Hollins, Roanoke College Announce Perry F. Kendig Award Winners for 2013

Perry F. KendigA painter and promoter of the arts for the past 50 years, a businessman who provided local artists with affordable studio space, and the area’s only professional theatre designed just for children, have been named the winners of  this year’s Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards.

Co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College, the Kendig Awards recognize distinction in arts and culture in the Roanoke Valley. Individuals, businesses, and organizations from the Roanoke Valley region (which includes the counties of Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton) are eligible, as are any past Kendig Award recipients. Hollins University and Roanoke College employees and programs are not eligible. Awards are presented in each of the following categories: Individual Artist, Individual or Business Supporter, and Arts and Culture Organization.

Harriet Stokes, whose large and colorful canvases can be found in public venues and private homes throughout the Valley, is this year’s Individual Artist award recipient. A Salem resident who recently celebrated her 99th birthday, Stokes was one of the originators of Art in the Alley and has been an exhibitor in Roanoke’s Annual Sidewalk Art Show for 54 of the competition’s 55 years. She was also a strong advocate for the Roanoke City Schools’ art program when it was threatened by budget cuts. In an essay for The Roanoke Times, Dorsey Taylor, owner of LinDor Arts in downtown Roanoke, called Stokes “the grande dame of the arts” and noted, “Through her efforts, she has shaped the friendliness of the art community to embrace one another rather than see us all fall to self-promotion.”

Richard Kurshan, who for a decade made two floors of studio space available to many local artists at Studios on the Square on Roanoke’s West Campbell Avenue, is the winner in the Individual or Business Supporter category. “I will always be grateful to Richard for enabling me to have a downtown Roanoke studio space at a price I could afford for 10 years,” said Susan Jamison, whose work has been exhibited in museums and galleries nationwide. “Having this space has enabled me to create countless works, establish my career, and feel grounded as a working artist.”

In the Arts and Culture Organization category, the Roanoke Children’s Theatre (RCT), whose mission is to offer quality theatre education and entertainment for kids, their families, and their schools with year-round productions and programming, is this year’s awardee. RCT provides more than 4,500 programming hours to 17,000 youth each year, and since opening in 2008, RCT’s productions, educational outreach programming, and theatre education classes have reached more than 56,000. Recently, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recognized RCT’s “RCT4TEENS” program, which focuses on relevant and challenging issues youth face, and in 2011 RCT received the Roanoke City School Board’s Award of Recognition for its efforts to address bullying among sixth-graders in the Roanoke Valley.

Stokes, Kurshan, and the RCT will be officially honored at The Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards presentation on Sunday, November 3, from 4 – 5:30 p.m. in Roanoke College’s Colket Center Wortmann Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Laura Rawlings at (540) 375-2088 or rawlings@roanoke.edu.


Children’s Literature Students Volunteer to Help Young Ethiopians “Eager for English”

EthiopianProjectStudents in Hollins University’s graduate programs in children’s literature have shared their talents with an international partnership designed to help bring English fluency to children in the African nation of Ethiopia.

Facilitated by Peace Corps Ethiopia, the project’s student authors each wrote an age-appropriate creative short story about 500 words in length. The stories were illustrated by Ethiopian artists and published in various regions of the country to supplement English language instruction in grades four through eight.

Peace Corps Ethiopia’s Amanda Sutker came up with the idea of matching her fellow education volunteers in Ethiopia with talented writers in America to develop stories for classroom and community reading programs. “While most English teachers and learners in Ethiopia lack the fluency necessary for effective English communication, they generally share the same sentiment: ‘We’re eager to improve our English,’” she explains. “What’s lacking within the Ethiopian education system is learning tools to catalyze skill development.”

Sutker majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing at South Carolina’s Presbyterian College, and knew of many graduate programs specializing in children’s literature. To find the best one to approach for volunteer writers, she consulted her creative writing advisor, who suggested Hollins.

