the professional dance world was recognized early on. His ability to perform both tap and classical ballet techniques at a professional level while still at a young age, equally along with the techniques of jazz, modern and contemporary movement, are part of what made Kyle a highly sought-after recruit for our program.
The other parts we were quick to discover: His devotion to dance, drive, artistic sensibilities, choreographic capability, responsible nature and exceptional work ethic; not to mention his friendly and outgoing disposition. As an undergraduate, Kyle’s performance experience containsa list of master works and notable pieces of choreography by top-ranking internationally and nationally recognized choreographers.
Kyle Halford is a creativity-fueled dance student whom is also extremely hard working. He sets high standards for himself and continually seeks opportunity to further his vast capabilities. Kyle is most-certain to be a shining light in the performing arts upon his graduation.
Read Kyle's Full Recommendation Letter
It is with great enthusiasm that I nominate Kyle Halford, a senior in the undergraduate program at the University of Arizona School of Dance, for the 2020-21 Creative Achievement Award. As one of our most dynamic, accomplished and talented dancers to attend our BFA program in recent memory, I am delighted to share with you some highlights of his accomplishments.
Kyle’s great promise for a future in the professional dance world was recognized early on. His ability to perform versatile styles and techniques landed him the starring role as ‘Billy’ in the hit musical Billy Elliott for the Drury Lane Theater in Illinois a few years prior to attending the University of Arizona. His ability to perform both tap and classical ballet techniques at a professional level while still at a young age, equally along with the techniques of jazz, modern and contemporary movement, are part of what made Kyle a highly sought-after recruit for our program. The other parts we were quick to discover: His devotion to dance, drive, artistic sensibilities, choreographic capability, responsible nature and exceptional work ethic; not to mention his friendly and outgoing disposition.
As an undergraduate, Kyle’s performance experience contains a list of master works and notable pieces of choreography by top-ranking internationally and nationally recognized choreographers. Some highlights include his casting in the soloist role of ‘Phlegmatic’ in The Four Temperaments by George Balanchine, a role that requires a display of both great artistic maturity and technical control; and in Unicorn, an 8-minute solo by the late choreographer, David Berkey. He has been a featured dancer in master works Megalopolis by Larry Keigwin, and Sentinel, also by Berkey, as well as in a running list of diverse faculty pieces by Tamara Dyke-Compton and Christopher Compton (Broadway Jazz), Michael Williams (Jazz and Tap), Pablo Rodarte (Flamenco), Amy Ernst (Modern) and seven of my own works spanning the genres of jazz, modern and contemporary dance. Kyle is a favorite performer amongst his peers as well, also having been featured in over fifteen pieces for student-choreographed ‘Student Spotlight’ performances.
Other important achievements for Kyle include his receiving of the Maria C. Mendel Memorial Scholarship (for excellence in ballet) in 2019 and three Medici Scholar Awards in 2018, 2019 and 2020. He was recognized for holding the Highest Academic Distinction for his Freshman and Sophomore years and has made the “Dean’s List with Distinction” for 5 semesters. He is an active member of the School of Dance’s community outside of the studio, putting his Minor in Business Administration to use in the position of Treasurer for the Dance Collective for both his Junior and Senior years.
Kyle Halford is a creativity-fueled dance student whom is also extremely hard working. He sets high standards for himself and continually seeks opportunity to further his vast capabilities. I have enjoyed getting to know him as a person and as an incredibly gifted artist. Kyle is most-certain to be a shining light in the performing arts upon his graduation. I am confident that you couldn’t find a more deserving candidate for the Creative Achievement Award.
Assistant Professor of Dance
The School of Dance is impressed by Eduardo Zambrana’s abilities as both a performer and choreographer in the School of Dance. He is a wonderfully professional student, dancer, choreographer and artist. As a dancer, Eduardo is strong across all styles we teach – ballet, modern, contemporary and jazz. As a member of the UA Dance Ensemble, Eduardo has performed many masterworks, including those by Nacho Duato, Larry Keigwin and Martha Graham.
In addition to the faculty and guest repertoire that has featured him as a performer, many of Eduardo’s own choreographies have been selected by the faculty to be performed in the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre. Eduardo’s research as a choreographer is truly inspiring. He finds fresh and innovative ways of moving to drive his creative process.
