Ceramics Senior Kat Lee Awarded Windgate Fellowship

KatLee-58View original post at http://tyler.temple.edu/blog/ceramics-senior-kat-lee-awarded-windgate-fellowship

Each year, the Windgate Fellowship program receives two nominations from more than 50 colleges and universities across the United States. Out of these 100 nominations, 10 graduating seniors working in a craft medium or process are awarded $15,000.

Kat Lee, a graduating senior in ceramics, was one of the few students to receive the award.

“Nick Kripal, the head of my department, had asked if I would like to represent one of the two positions,” Lee said. “I agreed knowing it was a great opportunity just being selected as one of the two students from Tyler. I was also aware of a past ceramics major that received the Windgate award and decided to give it a shot. There was nothing to lose.”

Kripal said, “It’s been excellent [working with Kat], she’s really good, very hardworking. [She] explores a lot of different ideas.”

Chad Curtis, another of Lee’s professors, agrees that she shows a lot of promise with her work.

“I would say she’s one of the more focused students I’ve had in seven years working here, and also somebody that really listens and then executes that in the work,” Curtis said.

The Windgate Fellowship program is one of the largest awards available to undergraduate students. It exists to highlight a student for their achievements in their craft or process.

“For Kat, it’s a great springboard into a professional career, and a bridge between school and establishing herself as a professional working artist,” Curtis said. “And that’s a substantial amount of money for an undergraduate student to sort of set up shop with after school. It’s also extremely important in identifying her as someone who’s really got a bright future.”

He also acknowledges that the award is important for Tyler.

“For us, I think it’s a great accomplishment and a testament to all the students that are coming out of the program,” Curtis said. “It’s really beneficial to our reputation, as well as motivational for the current students…it gives something for our current students to really aspire to.”

After being nominated, each student has to complete a series of short essays about their proposals and create a detailed outline of their budget and the timeline of events.

“Each step was pretty intense,” Lee said. “I wrote, edited, hated, and re-wrote my proposal during this time. I had everyone I could think of read my proposal, and my professors in the department helped me a lot during this process.”

Four judges assembled to review the nominated applicants on a basis of artistic merit and potential to make significant contributions to their field.

Lee was driving home from student teaching when she missed a call. After calling back and having to give her name, she was suspicious about the caller.

“The phone call back was with the entire Windgate selection committee and I was on speaker,” Lee said. “They said I was one of the ten to be selected as a Windgate Fellowship recipient and I was so excited. I had never felt that much excitement or energy and all I could do was cry.”

She says that receiving the award was completely unexpected, especially because she was competing with students from art schools across the entire country.

“I felt that everything I did within the four years at Tyler placed me in that moment of the phone call. I couldn’t help but thank everyone that had helped me with my proposal or just supporting me because I know that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without his or her support,” Lee said.

In high school, Lee had teachers who attended Tyler. She was interested in going to a college in the city that she grew up in, and being able to explore more.

“The first time I worked with clay was my foundations year at Tyler,” Lee said. “It was during that semester we were taught how to make molds.”

As a sophomore at Tyler, Lee became anxious about declaring her major. Although she loved the sense of community and the teachers in the ceramic department, she also thought about declaring a glass major.

“I felt completely welcomed in ceramics. My fellow majors had the same sense of humor, motives, and I knew I found my spot inside this large, green building of Tyler,” Lee said. “Unlike glass, ceramics was a solo adventure. It was a practice involving concentration and meditation when on the wheel.”

Lee plans to use the award to travel to classes in Maine and Tennessee. She hopes to be able to advance her skills in clay, fibers, and woodworking. She will also use the money for material, firing, and travel expenses to advance her studio practice and research.

“Potter Brian Jones told me that what I make in school is not important, it is the ideas you leave with that are,” Lee said. “These words have given me emotional support throughout the years and are the driving forces challenging me with new ideas and formats. Under the auspices of this scholarship I will further study the ideas I began in school. My work will advance in skill, medium, and content; incorporating the environment and habitat into its design.”

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