Students honored for creative achievement

April 27, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- The College of Arts and Architecture recently honored 19 students with Creative Achievement Awards in recognition of outstanding performance in their respective majors.

Tristan Benedict is a fifth-year student in the Department of Architecture and will graduate this May. She was the winner of the statewide John Stewardson Memorial Competition, for which she was awarded a traveling fellowship. After graduation, she will use the fellowship to explore the historic and modern architecture of East Asia and to further study the architecture in Rome, where she spent the spring 2008 semester. During summer 2008, Benedict was a design intern at SmithGroup JJR in Washington, D.C., where she was part of a team designing the new New York Law School building in Manhattan. After completing her international travels, Benedict plans to work for a leading design firm.

Kaustav Gupta is a graduate student in architecture and instructor for the architecture design studio at Penn State. His work focuses on sustainable design and modern design techniques. Currently he is involved in criticizing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating systems for sustainable design for his graduate thesis. Gupta's background includes a wide range of positions with different architectural firms in India and the United States. He presented and published a research paper on his graduate thesis at the 2008 International Conference for Enhanced Building Operations in Berlin and his studio work was featured in a paper at the 2007 Oxford Conference in the United Kingdom.

Adam Loughry will graduate in May with a bachelor of architecture degree. A Schreyer Honors College scholar, he will serve as the Department of Architecture's student marshal during commencement. He recently won second place in the statewide John Stewardson Memorial Competition in Architecture. In 2007, he served as team leader/project manager on Penn State's entry in the Solar Decathlon, an international competition in which Penn State placed fourth out of 20 schools. Loughry participated in the Premio Piranesi Design Competition, a two-week design charrette in Tivoli, Italy, in which he collaborated with architecture students from the Università degli Sudi di Milano. Loughry and his two teammates earned a "special mention" award and partial scholarship for graduate studies at the Universita di Roma.

Katherine Kunkel is a Schreyer Honors College senior who is completing concurrent majors in art history and chemistry, as well as a minor in biology. Her honors thesis research (under Charlotte Houghton) examines collecting patterns in the encyclopedic Wunderkammern of early modern Europe. Kunkel has been selected as this year's class marshal for the Department of Art History. Her many additional activities include participation in programs on tropical field ecology in Costa Rica and sustainable development in Bulgaria, two years as a member of a funded synthetic organic chemistry research team, and more than 300 hours as a volunteer emergency medical technician. Kunkel plans a career in medicine, and will begin her graduate study this fall at the Medical School of the University of Pittsburgh.

Ashley Williams is graduating this May from Penn State's Schreyer Honors College with a triple major in art history, French and international studies. Among the many honors she has received are a Schreyer Ambassador Travel Grant (to photograph 12th-century Siculo-Arabic ivory boxes); the Parkinson Petracca French Department Travel Award; and a Schreyer 2007 President Sparks Award. Williams was enrolled as an Italian student at Liceo Marconi in Milan during academic year 2004-05. That year she represented Italy in international ice-dancing competitions, after 12 years of competitive skating at the national and international levels. Her honors thesis presents original research on the context of Puvis de Chavannes' murals for the Boston Public Library. Fluent in French and Italian, Williams plans to pursue a doctorate in art history with a specialization in Byzantine art.

Kristin V. Dean holds bachelor's and master's degrees in art history from the University of Oregon. She entered Penn State's art history doctoral program in 2006. Her primary fields of study have been 20th-century architecture, contemporary art and global urbanism. She has presented papers on her work at symposia held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of Iowa, University of Oregon and Penn State. She has also been a major force in the founding and development of the Graduate Student Association for Visual Culture at Penn State. Dean's dissertation, "Reshaping the Neoliberal City: The Politics of Cooperation and the Movimiento de Ocupantes e Inquilinos," is exploring the Movement of Squatters and Tenants (founded 1988) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Kyle LaMar
is a senior graphic design student from Quarryville, Pa. He received a Merit Award at the 2008 Real Show sponsored by the Art Directors Club of Washington, D.C. He also won the logo design competition for the Pennsylvania Prescribed Fire Council in 2008. In summer 2008, LaMar completed a graphic design internship at Spin magazine in New York City. After graduating in May, he plans to return to New York to pursue a career in editorial design.