As a choreographer he is always pushing boundaries of the art form. Not only is he a MFA candidate in the School of Dance, but while earning his undergraduate degree with us, was a double major in Engineering. He accomplished this while working to support himself financially, and prior to this time went through many hardships while growing up in Bolivia. This helped him develop a strong work ethic that we are witness to every day.
Eduardo has proven to be one of the most professional and talented graduate students we have had in our program and has become a great role model to our undergraduate dance majors.
Read Eduardo's Full Recommendation Letter
On behalf of the faculty in the School of Dance, I offer this letter of nomination for Eduardo Zambrana for the Creative Achievement Award at the graduate level. We are impressed by his abilities as both a performer and choreographer in the School of Dance, and speaking personally, I view Eduardo as one of the most talented students I have ever taught! He is a wonderfully professional student, dancer, choreographer and artist.
As a dancer, Eduardo is strong across all styles we teach – ballet, modern, contemporary and jazz. As a member of the UA Dance Ensemble, Eduardo has performed many masterworks, including those by Nacho Duato, Larry Keigwin and Martha Graham.
In addition to the faculty and guest repertoire that has featured him as a performer, many of Eduardo’s own choreographies have been selected by the faculty to be performed in the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre. Eduardo’s research as a choreographer is truly inspiring. He finds fresh and innovative ways of moving to drive his creative process. As a choreographer he is always pushing boundaries of the art form.
Not only is he a MFA candidate in the School of Dance, but while earning his undergraduate degree with us, was a double major in Engineering. He accomplished this while working to support himself financially, and prior to this time went through many hardships while growing up in Bolivia. With a father in the Air Force who was always away from home; Eduardo helped his mother raise his two sisters. The adult responsibilities he took on at a young age helped him develop a strong work ethic that we are witness to every day. Now, as a graduate student, Eduardo has a very demanding schedule that includes a half-time teaching assignment. Coursework towards his degree continues to include both performance and choreography. Eduardo has proven to be one of the most professional and talented graduate students we have had in our program and has become a great role model to our undergraduate dance majors.
Eduardo is an accomplished and inspired artist, and speaking on behalf of the faculty in the School of Dance, we are proud to put him forward as our selection for the Creative Achievement Award.
Associate Professor in Dance
Fred Fox School of Music
Undergraduate, Flute Performance
Kaissy Yau is a senior Flute Performance major and UA Honors Scholar. An international student from Hong Kong, her studies are underwritten her International Excellence Tuition Scholarship. Her inexhaustible work ethic is evidenced by her success as a performer, maintenance of a 4.0 GPA, impact as a volunteer and instructor of the New Horizons Band, and leadership as the president of the College of Fine Arts Ambassadors and Honors College Partnership through Honors Mentor.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that canceled her live performances, Kaissy took the opportunity to explore new territory. She has recorded her performances that showcase not only her musical prowess, but her skills as a composer, arranger, engineer, and producer. Her project is a didactic tool for students in the Fred Fox School of Music as an example of virtual/live performance solutions. Kaissy is said to be one of the most enthusiastic and prolific students to be taught in the Fred Fox School of Music.
Read Kaissy's Full Recommendation Letter
It is a distinct pleasure to recommend Wing Nok “Kaissy” Yau as recipient of the the 2020 Undergraduate Creative Achievement Award. She is an award-winning flute performance major and UA Honors Scholar whose studies are underwritten by her International Excellence Tuition Scholarship. Her inexhaustible work ethic is evidenced by her success as a performer, maintenance of a 4.0 GPA, impact as a volunteer and instructor of the New Horizons Band, and leadership as the president of the College of Fine Arts Ambassadors and Honors College Partnership through Honors Mentor.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has postponed Ms. Yau’s solo concerto performances with the White Mountain Symphony Orchestra and UA Wind Ensemble, Kaissy has recognized that earning market share will arise through recording and disseminating her media. She has created recordings showcasing not only her musical performance prowess but her musical production acumen as a composer, arranger, engineer, and producer. Specifically, the repertoire and manner that she has marketed these recordings have created appealing content to engage isolated clientele. Maximizing on the need for social isolation, she has arranged and recorded her avant garde/beatbox version of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero to include a combination of live and sampled instrumentalists. She has masterfully utilized a digital audio workstation for recording and expanding the flute repertoire via her website and social media. Her project is a didactic tool for students in the Fred Fox School of Music as an example of virtual/live performance solutions. This can be a template for all burgeoning musicians including both performers and composers to use as a strategy to showcase their talents. She capably used these skills to the benefit of the Fred Fox School of Music in creating media for the #KeepMakingMusicAtArizona campaign.
