The College of Fine Arts honored the 2021 Creative Achievement Award winners for the top undergraduate and graduate students and their academic success, celebrated in the Arts Oasis on Oct. 8.
The 2021 Creative Achievement Award recognizes exceptional creativity in students who have earned respect as innovative and talented artists and scholars. These awards are traditionally presented to one undergraduate and one graduate student from Art, Dance, Music, Theatre and Film & Television to honor those who have demonstrated expectational scholarship, creativity, innovation, and passion for the arts.
“We celebrate the critical ways in which your creativity and intellectual inquiry contributes to the growth and vitality of the community of practitioners and scholars that comprises the College of Fine Arts,” said Andy Schulz, vice president for the arts and dean of the College of Fine Arts.
This year’s award winners include Woodlin Latocki and Lisseth Carillo (School of Art), Caitlin Rose and Dakota Merritt (School of Dance), Tim Kaiser and Katie Baird (Fred Fox School of Music), Kensey Coleman and Linda Varela (School of Theatre, Film & Television).
2021 Creative Achievement Award winners
School of Art
Graduate, Illustration + Design
Woodlin Latocki was recruited to develop, from concept to completion, the forthcoming short animation piece in the University of Arizona Wonder series, learning new animation skills to create the marketing video.
As a third-year graduate student, Latocki has excelled in her multiple roles within the School: as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (2019-‘21), technician in the Book Arts & Letterpress Lab (2020-‘21), and Graphic Designer for the School of Art (2019-‘20). As a Medici Scholar, she used the grant to create a series of drawings and prints documenting the urban neighborhoods of Minneapolis, capturing the residue and evidence of human interaction and strife, including the neighborhood where George Floyd was murdered.
Professor Karen Zimmerman notes, “She is one of the most focused and dedicated artists I have worked with and is most deserving of the Creative Achievement Award.”
Undergraduate, Illustration + Design
Lisseth Carillo challenged herself to strive with each project to create more ambitious solutions to the constraints of space, equipment, and the emotional weight that infused both home life and school. Carillo is a senior majoring in Illustration with an overall 4.0 GPA. She has been named to the Dean’s List for her entire tenure at the University of Arizona. She is the recipient of the Phi Theta Kappa scholarship, awarded to community college honor students, and the College of Fine Arts Scholarship, a merit-based tuition award in recognition of her outstanding design arts portfolio.
Nominating professor Nicole Antebi, writes “Lisseth was a student in three of my courses in 2020-‘21: Animation, Motion, and Illustration. In each of these three classes, Lisseth produced work that was innovative, thoughtful, and complex in ways that revealed new aspects of each medium.”
Caitlin Rose Dakota Merritt
School of Dance
Caitlin Rose is an incredibly committed and dedicated student, dancer, choreographer, and artist. Caitlin Rose discovered a newfound talent with dance-on-film. Not only has Caitlin been creating and choreographing for film, but she took on the task of videographer and video editor. She was the videographer for many of her peer’s dance-on-film projects, as well as her own.
The work she created virtually was profound and inspiring. Caitlin also took on the challenge of creating a digital platform for the School of Dance’s end of the semester performance, Last Chance 2 Dance.
Dakota Merritt is a focused dance artist who is always striving to further develop and refine her craft. She has a strong desire to search for new experiences in an effort to deepen her understanding of dance and to broaden her perspective. It is especially impressive how Dakota transformed her artistry during the past 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Many of my works are based on human interaction and how to find an authentic connection between the dancers and the audience.” This was apparent in her heartfelt her dance on film entitled Through Her Awakening where four dancers each represent an element of navigating their emotional well-being.
She will continue to create with her thoughtful and intelligent approach to dance and choreography long after she has completed her BFA degree in dance and transitions into her aspired professional career in New York City.
Tim Kaiser Katie Baird
Fred Fox School of Music
Graduate, Wind Conducting
Tim Kaiser came to our program with a wealth of experience. His effectiveness springs from a synthesis of knowledge of all instrumental families along with his innate ability to connect with students from varied backgrounds. His skills as a music educator and as an ensemble conductor are efficient and effective, and his talents augment the ways in which he can personalize his instruction to maximize the potential of the Arizona students.
Kaiser quickly, effectively, and professionally distinguished himself. He has managed both educational authority with his fellow students and professionalism with the school of music faculty. His accomplishments include presenting at conferences in 13 states as well as the Arizona Music Educators Association Conference twice.
Undergraduate, Viola Performance
Katie Baird was awarded the Presser Scholar for the Fred Fox School of Music this past spring, and was awarded the Shirley and Maurice J. Sevigny First Generation Scholarship by the University of Arizona in 2020 for academic achievement. She has taken her education to the next level, performed with numerous world-renowned violinists, served as a College of Fine Arts Ambassador, and created her podcast, “Beyond the Score.”
Dr. Molly Gebrian: “Since the moment I started working with Katie, I have been very impressed with her work ethic, attention to detail, and her desire to improve as a musician. She holds herself to a very high standard and comes to every lesson very prepared and always enthusiastic about continuing to improve.”
Kensey Coleman Linda Varela
School of Theatre, Film & Television
Graduate, Theatre Production
Kensey Coleman exemplifies true excellence in her scholarly work as well as in her artistic and design work. Her focus on visual storytelling, the details of a script, its dramaturgy, and how it connects to not only her personal experience, but the human experience at large have made her not only an invaluable part of our Scenic Design program but has also led her to find great success both in and out of the design studio. With her work on several productions for the Arizona Repertory Theatre Company, she approaches each with an incredible passion to grow as an artist and as an artistic voice on the leadership team.
“Kensey is a joy to work with,” writes her nominating professor Joe Klug. “She takes tremendous pride in her work, and always goes above and beyond the call of duty in any task she undertakes. While she is a very hard worker, Kensey also has a fantastic personality—she’s smart and lively, with a great sense of humor and fun. I can say with confidence that Kensey will be a leading voice in the theatre design community moving forward.’
Undergraduate, Film & Television and Theatre Studies
Linda Varela is a highly exceptional student, double majoring in Film & Television and in the Theatre Studies, holding a 4.0 GPA in both programs. That she has made substantial artistic accomplishments in film and in theatre in an unprecedented way has set a high bar to which our faculty hope future students will aspire. A highlight of her work has been her creative and touching examination of the ways that culture often pressures people to change themselves to fit social standards.
Professor Yuri Makino: “I had the privilege of having Linda in my Directing for Screen class last year. Linda (working remotely) expanded my ideas about how the assignment could be accomplished and showed me how resourceful, creative and capable she is.”
The College also recognized students for academic success with the Academic Distinction award (GPA of 3.5-3.99 during the academic year) and the Highest Academic Distinction award for those earning a 4.0 GPA.