Justin Colt is a senior graphic design student who has earned many honors for his work. He received a Gold Award for Stationery and Identity Systems at the 2008 Real Show sponsored by the Art Directors Club of Washington, D.C., and was one of two designers awarded the Art Directors Club's Brian Brown Scholarship for students who exhibit a high level of quality in their work. Colt has been co-editor of graphic design for The Daily Collegian and was named Graphic Designer of the Year in both his freshman and sophomore years. During summer 2008, he served as an intern at North, an advertising agency in Portland, Ore. After graduation in May, Colt plans to work for a small design studio and continue to grow as a designer.

Reid Fellenbaum
is a fifth-year landscape architecture student and will graduate in May. He has received a scholarship each of the past four years, and he and his architecture student collaborator were selected as the winners of the 2007 Thorp Design Competition. He spent a semester studying abroad in Rome and, last December, participated in a cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural workshop in Peru with the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research. Upon graduation, Fellenbaum will enter a graduate program in architecture and urban design. He eventually aspires to own a design firm.

Kristen Moreau is a fifth-year landscape architecture student and will graduate in May. Moreau has been on the dean's list every semester and is the recipient of the Landscape Architecture Excellence Award and the James Rose Center Garden Design Scholarship. As one of the top six students in her class, she will present to a jury for one of this year's American Society of Landscape Architects student awards. Moreau studied abroad in Italy for a semester in the department's Sede di Roma studio. While abroad, she traveled independently through eight European countries. Moreau's future plans include attending graduate school to study art and/or architecture, seeing more of the world and working in an urban design firm.

Christiana Canner
is a student in the School of Music's integrated undergraduate-graduate degree program and will graduate in spring 2010 with a bachelor's degree in horn performance and master's degree in music theory and musicology. A student of Lisa Bontrager, she attended the Aspen Summer Music Festival in Aspen, Colo., in 2008. Canner received honorable mention in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble concerto competition, and was a finalist for the orchestral concerto competition. Canner plays third horn in the Nittany Valley Symphony, second horn in the Altoona Symphony Orchestra and third horn in the Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra, and is a member of the Centre Brass Quintet and the 2111 Brass Quintet. She is a student in the Schreyer Honors College and has made the dean's list every semester. Canner has taught at the Penn State Summer Music Camp, coached the State College High School Horn Quartet, and taught private lessons.

Lisa Duke is a Schreyer Honors College scholar who will earn a bachelor of music in flute performance and composition in May, with honors in harp performance. Her thesis is titled "Alphonse Hasselmans and his Paris Conservatory Students: the Foundation of Harp Tradition," and she has performed a solo recital of harp music from the Paris Conservatory. At Penn State, Duke performs on flute, piccolo and harp with the Philharmonic Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonietta, Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band. In addition to performing, Duke enjoys conducting and is the assistant director of the Penn State Flute Ensemble. She was selected as a featured harp soloist for the Penn State Mosaic Concert in 2008. Duke is a published composer; her work "Four Poems for Solo Flute" is available from Falls House Press and received a favorable review in Flute Talk magazine. She will pursue a master of music degree in harp performance at the University of Texas at Austin next fall.

Nicholas Hodges will graduate in May with master of music degrees in performance (violin) and orchestral conducting. He was a University Graduate Fellow in 2006-07 and is currently graduate assistant to Associate Professor Robert Nairn. Nicholas performs as concertmaster of the Penn State Philharmonic and Penn State Baroque Ensemble and as a section first violinist in the Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra. He also is an assistant conductor of the Penn State Philharmonic and Sinfonietta. Hodges received his bachelor of music degree in violin performance and music education from the Eastman School of Music, and was a Take Five Scholar at the University of Rochester, where he studied racial politics of the 19th-century American South. In summer 2007, he was concertmaster at the National Orchestral Institute in Washington, D.C., and concertmaster of the Austrian-American Mozart Academy Orchestra in Salzburg, Austria. In addition to his performing career, Hodges has studied music pedagogy with the nation's foremost music educators, including Louis Bergonzi, Donna Brink Fox and Richard Grunow.