Kaissy’s achievements continue an arc she began as a young performer and athlete. She completed all ABRSM grade level exams and was principal flute of the German Swiss Philharmonic Orchestra and International Concert Orchestra of Hong Kong prior to attending UA. She is one of the most enthusiastic and prolific students I have had the privilege of teaching over the past 27 years. It is with great pleasure that I strongly recommend Kaissy be awarded the honor of the 2020 Undergraduate Creative Achievement Award as I am certain that she will to succeed well beyond our institution.
Brian A. Luce
Professor, Flute Performance
Graduate, Guitar Performance
Andrés Pantoja is a DMA candidate in the Guitar Performance program. Since entering the MM program at the Fred Fox School of Music in 2016, he has completed all of his coursework with a 4.0 GPA. As a performer, Andrés has had outstanding results and has won numerous guitar competitions at the Fred Fox School of Music.
In an outstanding feat, Andrés’ recent CD entitled Estampa: 21st Century Chilean Guitar, was financed with a highly competitive grant from the Chilean Government and contains five world premiere recordings from Chilean composers. His intellectual interest led him to be the winner of the TINKER Field Research Grant that supported his pre-dissertation work in Chile.
Andrés is not only an outstanding student and world-class guitarist but a devoted husband and father to two young boys.
Read Andrés' Full Recommendation Letter
It is an honor to nominate Andrés Pantoja, a truly outstanding student, scholar and musician for the Fall 2020 Creative Achievement Award.
Andrés Pantoja has been a student at the FFSoM since January 2016, when he entered our MM in Guitar Performance program. Now a DMA candidate, he has completed all his required academic coursework with a 4.0 GPA. Please bear in mind he studied English in Chile for a year in order to enter our MM program!
As a performer Andrés has had outstanding results and has won the following guitar competitions at the FFSoM: David Russell Bach Prize in 2019 (he made a wonderful arrangement of BWV 1004), the 15th Annual Beeston Memorial Guitar Competition and the 36th Annual Sholin Memorial Guitar Competition both in 2017. Also, he performed the Schulman Award Recital, an honor given to the student with exceptional results in the Bolton Guitar Studies Program competitions. The fact that my studio is full of international competition prizewinners sheds light on the outstanding achievement this record is.
Andrés has always shown initiative and curiosity in developing new projects. His recent CD, Estampa, 21th Century Chilean Guitar, was financed with a highly competitive grant from the Chilean government.and contains 5 world premiere recordings by Chilean composers. Andrés also recorded two works for the CD, Música de Barrio, a collection of music by Guillermo Eisner in 2019. He is currently gathering financial support for his next CD project Platero and I for guitar and narrator, that he plans to start this August.
His creative impulse inspired him to apply for and win the Medici Scholar Award 2020 to create interactive images that accompany the live performances of the aforementioned cycle Platero and I for guitar and narrator, an original staging that will be a wonderful addition to his career and a delight for audiences.
His intellectual interest in and resulting commitment to contemporary music has been very strong. This year he won the TINKER Field Research Grant. His project “Extended Techniques for the Classical Guitar in Chile” was supported in the amount of $2000 to cover travel and field- related expenses for pre-dissertation work in Chile.
He has accompanied his creativity with hard work, which has resulted in two Chilean CONICYT Scholarships for both his Master and Doctoral degrees and, as a result, we have had this extraordinary student for very little cost to the school. (Now that is a creative achievement!)
Andrés also regularly plays in master classes for visiting artists, such as the Duo Assad and David Russell. He has been featured in the Tucson community performing in local venues such as the Arizona Senior Academy, Tohono Chul Series, and for the Centennial Hall Science Lecture Series. Andrés exhibits a willingness to participate in non-profit events for the school and in the community whenever he is called upon.
