Creative Arts Award revived, awarded to soprano
This year, the Division of the Creative Arts has reinstated the Creative Arts Award after a decade-long hiatus. Last Thursday, the Office of the Arts announced its newest recipient, soprano Tony Arnold. In conjunction with receiving the award, Arnold will serve a yearlong residency at the University, working on projects with students and faculty, lecturing and performing her own works.
The Creative Arts Award, founded in 1956, was usually awarded to multiple artists every year. Generally, three types of awards were given — “medals” were awarded to artists who “left an enduring mark upon their times,” according to the Brandeis website. “Citations” were given to emerging artists understood to have big prospects, and “Notable Achievement Awards” were given to artists whose accomplishments were thought to exceed those who received medals and citations.
Artists such as William Carlos Williams, Vladimir Nabokov, Arthur Miller and Georgia O’Keeffe have been among the recipients. In 1995, the award was converted into The Poses Institute of Arts, a program that gave grants and short-term residencies on campus.
Chair of the Music department, Prof. Yu-Hi Chang (MUS) told the Justice that the initiative to bring back the Creative Arts award has been in the works for a few years now.
According to Chang, former Director of the Office of the Arts Scott Edmiston and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Prof. Eric Chaslaw (MUS) both independently proposed the idea of reinstating the award. The initiative was spoken about informally at the Music Department faculty meeting, said Chang, and then brought to the School of the Creative Arts for approval.
In the past, the award ceremony in New York was the extent of the Creative Arts Award’s impact on the Brandeis community. But as it is being reinstated, it is also being reinvented.
As such, Chang emphasized the importance of the yearlong residency in conjunction with the award: “We really would like to have someone to really engage in the Brandeis community [and] especially [interact] with our students. This is something we really feel really strong about,” she said.
So in looking for the recipient, the Department of the Creative Arts was looking for somebody who would work well within this vision. “We were looking for people, artists, who have great influence and impact in the world — for us it would be the music world — and then have the ability to reach out … to different issues in different disciplines,” said Chang.
Arnold is not new to Brandeis — she was in residence with the Music Department in 2013 for a short-term engagement. Now, she says, she is excited that she will be able to work with students and professors from multiple disciplines.
“Now my role is expanded beyond the music department, expanded beyond the composers … it’s really amazing to be asked to work on an institution-wide level,” she said in an interview with the Justice. Arnold is expected to collaborate with the Fine Arts, Theater, English and Creativity, The Arts and Social Transformation departments among others.
But her role, Arnold told the Justice, is to facilitate discussion around these issues and help students navigate their own works and ideas. “They’ll bring the content in terms of what’s important to them and then I will help them navigate those waters,” she said.
One of the themes Arnold hopes to address during her residency is politics and its relation to the voice. “Students are very politically engaged, or they want to be very politically engaged, and oftentimes they don’t know how to be politically engaged. I don’t know how to be politically engaged. This is something that I think we all struggle with,” she said.
In the spring, Arnold will engage with students even more directly by teaching an internship class that will be open to students of all disciplines.
The award ceremony for Arnold will take place on Nov. 18 at the Rose Art Museum, at which time Arnold will also perform, obtaining inspiration for her program from the “Lisa Yuskavage: The Brood and the LA/MA:’60s Pop From Both Coasts” exhibits currently on view.