More than 400 guests attended Pratt Institute’s Legends 2016 gala this month at the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan. The benefit raised one million dollars in advance and an additional $120,000 during its first-ever live auction and call to action resulting in a record $1.1 million for student scholarships. The festive event honored sculptor, Angela Conner, architect, William T. Georgis, and founder and President of InterArch, Shirley Hill for their contributions to the world of art, design, and architecture. The annual benefit provides vital funds for merit and need-based scholarships that help the 60 percent of Pratt students who receive financial aid to pursue their educational and creative ambitions. Each honoree was presented with a cast iron and alabaster Legends Award designed by industrial design student Megan Lighty ’17.
Pratt Board of Trustees Chair Bruce Gitlin began the evening by introducing student speaker Maryam Turkey, an undergraduate student and scholarship recipient. In her speech Turkey explained how she moved to the United States to receive a quality education. “Coming to the United States was the most exciting thing to happen to me at that time, but the whole journey was also the hardest part of my life,”
Turkey said. “However, I always had one friend with me that made me really happy and peaceful, it was my sketchbook.” She went on to describe how the support she’s received at Pratt, both financial and emotional, has helped her continue her education.
Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, presented the 2016 Legends Award to Angela Conner, a self-taught sculptor who was honored for her outstanding career of more than 40 years. Conner, like Turkey, also turned to art and design as a way of dealing with a life of change. “My parents were in international business, which led me to having 32 different homes,” Conner said. “To solve this endless change, what I did as a child was to create my own world and let it move with me.”
Michele Oka Doner, internationally renowned artist and author, presented the 2016 Legends Award to William T. Georgis, who was honored for his remarkable contributions to the field of architecture and interior design. Georgis, who admitted that the older he gets, the more interested he is in helping the younger generation, offered some advice to students in attendance. “In the end, design is design is design, but don’t forget history and always be grateful,” Georgis said.
Co-Chief Executive Officer at Tory Burch LLC Roger Farah presented the 2016 Legends Award to Shirley Hill, a Pratt Institute alumna who was honored for her outstanding work as the founder and president of InterArch, an international architecture, design, and branding firm. Hill thanked Pratt for helping her to find her unique talent and passion. “It has been said if you can find something you love and are passionate about, that you never have to work a day in your life,” said Hill. “I am one of those fortunate people.”