In closing I want to add that Andrés is a humble, gracious, and delightful person. He finds the time and energy to be a devoted husband and father to two young boys while doing excellent academic graduate work in a second language and maintaining world-class ability on the guitar. Andrés Pantoja would be a fitting recipient of this award; please contact me should you wish to discuss his candidacy.
Director of Bolton Guitar Studies
Sanford and Phyllis Bolton Endowed Chair for Classical Guitar
School of Theatre, Film & Television
Undergraduate, Film & Television
Matthew Potwardowski is a senior BFA Film and Television major who is the recipient of the Erik Anderson Scholarship awarded to students who excel in editing. Matt is held in high regard by his professors who concur he is an extraordinary student.
He was selected by the FTV Internship Committee for a competitive internship with LA-based Voltage Pictures which has produced films such as The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club. Here his talents and leadership skills were recognized and he was tasked with spearheading intern projects.
Hanson FilmTV Director Vicky Westover, who helped place Matt at his internship, said, “Matt applies himself to every professional development opportunity with seriousness, gratitude, courage, and an openness to learning and critique. Wherever Matt goes next, he is sure to excel creatively and professionally.”
Read Matthew's Full Recommendation Letter
The Film and Television faculty is pleased to nominate B.F.A. senior Matthew Potwardowski for this year’s Undergraduate Creative Achievement Award. There are many excellent students in the FTV program, but Matt’s artistic talents, and the rigor and thoroughness with which he approaches his work mark him as a very special student indeed.
In my Directing for the Screen course Matt produced a video assignment which is a testament to Matt’s command of the craft of filmmaking. Matt wrote and directed an original scene, “I’d Love to Change the World” about a woman’s desire to pursue ventriloquism and how her puppet, Chester, comes between her boyfriend and her. The witty dialog and commitment by his actors had me laughing out loud. Despite the absurdity of the situation, what comes through is a tenderness between the couple who seem to be only capable of communicating through “the third wheel,” and which seems to speak to the difficulty of modern relationships.
Matt’s teachers hold him in high regard and concur that he is an extraordinary student. Associate Professor Jacob Bricca has had Matt in three courses. He said, “In Documentary History Matt’s ability to express himself through the written word was unmatched; he received the highest grade in the class on both of the two essays, and his creativity in applying concepts presented in class was breathtaking. In Fundamentals of Editing, Matt made bold choices in all of his editing assignments, solving problems in unique ways. Now that I am working with him in Senior Capstone I see the full range of his creativity via the original script for his thesis film, Lucid Dreamers. The writing is dark and brooding and full of atmosphere, but also crystal clear in its depiction of the lead character: a young man engaged in tragic self-deception as he encounters the disturbing maladies of an old friend that he let down at a crucial moment long ago.”
Matt was selected by the FTV Internship Committee for a competitive internship with LA-based Voltage Pictures, which has produced and financed films like The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club. Matt received this coveted internship because of his excellent script coverage skills and thoughtful responses during his interview. At Voltage Pictures Matt’s supervisor quickly recognized his leadership skills and he was assigned to oversee a group of interns on a project updating a database. Matt learned to use soft skills in delegating tasks to other interns, as well as further honed his skills in script coverage.
Hanson FilmTV Director Vicky Westover, who helped place Matt at the internship, said, “Matt applies himself to every professional development opportunity with seriousness, gratitude, courage, and an openness to learning and critique. Wherever Matt goes next, he is sure to excel creatively and professionally.”
It is worth noting that Matt is extraordinarily professional and generous in his comportment. He steps up to help faculty and his classmates. Matt has a 3.9 GPA and is the recipient of the Erik Anderson Scholarship which is awarded to students who excel in editing. He also works in production at AZPM.
The Film & Television faculty are extremely lucky and proud to have Matt in our program. We believe he has a wonderfully bright future and are honored to nominate him for the Creative Achievement Award.
On behalf of the FTV Program Faculty, please accept this nomination.
