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Blog . Toby Devan Lewis leaves a lasting impact


Toby Devan Lewis leaves a lasting impact

05/03/22  |  Posted by  |  Posted in President

I write to you in sadness to let you know of the passing of Toby Devan Lewis, an international patron to the arts and a wonderful friend to the Cleveland Institute of Art. Toby was a longtime member of the CIA Board of Directors, and her dedication to the College was deeply felt. Toby passed away on Friday, April 29, 2022 at her home in Cleveland. More information can be found here.

For decades, Toby enthusiastically supported emerging artists, wanting the contemporary art she collected to challenge viewers’ perceptions of the world. She grew the reputation of contemporary art through her important work at the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, which is now moCa Cleveland. The collection she amassed during her time of the Progressive Corporation is also known to be one of the country's top collections. Rightfully, Toby received the Martha Joseph Prize for Distinguished Service for the Arts in 2007 after creating the TOBY fund, which is dedicated to the arts, education and the environment.

Toby received a CIA Medal for Excellence, or Burchfield Award, in 2007, and she was awarded an honorary degree from CIA in 2012 for her contributions to the arts in America as a curator and philanthropist. Of course, visitors to CIA and University Circle will be reminded of her generosity and love for the arts thanks to the Toby Lewis Media Mesh. The 35-by-50-foot stainless steel display is mounted on CIA's western façade and shares still and moving images of CIA student work with the general public. Her financial support was also vital to CIA's Uptown Residence Hall, the opening of which represented a major moment in transforming CIA from a commuter college to a residential college.

Toby will be fondly remembered by many, but especially those of us at CIA. Further, her powerful advocacy, visionary leadership and unwavering passion for the arts will remain an inspiration for generations to come.

Grafton J. Nunes
President + CEO

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