And the 2017 Student Art Prizes go to...

ClappersIntroducing the 2017 Harvard Student Art Prize winners! 

The Office for the Arts and the Council on the Arts at Harvard have announced the winners of the annual Harvard Student Art Prizes, which recognize outstanding accomplishments in the arts undertaken during a student’s time at Harvard. The establishment of prizes began in the 1980s, and  more than 140 undergraduates have received the prizes in the last 35 years. We asked several prize winners to tell us about their time at Harvard and the influence of the arts on their lives at the university. Read the comprehensive list of 2017 prize winners, the themes of the prizes and the names of the committee members here

Ileana Riveron

Ileana Riveron
Ileana Riveron '17 PHOTO: Mehdi Aourir '17

Co-recipient of the Suzanne Farrell Dance Prize, recognizing an undergraduate who has demonstrated outstanding artistry in dance

Before Harvard, my valuation of art was highly utilitarian: Its quality was proportionate to the depth and scope of its power to move spectators. During the past four years, I have learned that goodness and beauty are inherent to art and its creation, not contingent on the viewer or the final product. A solitary dance in a silent studio and a behind-the-scenes process of collaborative creation – these can be as valuable and beautiful of artistic endeavors as any glamorous spectacle.


Talia Rothstein
Talia Rothstein '17 PHOTO: Kat Kearney '17
Talia Rothstein
Co-recipient of the Suzanne Farrell Dance Prize, recognizing an undergraduate who has demonstrated outstanding artistry in dance

During my time here, I've learned that artistic practice is not and cannot be a solitary endeavor, at least for me. My favorite thing about the arts at Harvard has been collaboration: with faculty, with other student dancers, with professional guest teachers and choreographers, and with students in other art forms. I've found so much beauty here in communities of creators, and I hope to take that with me after graduation. 


Kat Zhou
"The Wonderful World of Dissocia" 2016, lighting design by Kathleen Zhou '17 PHOTO: Allison Chang '19
Kathleen Zhou
Recipient of the Alan Symonds Award, recognizing outstanding work in technical theater and commitment to mentoring fellow student technicians

Surprisingly, my academic studies at Harvard have really shaped my artistic sensibilities and theoretical background. But outside of formal academic structure, I was given the freedom to learn by doing – to put theory into practice and develop a strong personal aesthetic. For that, I will always be grateful to the many OFA employees and professors who mentored me and contributed to my artistic growth. 


Sam Wu
Sam Wu '17
Sam Wu
Co-recipient of the Robert Levin Prize in Musical Performance, recognizing an extraordinarily gifted undergraduate musician

As a composer, one of my interests is the intersection of music and the humanities. At Harvard, I've been able to explore many extramusical interests, and in doing so, seek inspiration for my work in diverse places. I look forward to continue expanding my curiosity beyond graduation.



Emma Frucht
Emma Frucht '17
Emma Frucht
Co-recipient of the Robert Levin Prize in Musical Performance, established to recognize an extraordinarily gifted undergraduate musician

Harvard's arts community encourages collaboration in a way that allows for experimentation and open-mindedness. I've loved being surrounded by so many thoughtful likeminded artists from all disciplines. It has been invaluable to my development as a musician. 


Eriko Kay
"Torso, Bandaged on Bedside Chair" by Eriko Kay '17
Eriko Kay
Recipient of the Council Prize in Visual Art, recognizing outstanding work in the visual arts

During my time at Harvard, I've learned that making art is as much a practice and daily commitment as anything else. It's something that you have to choose to make a priority every day: You're an artist because you make art. And in making this choice consciously and consistently, I've started to see art as something that informs the way that I interact with people and my environment, something that informs my way of being. 


Jake Stepansky
Brian Ge ’18, Madison Deming ’18 and Jake Stepansky '17 after the strike for "Into the Woods," which Stepansky directed.
Jake Stepansky
Recipient of the Radcliffe Doris Cohen Levi Prize, recognizing a student who combines talent and energy with outstanding enthusiasm for musical theater 

When I arrived at Harvard, I knew how to care only about final products. I made sure that when I made theater, it was drawn with clean edges and sharp lines. After four years of collaborations with seasoned professionals and mind-bendingly talented student artists, I’ve learned that art can and should be messy, and that the art-making process – and the relationships you make along the way – are just as (if not more) important.


"Le Nozze di Figaro" 2017 set by Trevor Mullin '17 PHOTO: Jordan Hayashi Photography
Trevor Mullin
Recipient of the Louise Donovan Award, recognizing a student who has done outstanding work behind the scenes in the arts 

It’s amazing how what I’ve learned in the Harvard theater community can be applied to many of my future endeavors. When I tell people how much time I’ve invested in these artistic endeavors, they sometimes cock their heads and brush it off at “art,” but these projects have truly helped me become an effective communicator and an adept project manager. I could not necessarily say that I thought that the arts would play such an important role in my undergraduate education, but it has provided me with an unparalleled opportunity to grow and prosper here at Harvard.