Morrison, architecture alumni honored by Arts and Letters academy
By Daniel Aloi
Writer Toni Morrison, M.A. ’55, has been chosen to receive the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ highest honor for excellence in the arts. Three Cornell architecture alumni have also been named to receive 2019 Architecture Awards.
Morrison earned the Gold Medal for Fiction. Two Gold Medals, in rotating categories in the arts, are awarded each year to those who have achieved eminence in an entire body of work.
“Toni Morrison has, over the years, shaken us out of the ruts of our ordinary perspective. She has allowed us to walk through various shades of the national experience, always incisively, provocatively, generously,” the Academy said of Morrison, who was elected to the academy in 1981 and has written 11 novels.
Eric Höweler, B.Arch. ’94, M.Arch. ’96, and J. Meejin Yoon, B.Arch. ’95, share an Arts and Letters Award in Architecture in the category of “architects whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction.” Yoon is the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell.
The founding partners of Höweler + Yoon “are extraordinary architects, thinkers and teachers,” juror Tod Williams said, adding that their practice founded in 2005 has grown to produce “some of the most formally innovative and beautifully crafted work today.”
Their other honors include the 2016 American Architecture Prize for Shadow Play in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Collier Memorial at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Anne Rieselbach also received an Arts and Letters Award in Architecture. The program director at the Architectural League of New York since 1986, she studied the history of architecture and urban development as a graduate student at Cornell from 1979-83.
Current A.D. White Professor-at-Large Wynton Marsalis is one of four composers receiving Arts and Letters Awards in Music, recognizing outstanding artistic achievement and “composers who have arrived at their own voice.”
Award recipients are chosen by members of the Academy, an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers and writers.
The awards will be presented at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial, May 23 in New York City.
Work by the honorees including works on paper, architectural models and renderings will be shown in the 2019 Ceremonial Exhibition, on display from May 23 to June 16 at the Academy galleries on Audubon Terrace in Washington Heights, New York City. It is free and open to the public.