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May 15, 2014

Money for the road: Cleveland Institute of Art students receive unusual scholarships for travel, study after graduation

New grads really going places with CIA’s Presidential Traveling Scholarships

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ann McGuire
Director of Communications


CLEVELAND, Ohio – Six remarkable members of the Class of 2014 plan to visit parts of the world ranging from the nuclear-disaster area of Chernobyl, Ukraine, to the outback of Australia as winners of the Cleveland Institute of Art’s annual President’s Traveling Scholarships. The unique cash awards promote new graduates’ artistic growth by allowing them to visit places of essential influence on their work, whether abroad or at home.

Rachel Yurkovich, a 2010 graduate of Riverside School of Prague, in the Czech Republic, has earned the First Agnes Gund Traveling Award, CIA’s top prize, which comes with an award of $4,500. The Second and Third Agnes Gund Traveling Awards were granted to Pacific Palisades, California native Emily Hunziker, and Canfield, Ohio native and 2010 Canfield High School graduate Nicole Mehle respectively. Each will also receive $4,500.

Christina Watterson, a drawing major and 2009 graduate of Worthington Christian High School, has merited the $4,000 Helen Greene Perry Traveling Scholarship, while 2010 Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School graduate Megan Fuchs has won the $3,500 Mary C. Page Memorial Scholarship. The $3,000 Nancy Dunn Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to North Royalton, Ohio native Benjamin Horvat, who is also a drawing major.

“CIA’s Traveling Scholarships were endowed many years ago by generous benefactors,” explained CIA President Grafton J. Nunes. “This is a wonderful tradition that, every year, allows a very select group of CIA graduates to pursue their interests beyond Ohio.”

The winners’ art-related travel plans reflect not only the diversity of their interests, but also the breadth and depth of CIA’s curriculum.

Yurkovich, who majored in both sculpture and painting, creates artwork that addresses the effects of human activity on the natural world, including on people themselves. She anticipates using her First Agnes Gund award to travel to Ukraine, where she will observe the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on the local environment. A former resident of the Republic of Macedonia and of the Czech Republic, she praised the atmosphere of artistic freedom she has encountered at CIA, noting that “material is the most important thing to me and I need to be genuine to the material,” including the actual plants and animals she uses in videos.

The natural world also strongly influences the jewelry that Hunziker makes, as does her interest in luxurious ritual objects, such as cups and crowns used in celebrations. She unites the two by creating beautiful objects that speak to origins, both natural and cultural. Fittingly, she plans to visit England, specifically its fabulous Crown Jewels collection in the Tower of London and the tremendous archives of decorative craft pieces in the Victoria and Albert Museum, she said.

It was the Jewelry + Metals Department that attracted Hunziker to CIA from her home city outside of Los Angeles, she noted. “Not many schools have a jewelry-and-metals program,” said the 2010 graduate of Palisades Charter High School.

Horvat also found CIA uniquely suited to the development of his own art form: fine-art drawings inspired by the science of subatomic particles, especially the wave patterns of electron diffraction. He plans to use his award to travel to the Swiss-French border near Geneva to visit CERN, the famed European Organization for Nuclear Research facility housing the Large Hadron Collider, where such particles are smashed together so scientists can learn about matter, energy and the origins of the universe.

While at CIA, “I had a radical change of mindset,” said Horvat, who switched from 3-D animation and illustration – including design work at Cleveland’s NASA Glenn facility – to drawing after his first year. “I wanted to help people look deeply at things…the hidden sciences that affect us every day,” the 2010 North Royalton High School graduate said.

Fuchs, whose enamel and metal work – from jewelry to abstract images and sculptural objects – is inspired by the out-of-doors, will visit Australia and New Zealand in order to experience unfamiliar terrain and life forms, and aid in conservation efforts. She hopes the resulting work she creates might “cause my audience to question their own personal relationship with nature,” she detailed in her proposal, “and create a higher awareness of … the moments of breathtaking awe and wonderment that exist in almost every hidden corner of our everyday lives.”

Inspired by the decorative patterns of Islamic art, Mehle, a painting major, plans to go to Andalusia in Spain, a Moorish region where western and eastern cultures meet, creating the kind of opposition her art explores. “Islamic patterning, like my work, is chaotic and ordered, simple and complex, and geometric and organic,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “Most importantly, Islamic patterns function to lead the viewers to some kind of spiritual understanding. … I want to understand how this experience happens in order to apply it to my art.”

The young artist’s visit to Andalusia will include Seville, Cordoba and Granada, a short visit to Tangier, Morocco, that will immerse her in Islamic art, and conclude in Madrid, where she hopes to gain insight into Spain’s contemporary art scene.

Of the six winners, only Watterson will find adventure within the U.S., traveling by Greyhound bus around all 50 states to get a road-route view of America’s regional and cultural patterns. The point of her travels, she explained in her proposal, is to recreate an experience she had in Costa Rica, where using the bus allowed her to see nuances of that culture.

“Traveling by bus allowed me to easily see shifts in not only landscape, but also sudden and subtle changes in class and industry within cities and across the country,” Watterson wrote. She plans to keep a journal of her trips in expectation of producing a book of writing and drawings about her U.S. experience.

CIA’s Traveling Scholarships represent the college’s commitment to helping students explore outside the classroom and studio, as well as within. Rare among American colleges, the scholarships are won annually by members of the CIA senior class, selected by a faculty committee through a competitive process based on applicants’ achievements in artwork and on the quality of the detailed travel-project proposal that each must submit.

To see a list of all of the past winners of CIA’s annual President’s Traveling Scholarships, click here.

About CIA

Founded in 1882, the Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design offering 15 majors in studio art, digital art, craft disciplines, and design. CIA extends its programming to the public through gallery exhibitions; lectures; a robust continuing education program; and the Cinematheque, a year-round art and independent film program. CIA’s public programming is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. For more information visit


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