Awards For Distinction

Image from Tom Friedman installation at the Kemper Art Museum, 2006. Photo by Stan Strembicki.

Six distinguished art and architecture alumni honored

Posted by Liam Otten April 23, 2009

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis will honor six outstanding architecture and art alumni at its second annual Awards for Distinction dinner April 23, 2009.

The awards recognize graduates who have demonstrated creativity, innovation, leadership, and vision through their contributions to the practices of art and architecture, as well as to Washington University and the Sam Fox School.

"The awards dinner is one of the Sam Fox School's most important events of the year and a crucial way to recognize the career achievements of our alumni and friends," notes Carmon Colangelo, dean of the Sam Fox School and E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts. "Honorees are selected by their fellow alumni and by current faculty and professionals in related fields."

Recipients of the 2009 Awards for Distinction are Ralph Cunningham, AIA (BA 1983) of Washington, DC; Ann Fertig Freedman (BFA 1971) of New York; Tom Friedman (BFA 1988) of Leverett, MA; and Harry C. Kendall, AIA (BA 1976) of New York.

In addition, Sara Velas (BFA 1999) of Los Angeles will receive the 2009 Young Alumni Award. Judy Pfaff (FA71) of New York will receive the Dean's Medal for distinguished service to the school.

The awards ceremony will take place at the Coronado Ballroom, 3701 Lindell Boulevard. For more information, contact Aly Abrams, (314) 935-7223, or


Ralph Cunningham, AIA, BA 1983, 
Washington, DC
Cunningham is a founding principal of Cunningham | Quill Architects and has worked in residential, in-fill mixed-use, institutional, and commercial architecture for more than 20 years. His projects have received numerous design awards, including 29 awards from chapters of the American Institute of Architects and two "Best of the Year" awards from Remodeling magazine. He also has served on numerous juries for local and national publications including the Residential Architect Awards last year. Cunningham has been visiting faculty at both Catholic University and Howard University and is currently a trustee on the Board of The Washington Architectural Foundation.

Ann Fertig Freedman, BFA 1971, 
New York
Freedman joined Knoedler & Company, one of the New York's preeminent galleries, in 1977 as director of contemporary art and in 1993 was appointed president and director. She has served on the Executive Board of Directors of the Art Dealers Association of America and on the National Council of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, among others. With her husband, Robert L. Freedman, Freedman is active both as a collector of art and a museum patron, donating works from their collection to museums across the country. Recent donations include the gift of Frank Stella's wall relief Lo Sciocco Senza Paura (1984) to the Sam Fox School's Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.

Tom Friedman, BFA 1988, 
Leverett, MA
Friedman is known for transforming mundane consumer products into playful yet meticulously crafted works of art, ranging from sculptures and drawings to prints, installations and multimedia constructions. His work has been exhibited at major museums throughout the world, including solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2006 the Sam Fox School's Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum inaugurated its new College of Art Gallery with Pure Invention: Tom Friedman, an exhibition of more than 20 works, drawn largely from St. Louis-area collections, surveying the last decade of his career.

Harry C. Kendall, AIA, BA 1976, 
New York
Kendall co-founded BKSK Architects in 1985 and serves as partner-in-charge of business development as well as the firm's public liaison for projects requiring complex regulatory approvals. Kendall also has led design of some of BKSK's largest projects in landmark districts, including New York's Fischer Mills Building and 124 Hudson Street Condominiums, both of which were lauded by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. An adjunct professor of architecture in Columbia's graduate Historic Preservation program, he lectures widely on the topic of adaptive re-use and new buildings/additions in landmark districts.


Sara Velas, BFA 1999, 
Los Angeles
Velas is a visual artist and founder and director of The Velaslavasay Panorama, an exhibition hall, theatre, and garden in the historic Union Square area of Los Angeles, which she launched in 1999. Velas has travelled extensively, visiting 19th-century panoramas—as well as their contemporary counterpoints—throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. A member of the International Panorama Council, she has lectured extensively on her interpretation of the panoramic artform. She recently participated in the exhibition 20 Years Ago Today: Supporting Visual Artists in Los Angeles at the Japanese American National Museum, and completed a monthlong printmaking residency at Kala Institute in Berkeley.


Judy Pfaff, FA71, 
New York
Pfaff is one of the most celebrated artists of her generation, known for crafting large-scale installations that combine local materials with elements of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Her work has been featured in more than 100 one-person shows and installations and more than 200 group exhibitions and today can be found in such prestigious collections as the Detroit Institute of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and New York's Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art. Her numerous awards include a 2004 MacArthur "genius" Fellowship as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and many others.