Ryan Ward, SACI Alumn (Fall 2004) was recently awarded the first annual Murray Dessner Memorial Travel Prize which is given to a graduating MFA student from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA).
The Murray Dessner Award is established in memory of Murray Dessner, a much beloved Academy professor and noted Philadelphia artist. It is a significant annual prize for a student selected by the Graduate faculty at the Annual Student Exhibition. It was Murray’s long-time desire to allow a graduating MFA student to be inspired by travel just as he had been as an Academy student during the summers of 1965 and 1966. The Murray Dessner Award in the amount of $5,000 is granted to a second year MFA student for travel and study, to be completed within nine months following graduation. It is a significant annual prize for a student selected by the Graduate faculty at the Annual Student Exhibition. The award is presented in consideration of the quality and originality of the student’s travel proposal, graduation wall, and his/her achievement over the two-year period of MFA study.
Ryan’s travel grant will be focused around An Investigation of American Historical Sites and their Modes of Information Dissemination and Presentation – which will take him on a road trip across the South and Southwest parts of the United States.
Ryan’s MFA Thesis work at PAFA was part of a larger exhibition — the Annual Student Exhibition — which took place this spring at the school in Philadelphia.
In a statement about his work, Ryan writes, “I see the works as historical sites. Private and public memories meet here. Abstract codes and markers are born of this meeting. These are translated into a language. Actual raw building materials soon transform into metaphors of social architecture. Only realized through ongoing excavation and archiving, the place becomes a type of domestic exterior. One travels inside or outside, above or below, through or around this newly meditative ground. Historical fictions grow here – fictions entirely as truthful as collective first person accounts can be.”
Ryan Ward (b. 1983) lives and works in Philadelphia.