“I emailed Amanda [Cockrell, director of Hollins’ M.A. and M.F.A. programs in children’s literature] in December 2012 to see if Hollins would be interested in partnering with us,” she recalls, “and after that things blossomed.”

Cockrell contacted student writers in the children’s literature program to gauge their interest in volunteering for the project. More than 20 graduate students agreed to take part, including Adeana Lopez, who Cockrell subsequently nominated to coordinate the Hollins effort.

“The response didn’t surprise me at all because Hollins people are simply that way,” Lopez says, adding that when a second email request was sent to recruit three additional writers, 37 people responded the same day.

Once the goal of enlisting writers was met, the project’s next step was connecting the authors with the Peace Corps Ethiopia volunteers. They shared local information such as common names, crops, holidays, environmental landmarks, and unique cultural practices, which in turn enabled the writers to produce engaging and culturally relevant English literature unique to Ethiopian communities. Writing was completed in September 2013 and story illustration was wrapped up two months later. In February 2014, the stories were printed and the compilation was distributed to schools throughout the country.

“Because the illustrations and publishing were completed in Ethiopia, all cash flow for the project occurred locally,” Sutker notes. “There were four separate editions of the book, one for each region (Tigray, Amhara, Southern Nations, and Oromia) that participated in the project. Five hundred copies of each of the four editions, a total of 2,000 books, were printed. The books were then evenly distributed to more than 200 Peace Corps volunteers stationed around the country to share with local primary school libraries and community centers.”

“This was a fulfilling, worthwhile project, and a chance for our graduate students to explore some writing outside of what might be their normal range,” Lopez says. “Many of them are already teachers, which helped them, and they received the input they needed to write a good story that meets the needs of these


Hollins, Roanoke College Announce Perry F. Kendig Award Winners for 2014

kendigLocal artist and Hollins University Professor of Art Emeritus Bill White, Mill Mountain Theatre, Member One Federal Credit Union, and the Roanoke Arts Commission have been honored with this year’s Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards.

The awards were presented during a ceremony at Hollins on September 30.

Co-sponsored by Hollins and Roanoke College, the Kendig Awards recognize distinction in arts and culture in the Roanoke Valley. Awards are presented in each of the following categories: Individual Artist, Individual or Business Supporter, and Arts and Culture Organization.

Also highlighting the ceremony was the presentation of the Harriett Stokes Memorial Award, a special award this year that commemorates the life and work of the Salem artist who was called the “grande dame of art in the valley” by LinDor gallery owner Dorsey Taylor. Stokes, who passed away in May, was one of the originators of Art in the Alley and was an exhibitor at Roanoke’s Annual Sidewalk Art Show for more than 50 years. Last October, she received the Kendig Award in the Individual Artist category.

White, a painter, educator, leader, and facilitator who has contributed to the arts in Roanoke for decades, is this year’s Individual Artist award recipient. He has earned acclaim for his artistic technique, his commitment to teaching, and his organization of exhibits at local museums.

Mill Mountain Theatre, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, was recognized in the Arts and Cultural Organization category. Despite challenges during its half-century of existence, MMT has succeeded through tenacity and perseverance. At the same time, it has given back to the community through education and partnerships with other arts organizations.

The Kendig Award for Individual or Business Supporter was presented to Member One Credit Union. Member One provides financial support for arts and culture in the Roanoke Valley, along with leadership, volunteer initiatives, and business practices.

The Roanoke Arts Commission received the Harriett Stokes Memorial Award. This all-volunteer body has worked to support and lead the development of arts and culture in Roanoke, developing the nationally recognized Park and Arts program and overseeing funding for local arts and cultural organizations.

Named for the late Perry F. Kendig, who served as president of Roanoke College and was an avid supporter and patron of the arts, the Kendig Awards were established in 1985 and presented annually by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge through 2012. Hollins and Roanoke College first partnered last year to bestow the honors, and congratulate the 2014 winners.