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Julie Fracker
Cranbrook Academy of Art
Office: 248.645.3329
Cell: 248.770.1721

Cranbrook Academy of Art Students Receive More Than $200,000 in Awards


Bloomfield Hills, Mich., May 8, 2015 -- On the eve of its 2015 commencement ceremonies, Cranbrook Academy of Art celebrated another year of outstanding work by its graduate students at its annual Academy Awards Night on May 7.

Before a gathering of more than 200 students, families, friends and donors in deSalle auditorium at Cranbrook Art Museum, the Academy distributed more than $200,000 in fellowships, grants, awards, and scholarships, including nine distinguished awards for artistic excellence. The awards are designed to support study at the Academy and to aid 2015 graduates in the transition from student to practicing artist.

Aaron Decker, a 2015 graduate of the Metalsmithing Department, received the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Emerging Artist Award, which recognizes artistic promise with a grant and accommodations to live and work in Berlin, Germany. Decker was selected from among 10 finalists and will be offered a two-month stay in Berlin from July 1 to August 31, 2015. He will have the chance to participate in a personalized networking program with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services’ Berlin partner, the Küenstlerhaus Bethanien, which includes introductions to members of the international art community.

The $10,000 Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship was awarded to Jetshri Bhadviya, a 2015 graduate of the Photography Department. This award was created by the philanthropist, art collector, author, and curator Toby Devan Lewis, who has been an avid supporter of young and emerging artists. She created The Toby Fund to give graduating fine arts students at more than 15 schools of art around the country unrestricted grants with which to begin their careers.

The Robert C. Larson Art, Design, and Architecture Venture Award was given to current Academy students: Benas Burdulis (Architecture) to be used for travel to Latvia for a residency and internship at Tomás Saraceno's studio; Ebitenyefa Baralaye (Ceramics) for a residency at the Talking Dolls Studio in Detroit; Johannah Herr (Sculpture) for a SIM residency in Reykjavík, Iceland; and Kimmie Parker (2D) who will complete a type design residency at (The) Alphabetic Order in San Francisco. The shared award of $5,000 recognizes and supports the work of innovative and inspired Academy first-year students. The endowment fund was established by Bonnie Larson to celebrate Robert C. Larson's commitment to Cranbrook. Larson was a long-time volunteer leader and donor at Cranbrook, and served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees from 1996-2002. He was also a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy and Art Museum from 1986-2000.

The Stewart Thomson Fellowship to the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts was presented to Alyssa Bliven, a current student in the Metalsmithing Department.

The Gallery A Award was presented to Jessica Dolence, a current student in the Fiber Department. This award funds the creation and installation of work by a student in the entrance foyer of the Academy's administration offices for the upcoming academic year.

The 2015 Cranbrook Art Museum Purchase Award was presented to Anthony Warnick, a 2015 graduate of the Sculpture Department. Warnick's work was on display in the 2015 Graduate Degree Exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum and was selected for purchase by the Museum Committee. His work will be accessioned into the permanent collection of Cranbrook Art Museum.

The Cranbrook Educational Community President’s Award was established by Cranbrook's President, Dominic DiMarco. It recognizes those artists engaged in environmental sustainability projects. The $1,000 award was given to Hannah Chalew in the Painting Department to be used toward creating organic structures in an underutilized lot in Detroit.

The Academy Director’s Award was awarded to Xiaohan Zhao, a graduating Fiber student. The Director's Award recognizes excellence throughout two years of study at the Academy.

The Chrissy Award is now in its second year, and was established by the father of graduate Victoria Shaheen (Ceramics '13). The award provides summer travel opportunities for a current Ceramics student. Justin Groth (Ceramics '16) will use the award to travel to Skælskør, Denmark, to work as an assistant at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center.

The Ox-Bow Summer Fellowship was awarded to Emmy Bright, a current student in the Print Media Department. Bright will receive a fully-funded fellowship at Ox-Bow summer school program in Saugatuck, Michigan, from late May through late August, 2015. 

The 3D Summer Travel Award is a new award supported by two graduates of the 3D Design Department. The 2015 awardee is Hannah Vaughan to be used toward travel to Italy and to research Italian design and art movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Twenty-six students, who will continue their second year of study at the Academy in 2015-2016, were awarded Merit Scholarships in recognition of their talent and for meeting high standards during the past year. Merit Scholarships are supported by gifts and independent sponsors, including alumni, private philanthropists, corporations, company foundations and professional organizations.

Family members of Academy alumni and friends of Cranbrook continue their strong support of our institution with the establishment of several new endowed scholarships funds that were awarded for the first time in 2014-2015. The George R. Francoeur and Gerald A. Earles Scholarship was established by George R. Francoeur (CAA '60). George and Jerry (1939-2007) were partners in life and business for 42 years. The Jaymes B. Leahy Scholarship was established by Ann M. Leahy and the family of Jaymes B. Leahy, a 1990 Academy Graduate. The George Thomas Williams Scholarship was established by Christopher and Dian Williams in memory of Christopher’s son who was admitted to the Academy’s Class of 2009. This is awarded annually to a student in the Sculpture Department. Finally, the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation established a scholarship in honor of the artist, known for her groundbreaking work in fiber, as well as her drawings, assemblages and collages.

And finally, we are pleased to announce the presentation of the Academy's first Honorary Master's Degree to Maxine Frankel, and our Distinguished Alumni Award to Academy graduate Ruth Adler Schnee (Design '46). Both awards will be presented at today's commencement ceremony.

Cranbrook Academy of Art
Cranbrook Academy of Art is the country’s top ranked, graduate-only program in architecture, design and fine art. Each year, just 75 students are invited to study and live on our landmark Saarinen-designed campus, which features private studios, state-of-the art workshops, a renowned Art Museum, and 300 acres of forests, lakes, and streams, all a short drive from the red-hot art, design, and music scene of Detroit. The focus at Cranbrook is on studio practice in one of 10 disciplines: Architecture, 2D and 3D Design, Ceramics, Fiber, Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Print Media, and Sculpture. The program is anchored by celebrated Artists- and Designers-in-Residence, one for each discipline, all of whom live and practice on campus alongside our students. For more information, visit us at


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Image: Academy Director Christopher Scoates with Academy students.

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