Student projects awarded Weisman

By Alexandra Kukulka

The student film you have been working on is almost complete.  All that is left to shoot is the final scene and then edit. Then you realize you don’t have enough money to hire an editing team to help you. After all the hard work you put into the project, giving up is not an option.

In an effort to support academic endeavors like this, the Albert P. Weisman Award funds student projects up to $4,000. The award was established in 1974 to help students enhance their portfolios, according to Dirk Matthews, associate director of the Portfolio Center.  This year, a total of $80,000 was awarded to Columbia students.

Approximately 40 students win the award each year.

However, this year there were 55 winners, Matthews said. This year’s recipients  were from a variety of majors, such as dance movement therapy and counseling, whereas past winners commonly came from the film and video or photography departments, Matthews added. The winners were announced Jan. 20.

“The requirements for just applying are the student needs to be [at least] a junior at the college and has to be enrolled in at least one semester during the award period,” he said.

During the application process, students write a short statement about their projects, submit work samples and a planned budget. If an applicant received the award, he or she is required to meet with a Weisman advisor, according to Matthews.

“At the very beginning, students will meet individually with their advisor,” he said. “Then, they will set out the goals of the project and ask for various ways that the project can be supported by the advisor.”

Each advisor is a Columbia faculty member and working professional in the field he or she specializes in, Matthews said. The advisors help students collect any materials that are needed for the project to receive critical feedback from judges, he added.

Weisman Award recipient Ian Wilson, graduate arts management student, was given funding for his first solo album, “This is Water.” His advisor is Portfolio Center faculty member

Colin DeKuiper.

“He comes from a music industry background,” Wilson said of DeKuiper. “He’s played in a ton of bands around Chicago, and he is active in bands now. I have already had one meeting with him, and he had a ton of ideas that I haven’t thought of, [on] how to promote the album.”

Senior fashion studies major Kendra DeKuiper received the award for her clothing design project, inspired by Albert Camus’ “The Stranger.” She is working on a collection of dresses made with delicate layers of fabric that tells a story with the imprints on each new design that is presented.

Kendra DeKuiper, who is Colin DeKupier’s sister, said the most important part of the collection is the embroidery that she worked on herself. The process consists of stitching images on thin fabric, she added.

“All of a sudden, I was looking at my project and really realizing that it was out of my funds,” Kendra DeKuiper said. “That is why I submitted my application for the Weisman, and they will front up to half of my material costs.”

Material shortage is one need for funding, and so is the final editing of a started project.

Ashley Fargnoli, a graduate dance/movement therapy counseling student, started a film in India about the benefits dance therapy has for survivors of human trafficking. However, the project was put on hold for four years because she did not have the funds to make final edits. Fargnoli said she was awarded $3,000, which will go toward editing and adding music composition to the film.

“I wasn’t sure [about receiving the award] because it has been such a long process,” Fargnoli said. “First it was filmed and then it was put on hold, so I wasn’t sure if they would accept that.”

According to Matthews, there will be a showcase Sept. 4 for the winners’ work.

“I think [the students presented] very bold and unique projects,” he said. “It was really exciting to be a part of the process of helping to determine the winners and award students these funds.”