First annual Arts Division emeriti awards honor Chip Lord and Lewis Watts

Art alumna Alyssa Cuellar, emeriti art professor Lewis Watts, and current art student Bran

Art alumna Alyssa Cuellar, emeritus art professor Lewis Watts, and current art student Brandon Pritzkat

Emeritus film and digital media professor Chip Lord (left), and professor Warren Sack

Emeritus film and digital media professor Chip Lord (left), and professor Warren Sack

An image of iconic art history emertus professor Jasper Rose looks over the crowd (courtes

An image of iconic art history emeritus professor Jasper Rose looks over the crowd (courtesy of Special Collections).

Photographer Lewis Watts (Art Department) and media artist Chip Lord (Film and Digital Media) were honored at an inaugural luncheon to recognize the contributions of emeriti faculty in building the programs, reputation, and physical structures of the Arts Division. 

Acting Arts Dean Martin Berger presented Watts with the "Outstanding Mentorship Award" for his remarkable dedication to undergraduate teaching.

“Several years before I met Lewis, I already knew that he was a gifted and dedicated teacher,” said Berger. 

“I had made it a point of attending the annual Irwin Awards ceremony in the Art Department at which students have the opportunity to make brief remarks. Year after year, I heard Lewis thanked at the event by multiple students for the profound effect he had on their art and careers. It was obvious to me that here was a teacher who was doing everything right."

Art alumna Alyssa Cuellar paid tribute to Watts’s mentorship, noting how he gives voice to both students in his classes and disempowered groups in his photographs.

“I used to say, ‘I want to be like Lewis when I grow up,’ said Cuellar in her remarks. “I’ve never met an artist whose work I appreciate as much as their company.”

“There are a multitude of qualities that make Lewis a wonderful professor,” she added. “Paramount to my experience here, and my growth as an artist, is how you fostered a learning environment where your students felt first and foremost as artists.

"At a time in our lives when it was very easy to feel unimportant, you made me and my peers feel as if our voices--and perhaps more importantly our work--truly mattered.”

Current art major Brandon Pritzkat described the safe space Watts created for student experimentation, plus the validation he offered undergraduates through his belief that they have important stories to tell.

“His work about African-Americans in culture and history within the United States is culturally important for many different people, especially the African-American community,” Pritzkat added. “My most impactful course was Lewis’s class Picturing Identity. This was the most important class I’ve taken; he was able to talk about something very real.”

Chip Lord was presented with the “Outstanding Post-Retirement Research Award.”

Associate film and digital media professor Rick Prelinger paid tribute to Lord, offering a brief survey of his work and career.

Prelinger reminded the audience that although Lord is internationally known primarily for two works of art--Cadillac Ranch (1974) and Media Burn (1975), his recent work extends the artist’s concerns for media and the environment by addressing the unique challenges we face in 21st-century America.

Berger emphasized that point as well, adding that Lord is truly an original thinker.

"I have long taught Chip's artwork to my history of art students, knowing that they would appreciate his playful and probing work,” added Berger. ”It's become clear to me, however, that rather than seeing his early artwork as a mere reflection of 1960s or 1970s culture, they view it as relevant to the issues of today. To have created work 40 years ago that still speaks to the concerns of contemporary audiences is a remarkable achievement."

Berger noted that creating an annual recognition lunch is a way of forging closer ties with former faculty and drawing them more directly into the UC Santa Cruz arts community.  He highlighted the contributions of the various arts emeriti faculty in attendance, including music professor Linda Burman-Hall, former arts dean Ed Houghton, and art historian Virginia Jansen.