4 Collect Awards in Annual Event Honoring Arts, Humanities Grad Students

Art Exhibition Runs Through June 24

Three award winners stand with museum in background at a ceremony June 6, 2024
Nitheen Ramalingam (art studio), Damien Mitchell (design) and April Camlin (art studio) pose with their awards distributed June 6 at the Arts & Humanities 2024 Graduate Exhibition held at the Manetti Shrem Museum. The participants’ final projects are on view through June 24. A fourth award winner is seen in a photograph below. (Hung Q. Pham Photography)


People dressed in black perform dance while an audience looks on in museum
ADRIFT-DRAFT is an improvised dance installation co-created by Eva Anderson and Ileanna Sophia Cheladyn. Dancers perform the dance at the Manetti Shrem Museum June 6 during the exhibition of graduate art, which featured all forms of art, including performance art. (Hung Q. Pham Photography)

Nearly 700 friends and families of UC Davis graduate students turned out for the opening of the Arts & Humanities 2024 Graduate Exhibition on June 6 at the Manetti Shrem Museum. This year’s multidisciplinary showcase included 25 students representing anthropology, art history, art studio, comparative literature, creative writing, design, English, and Spanish and Portuguese. 

Three graduate students in art studio and design were presented with awards that recognize their contributions to the discipline and help further their careers. Additionally, an Art Studio M.F.A. student, was awarded the first Letters & Science Prize for Excellence.

Woman in dress stands next to dark-complected man with award in hand with museum crowd in background
Former UC Davis Design Professor Ann Savageau stands with design awardee Damien Mitchell at the event June 6 after awards were presented. (Hung Q. Pham Photography) 

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan congratulated the students for their “remarkable work” in the exhibition that “represents our graduate students’ lived experiences and memories, often on a very personal level” as well as the faculty for their teaching and mentorship of this year’s graduates.

While the exhibition is required for art and design students, whose work occupies two galleries, final projects of M.A. and Ph.D. students were also on display and performed at the opening. 

The awards

April Camlin (art studio) was awarded the LeShelle & Gary May Art Purchase Prize by Department of Art and Art History Co-Chair Darrin Martin. Her large-scale tapestries and stand-alone installations combine hand-weaving and sculptural elements to help express grief and pain and also conjure resilience. 

Martin also awarded Nitheen Ramalingam (art studio) the Keister & Allen Art Purchase Prize, for his “Venmani martyr’s day, 2021” body of work that meditates on the 2021 commemoration of the Kilvenmani martyrs, juxtaposing the joyful unity of the peasantry with a gloomy undertone hinting at the movement’s decline.

About the awards

  • The Savageau Award is aimed at furthering the career of a graduating design M.F.A. and to encourage, recognize and celebrate creative and original contributions to the discipline of design. It is named for Ann Savageau, a professor in the design department from 2007 to 2014.  
  • The Keister & Allen Art Purchase Prize is awarded annually to a UC Davis graduating M.F.A. student in art studio. Thanks to the generosity of the donors, Shaun Keister and Walter Allen, this award ensures that one piece chosen from a student artist’s body of thesis work will be added to the university’s Fine Arts Collection each year.
  • Made possible through the generosity of Suzanne Hellmuth and Jock M. Reynolds (art studio, M.F.A. ’72), the LeShelle & Gary May Art Purchase Prize enables the museum to continue the tradition of purchasing graduate student work for the university’s Fine Arts Collection.
  • The Letters & Science Prize is a $2,500 annual prize for a graduating MFA student in Art Studio to help further the career of promising artists and to encourage, recognize and celebrate its recipient’s creative and original contributions. The prize was created in 2024 by L&S dean Estella Atekwana and is funded by the L&S Dean’s Office.


Damien Mitchell (design) was awarded The Savageau Award for Design. He created the display “Re/Pair: A Fusion of Handcraft and Digital Fabrication in Shoemaking.” Department of Design chair Simon Sadler presented the award. “The explorations of repairability are not only sophisticated as acts of material production, but also of cultural representation, craft and community-building,” Sadler said.

New award this year

Woman who won Letters and Science art award poses with Professor Darrin Martin
Art Studio M.F.A. Gracianne Kirsch was awarded the first Letters & Science Prize for Excellence. She is pictured here with Darrin Martin, co-chair of the Department of Art and Art History. (Hung Q. Pham Photography) 

A surprise award was also announced. Art Studio M.F.A. Gracianne Kirsch was awarded the first Letters & Science Prize for Excellence. Kirsch’s installation incorporates drawing and video, working at a queer and trans revision of time and space through reimagining familiar dwellings and bodily forms.

All of the art studio graduates, Martin said, “have brilliantly transformed the intangible into the tangible, creating a visual language for otherwise inexplicable experiences.”

The Arts & Humanities 2024 Graduate Exhibition is on view at the Manetti Shrem Museum through June 24. 


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