Legends Gala raises vital funds for student scholarships – 71Bait

For the first time in three years, the Pratt community gathered in person for Legends, the annual gala benefiting student scholarships that support diversity. Legends 2022 was a joyful event held under the historic domes of Weylin, an event space in the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The November 15 jubilee honored Arem Duplessis, Phyllis Lambert and Mickalene Thomas for their cultural impact. With two of the honorees — Duplessis and Thomas — being Pratt alumni and Lambert honorary degree recipients, it was a night particularly steeped in a sense of community among the 200-plus guests, especially after two years of virtual gatherings.

Nearly 80 percent of Pratt students receive financial aid to pursue their educational and creative ambitions, with the Legends Scholarship providing important support to their success. Legends honorees are respected leaders, innovative thinkers and creative icons whose commitment to their communities, the development of their fields and the promotion of a positive future aligns with Pratt’s values.

After a cocktail reception, guests were greeted by Pratt President Frances Bronet, who celebrated the adaptability and resilience of the faculty, students and staff in the room demonstrated over the past tumultuous few years: “You can see all of these amazing qualities that have reflected in our multi-talented Legends awardees.” She also recognized how the institute “is making positive change in the city and beyond. We’ve partnered with nearly 100 community partners to improve our New York neighborhoods.”

She then introduced the new Chair of the Board of Trustees, Gary Hattem, who recalled the importance of scholarships in his own education. “A Pratt scholarship was a turning point for me personally, maybe even a lifesaver,” he said. “I had the benefit of a partial scholarship with Pratt, which enabled me to complete my studies in graduate school [for architecture] Mid 1970s. It has enabled me to reduce my hours driving cabs in New York City.”

Miranda Obić, BFA Communications Design ’23, was the 2022 Legends Student Speaker and spoke about her perseverance as the daughter of immigrants to take a non-traditional route to study illustration, including beginning her studies at PrattMWP prior to her current senior year at Pratt Brooklyn campus. “For families like mine, our dreams seem impossible, but with the support of a strong and loving community, they are within reach,” she said. “As difficult as my journey has been for me, I hope it can inspire you to persevere in your endeavors and I hope you will continue to watch my colleagues and I as we forge our future together to pursue that.” what we love most and what is close to our hearts.”

Each of the participants went home with a souvenir of Obić’s art in the form of a print and magnets designed by her. Charlotte Van Dercook, vice president and contemporary art specialist at auction house Sotheby’s, launched a call for viewers to donate grants ahead of the awards ceremony. The Legends 2022 Awards were designed by Yile (Lisa) Fan, BID ’23, and crafted from metal under the supervision of Dana D’Amico, Associate Professor of Industrial Design. A short video by Reilly Bair, BFA Film ’23, showed the design process for the sculptural objects.

Legends 2022 at Weylin (Photo by Andrew Werner)

Graphic designer and creative director Janet Froelich presented the 2022 Legend Award to designer and Pratt alumnus Arem Duplessis. Duplessis is the creative director at Apple and was previously the design director of The Magazine of the New York Times. He is also an AIGA medal recipient and co-designed the GQ Gotham typeface for the redesign of GQ Magazine. “To all the young black creatives in here, when you’re the only one in the classroom you have to move on,” he said. “When you start your job and you’re the only one in the conference room, you have to keep pushing. If you end up in the boardroom, you have to keep going. You need to use this platform to give back and the best way to give back is to be aggressive in how you mentor people and how you educate them. You raise them with honesty and support.”

Cynthia Davidson, architecture editor, critic and Pratt Faculty member, presented the 2022 Legend Award to architect Phyllis Lambert. An author, scholar, curator, conservationist, photographer, critic and activist, Lambert is the founding director emeritus of the Canadian Center for Architecture and previously received an honorary doctorate from Pratt in 1990. Lambert, who was unable to attend in person, expressed her gratitude in a video acceptance speech: “I am delighted at the honor of being named a legend and especially on this evening which encourages the creation of legends to come.”

Thelma Golden, director and chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, presented the 2022 Legend Award to Pratt graduate student Mickalene Thomas. A globally recognized multidisciplinary artist who has exhibited in museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many others, she also co-founded the Pratt>FORWARD mentorship program for emerging artists, the recently started space in Newlab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “I’m here because someone told me I could be an artist,” she said. “At a pivotal moment in my life, a community provided a sense of awareness and growth. I’m thrilled to be standing with these esteemed Co-Honors for this great cause and to help expand grants for future creatives, but I’m very grateful to Pratt and many of you for giving me the space and freedom give to pave my own way in the art world.”

President Bronet then delivered the closing remarks, looking to the future and the need to support the next generation who will follow in the footsteps of the laureates. “We have big plans for the world around us,” she said. “We have a lot to do. It is with great anticipation that I imagine our journey towards the predictable and very unpredictable projects that we will discover and realize together. Thank you to our incredible legends. You are absolutely inspiring and we will carry you with us every moment.”

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