Associate Director, Film & TV program
School of Theatre, Film & Television
Undergraduate, Theatre Studies
Marina Oloño is a senior Theatre Studies major whose level of academic rigor has places her on the Dean’s List every semester. Marina has demonstrated many shows of leadership and discipline throughout her four years. In 2018, she designed the playbills and the social media campaign for two seasons of the Studio Series.
In 2019, she became an integral part crafting the script for Romeo and Juliet: For Love or Money. She has expanded her theatrical know in endeavors outside of the University as an intern with the Arizona Theatre Company for the past three seasons. Marina has always been impeccable in her discipline; well prepared for every class; off book and well-rehearsed before arriving at any rehearsal.
A distinguished faculty member said, “Marina is a listener and a story-teller. She approaches work with a respect that is both serious and playful. These qualities give her such a wonderful energy as an academic, an artist, and a collaborator.”
Read Marina's Full Recommendation Letter
It is my pleasure to write a letter nominating Marina Oloño for the CFA Creative Achievement Award. I first met Marina in Fall 2018 when she designed the playbills and social media campaign for two seasons of the Studio Series Season. Marina always supplied precise, savvy, on message artwork and engaging social media posts. Her work was always on schedule.
I was happy to see her again in the Spring 2019 semester in my TAR262 improvisation class. There Marina demonstrated excellent scholarship and a terrific work ethic. She was a joy to have in both classroom and studio. Her academic engagement is top notch and original. I was particularly struck by her final paper, “Combatting Listening Barriers with Improvisation,” which was beautifully argued and perfectly cited. Her positive spirit, commitment to course work, and her humility was always appreciated by her fellow students and certainly by me.
I had another opportunity to work with Marina, when in the following Fall Semester, I cast her in another Studio Series Production, an adaptation called, Romeo & Juliet: For Love or Money. All the women in the cast played Juliet at one point or another, but Marina’s mature grasp of Juliet’s linguistic brilliance, intelligence and wit, won her the Balcony Scene. She also happened to play Romeo in the apothecary scene towards the play. I had to cut the scene for time, but Marina wrote me an impassioned and intelligent email arguing that I keep it. What was striking was that she did not mention how hard she had worked on it, but only that the scene was dramaturgically necessary for the theatrical event that we were creating. As a professional dramaturge, I must admit that her arguments were compelling and correct, and while in the end I still cut the scene, I used some of her arguments in the narration that replaced it. For me, Marina’s best moment in that rehearsal process came when I was distributing lines to the ensemble. I gave her on particular line. “Well, I don’t care. I believe in Love.” She was absolutely jubilant. I asked her why she was so excited, and she told me, “I really wanted that line because I do. I believe in Love.”
This semester she asked me to work with her on an independent study researching performer presence. This quite interesting contract – where we study Fitzmaurice Voicework and its impact on theatrical presence – was entirely of her devising. She is studying both embodied presence with me and the neuroscience of presence with Rick Wamer.
She has always been impeccable in her discipline; well prepared for every class; off book and well-rehearsed before arriving at any rehearsal. This level of rigor is best demonstrated by the fact that she has appeared on the Dean’s List every year since the 2017-2018, once with distinction.
Marina has also been of service and expanded her theatrical know how in endeavors outside the University. She has worked as an intern for the last three seasons at the Arizona Theatre Company where she has assisted with auditions, conducted donor background research, written program notes, moderated post show discussions, and been a reader for the Latino Playwright Awards. She was also the Stage Manager of an outstanding site-specific production of Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information in the Tucson Fringe. She also volunteers at the Diamond Children’s Center as a pediatric tutor. In this capacity, she creates lesson plans, helps with schoolwork, reads to, and plays educational games with hospitalized children.
When asked for comments on Marina’s abilities as a scholar and artist one fellow faculty member shared this: “Marina is a listener and a story-teller. She cares deeply about history and she is connected to the present in such a way that I was always aware of her presence in class even if she wasn’t speaking. Honestly her attentiveness was unmatched. She approaches her work with a deep respect that is both serious and playful. These qualities give her such wonderful energy as an academic, an artist and a collaborator.” I do hope you will seriously consider awarding this honor to Ms. Oloño. I could not name a worthier candidate!