Robert Steven Kuhn
is a third-year student in the School of Theatre's M.F.A. design and technology program. He is a graduate of the University of Central Alabama, where he majored in studio arts. Since coming to Penn State, Kuhn has designed "As You Like It" for guest director Tom Markus, and "Word Up" and "The Wiz," in collaboration with Steve Broadnax. Kuhn was the assistant wardrobe manager at the Glimmerglass Opera last summer, concentrating on Anka Lupes' costumes for "Kiss Me Kate" and James Schuette's costumes for "I Capuleti e I Montechhi." In addition to his design assignments, Kuhn has developed a noteworthy range of technical costume skills, and was a draper on both "Big River" and "The Cherry Orchard." Kuhn also served as first hand on "Die Fledermaus," overseeing the full set of women's chorus gowns. His craftwork has been seen in "Parade" and "Urinetown."

Alexis (Lexi) Rhoades is a senior in the B.F.A. musical theatre program. Since starting at Penn State in 2005, Rhoades has appeared in productions including "Cinders," "Parade," "Big River," "Die Fledermaus," "Babes in Arms" and "Smokey Joe's Cafe," and most recently was Dorothy in "The Wiz." Rhoades has performed for West Virginia Public Theatre for the past two summers and understudied for Allyson Tucker in "Baby, The Musical" for Pennsylvania Centre Stage. This summer she will travel to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan for the second time in two months, where she will perform for U.S. troops and in orphanages, and collaborate with the Taichung University Choir in Taiwan.

Justin Stasiw is a senior in the B.F.A. theatrical design and technology program. His projection design for "Push," a new drama that was produced at the Citizens Bank Theatre in spring 2008, received an award for excellence from the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival - Region II. Previously, Stasiw engineered the projections for the University Resident Theatre Company (URTC) production of "A Year with Frog and Toad." In the area of theatre sound, Stasiw has designed the URTC productions of The "Last Days of Judas Iscariot" and "Urinetown." Stasiw has worked as a projections programmer off-Broadway and was credited as the associate sound designer for several professional regional theatre productions. Stasiw currently is involved in a project with Counts Media and The Blue Man Group called "The Ride," which will open in New York City this summer.

Elody Gyekis
is a senior B.F.A. student and Schreyer Honors College scholar with a double-concentration in ceramics and drawing/painting and minors in both sociology and civic and community engagement. In addition to her personal studio art, Gyekis has been involved in community art as a community mural organizer since she was 18. She has three murals in inner-city Harrisburg and one in her home town of Penns Valley that have cumulatively involved close to 600 people. The total square footage of her murals could cover half a football field. After graduating in August, Gyekis plans to travel and live and work in Philadelphia while pursuing her artwork and applying to graduate school.

Marie Rim will earn her master of fine arts degree in May. A visual artist working in a variety of media, she paints with her hands and says she often marvels at the realization that her academic study has led her back to her preschool technique of finger-painting. Rim says she is committed to social outreach and believes that the transformative power of art can rehabilitate society. She currently is pursuing teaching positions and residencies that will afford her the opportunity to play a role in this conviction. A native of Chester County, Pa., Rim has exhibited her work in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. She earned a bachelor's degree in liberal studies at West Chester University and studied painting at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. This summer, she looks forward to collaborating with Penn State's landscape architecture department in the Czech Republic.

Ellameitte Taraborrelli will receive her master of fine arts degree this May. She maintains a 3.98 grade-point average and has exhibited her artwork in a variety of venues at Penn State, nationally and internationally. In 2008-09, Taraborrelli's prints were selected for inclusion in the Inaugural Small Work Invitational at Elon University in North Carolina, and the Blair County Arts Festival Fine Arts Exhibition at the Penn State Altoona campus, where she was awarded honorable mention for her print. Also in 2008-09, Taraborrelli participated in the Oregon Ink Spot Print Exchange and her prints subsequently were exhibited in three different exhibitions in Oregon and later in Derby, England. Taraborrelli won third place in Penn State's Graduate Research Exhibition. Her artwork was included in the student group exhibition Qui o Li, which was organized as part of the study abroad program in Todi, Italy. Taraborrelli recently accepted a teaching position at Bucknell University for the 2009-10 academic year.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015