August 29, 2022
By Jordan Berkovitz
CIA fondly remembers three notable community members who recently passed: Toby Devan Lewis, Alberta Cifolelli ’53 and Suzanne Mars ’90.
Lewis, a longtime Board of Directors member and friend of CIA, was an international patron to the arts. The Toby Lewis Media Mesh on CIA’s western façade shares still and moving images of student work with the public. Her financial support was also vital to CIA’s Uptown Residence Hall, the opening of which represented a major milestone in transforming CIA from a commuter school to a residential college.
She received a CIA Medal for Excellence in 2007 and was awarded an honorary degree in 2012. Lewis will be remembered for her powerful advocacy, visionary leadership and unwavering passion for the arts.
“Lewis’ generosity was deeply felt at CIA, as she sponsored a trip for students in the Painting department to visit the inaugural Prospect New Orleans Biennial. This trip was an absolute pivot point in the way I viewed art in the world,” says Painting alum William Laughlin ’10.
Sculpture alum Andy Yoder ’82 also remembers Lewis fondly. “I’ve yet to meet anyone who matched Toby’s passion for contemporary art, and I doubt I ever will,” he says. “Her energy and commitment to finding provocative, challenging work by artists, both new and established, was a force of nature.”
Cifolelli graduated with a degree in Painting and later became a CIA faculty member. Both a painter and printmaker, Cifolelli had a long career exhibiting her art throughout the United States and Japan. Her work has been shown in more than 50 solo exhibitions and is in more than 300 public collections.
In 2017, she was honored as one of 18 Distinguished Alumni, and in 2018 she received the Charles Burchfield Award for Artistic Achievement. During her time as a CIA student, she worked closely with Julian Stanczak ’54 and Richard Anuszkiewicz ’53.
“Alberta would always join [Stanczak and Anuszkeiwicz] for openings and they would argue about arts ’til late into the night,” says professor emerita Barbara Stanzcak ’90. “Alberta would often feel outdone by the ‘boys’ who chose geometry as their basic forms while she chose experiences in nature as her focus in art. She stood her ground feisty and eloquently! She always supported me as a friend and colleague, and I am thankful for her strength and fighting spirit.”
Mars, a former CIA Board member, graduated from CIA’s Industrial Design program, where she combined her interests in science and art to develop a practice of designing products for elderly people. During her last year as a student, she held a design research internship in the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Musculoskeletal Research, and months later, an exhibition of her work was hosted by the medical center.
During her career, she created and held several patents for products to aid those with disabilities.
“I always admired her as a fearless and successful creative at a time when entry for women in her field was very restricted,” says former CIA Board member Charna Sherman. “She was a true trailblazer. She never forgot her indebtedness to CIA for the extraordinary education, foundation and support that helped launch her success.”
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