Graduate, Scenic Design
Rebekah Clark is a third year MFA candidate focusing in scenic design, who has always impressed with her artistic abilities that are rooted in passion, exploration, and theory. A veteran to the Arizona Repertory Theatre, her attention to the details of the script, its dramaturgy, and the nuance of space have made her not only an invaluable artistic voice in the Scenic Design program, but has lead her to opportunities to succeed on larger projects.
She became a key collaborator on the touring production of Romeo and Juliet where her work became some of the most sophisticated and elegant designs that the touring production had ever seen. Rebekah showcased her passions to success when she and two other graduate students became one of three groups selected from the United States to present their work at The Prague Quadrennial.
Rebekah is a student who consistently demonstrates a love of learning, art, design, and a level of commitment that will make her successful not only in theatre, but also in life.
Read Rebekah's Full Recommendation Letter
On Behalf of the Design and Technology Faculty, it is with great enthusiasm that I nominate Rebekah Clark for the Graduate Student Creative Achievement Award for this coming October’s convocation. Rebekah is a third year MFA candidate focusing in Scenic Design, who has always impressed with her artistic abilities that are rooted in passion, exploration and theory.
In her time at UArizona and the School of Theatre, Film, and Television, Rebekah has worked on a total of 7 productions for the Arizona Repertory Theatre Company as a Scenic Designer, Assistant Scenic Designer, Assistant Projections Designer, Paint Charge, and Scenic Artist. Most Scenic Design graduate students have completed 4 or 5 shows by the time they reach the beginning of their third year. Rebekah has attacked each of these processes with an incredible passion to not only grow as an artist but as an artistic voice on the leadership team guiding the production. With each project, Rebekah’s process has included a dedication to visual storytelling that has been unrivaled in our graduate program. Her attention to the details of the script, its dramaturgy, and the nuance of space have made her not only an invaluable part of our Scenic Design program, but has lead her to opportunities to succeed on larger projects.
In Rebekah’s second year, she became an integral part of a collaboration with the Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center (ASTEC). I was asked to design a series of Escape Rooms for the medical school to use in their training as part of the new Health and Sciences Innovation Building. As my Associate Designer on the project, Rebekah took the artistic lead on designing and shaping the Victorian Asylum Escape Room. Rebekah was able to shape an incredibly detailed and visually stunning interactive exhibit, and she engage Dr. Hamilton, the head of the project, like a seasoned professional. She talked with him about the goals of the design and how they benefited the medical students who would eventually inhabit the space. Rebekah was then able to collaborate with a professional 3D modeler that we brought in to work on the project, guiding him through the design to ensure that the renderings illustrated the details and goals of the design.
Over the last two years Rebekah has also moved beyond the College and University to shine on National creative projects. In the summer of 2019, Rebekah has served as my Assistant Designer at Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. Rebekah’s passion and artistic voice made her a large part of the success of that season. She was an incredible collaborator on the indoor shows she assisted on and on her design for the touring production of Romeo and Juliet. Rebekah with limited resources, was able to create one of the most sophisticated and elegant designs that the touring production has ever seen. The artistic staff and collective are still talking about how successful the design was and how it helped bring the touring production to a new level aesthetically.
Lastly, Rebekah showed how her passions and talents are relevant to the conversation happening on the international Stage. In her first year, Rebekah teamed up with Tori Mays, a 3rd year MFA candidate, and Ryan Moore a 2nd year MFA candidate to work on the Common Design Project for the Prague Quadrennial. The Prague Quadrennial is an international design conference that happens every 4 years in Prague hosted by the Czech Republic. The Project centered around the play Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry. Rebekah took the lead on putting together the submission materials and organizing all of the incredible work that they had worked on over the course of 3 months. In total, the Prague Quadrennial received 60 entries from across the globe, and twelve projects were selected to travel to present their work at the PQ. Tori, Ryan, and Rebekah’s work was one of the twelve selected (1 of 3 selected from the United States.)
As a student, professional and artist, Rebekah has demonstrated a love of learning, art, design, and a level of commitment that will make her successful not only in theatre, but also in life. I hope that you will consider her for the Graduate Student Creative Achievement Award for October Convocation. I cannot think of any student better suited for this recognition.
Joe C. Klug
Assistant Professor of Scenic Design
School of Theatre, Film, and Television
University of Arizona