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News . Feature Stories . Davis, Blair, Gascoigne honored with Awards for Excellence

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June 12, 2023

Davis, Blair, Gascoigne honored with Awards for Excellence

From left is Dexter Davis ’90; presenter Nikki Woods ’12; President + CEO Kathryn J. Heidemann; Cynthia Prior Gascoigne; presenter Laura Ospanik ’80; and Douglas F. Kridler, who accepted on behalf of William Blair III. Photo by Amber N. Ford ’16.

By Michael C. Butz

The Cleveland Institute of Art bestowed its highest honor—the CIA Award for Excellence—to three community members who embody the creativity and dedication espoused by the College: artist and CIA alum Dexter Davis ’90, arts advocate William P. Blair III and CIA Board chair Cynthia Prior Gascoigne.

The 2023 Awards for Excellence were the first issued since 2019, following a three-year postponement due to the COVID pandemic. Family and friends of the recipients attended the April 27 ceremony. So did members of CIA’s Charles E. Burchfield Society, which honors the College’s most generous donors.

Davis earned the Award of Artistic Achievement, which honors artists with strong connections to CIA who’ve made a significant contribution to the visual arts locally, nationally or internationally by producing a substantial and noteworthy body of work.

In 2022, Davis debuted two significant projects in Cleveland: Color Me Boneface, a dual exhibition with frequent collaborator Robert Banks at moCa Cleveland, and The Less Dead, a landmark solo exhibition at CIA’s Reinberger Gallery as part of FRONT International: Cleveland’s Triennial for Contemporary Art. In The Less Dead, Davis transformed a moment of significant personal trauma into an opportunity for radical healing through art-making.

Blair (posthumously) and Gascoigne both received the Award for Service, which honors individuals and organizations that have supported and advanced art and design at the College through financial contributions, leadership and advocacy.

Blair’s passionate support and hard-fought advocacy for the arts spanned several Ohio General Assemblies and governors’ administrations. He was a friend to and advocate of CIA for many years, during which time he helped secure more than $7 million in funding.

Gascoigne has supported CIA for many years. She joined the Board of Directors in 2011 and soon chaired its Development Committee. She was named Board chair in 2016, and her leadership through strategic planning, the pandemic and the search for a new College president was exemplary.

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