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The Department of Art announces the 2022 Hamblet Award Recipients

Posted by on Monday, April 18, 2022 in News and Events.

The Department of Art at Vanderbilt University is proud to annouce the recipients of the 2022 the Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award and Merit Award.

Every spring, the senior art majors finish their senior year experience installing their thesis exhibitions in Space 204, the contemporary art gallery located in the E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center, the home of the Vanderbilt University Department of Art.

The students who mount their exhibitons are given the opportunity to compete for two grants made possible by the Margaret Stonewall Woodridge Hamblet Endowment. This competition is a three part process – a written proposal, an exhibition of works, and interviews with a panel of jurors.

The 2022 Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award Recipient

Navya Thakkar, 2022 recipient of the Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award, with her thesis exhibition, “who should i be?”; Space 204 Gallery

Navya Thakkar is the recipient of the 2022 Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award. Thakkar will recieve a $25,000 prize to fund her travels, research, and art making for the next year and half – culminating in Thakkar’s return to Space 204 with a solo exhibition.

Thakkar’s thesis exhibition who should I be? investigates her cultural identity and how she navigates the world from multiple perspectives: Indian. Hindu. Gujarati. Lohana. Thakkar. Mumbaikar. Woman. Immigrant. International student. Thakkar writes about her work:

“These are all identities and labels I acquired while growing up in Mumbai, India. They represent a large part of who I am, and who I can be. However, these identities also lay at the crux of the part of myself I don’t quite understand yet. A part of myself that is frequently in flux, struggling to integrate my origin within my sense of self.”

Her exhibiton is compiled of several techniques from printmaking and book arts culimnating in an multi-faceted artist book and wall installation of the remnants from the making process of the artist keep a copy of her artist book for themselves.

Navya Thakkar was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She currently attends Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, TN, studying Biology and Studio Art. Growing up in a household with an interior designer, Thakkar has always had a love for the creative arts.

The 2022 Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Merit Award

Sierra Elise Driver (2022 Hamblet Merit Award recipient) with her exhibition “Black Joy” in Space 204 Gallery.

Sierra Elise Driver is the recipient of the 2022 Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Merit Award. Driver will recieve a $10,000 prize.

Driver’s thesis exhibition Black Joy is research approach to archives and the search for “black joy” within locally and nationally established image archives. Driver writes:

“A simple search for ‘black joy’ in most photo archives produces zero results. A simple search for ‘african american joy’ in most photo archives produces zero results. A simple search for ‘african american’ in most photo archives produces hundreds to thousands of results, majority of which relate to historical mistreatment of blacks in the United States. The disproportionate number of these photos compared to a scarcity of black joy in public photo archives suggests an institutional narrative, that black life in America is synonymous with hardship and struggle.”

She describes her project/exhibiton as a curated collection of photographic prints labeled as “black joy,” a search term absent from archives. With her installation, Driver advocates for an all-encompassing visual narrative of the African American experience. Her definition of “black joy” includes the intimate, familiar, mundane moments of serendipity and nonchalance, happiness, beauty, and celebration found in black daily life.

Elise Driver is a Nashville native artist, whose artistic practice focuses on digital photography, visual media production, and design. Art classes at Vanderbilt introduced her to her preferred medium, photography, as well as video art, drawing, and installation.

This year’s competition was juried by Nicole Pietrantoni, Laleh Mehran, and Rodrigo Valenzuela.

Keep It Together! Senior Show 2022 brings together the thesis exhibitions of ten graduation senior art majors: Josanda Addo, Liv Donofrio, Sierra Elise Driver, Olivia Forrester, Adeliza Grace, Cat LeMaster, Mariam Waldi Fuad Ismael Nadi, Erica J. Jeshow Skidmore, Navya Thakkar, and Sigrid Yu.

You can experience all ten exhibitions in Space 204 until May 13, 2022. Regular gallery hours are Monday thru Friday 10am to 4pm. Space 204 is located in the E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center, the home of the Vanderbilt University Department of Art.

The exhibitions can also be experience virtually by visiting the Keep It Together! Senior Show 2022 exhibition website:

About the Hamblet Award

Established in 1984, the Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award has changed the lives of many of the recipients as well as helped to build the studio art program at Vanderbilt. The gift allows a graduating senior, who is serious about pursuing art, to travel and have time to create. In 1984, this was a surprising gift to a department without an art major although many students did thoughtful and interesting work over the years. Receiving the Hamblet Award gave most of the students the confidence and the time to build a body of work, to pursue graduate degrees, or to develop their own art studios.

In 2005, with new facilities, additional faculty and support from the administration, Vanderbilt began to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art. The Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award became an important element in the development of our art major. The competition and the accompanying art exhibition have created a capstone experience for our seniors serving as a natural extension of a senior thesis. The gift also enriches the senior major experience throughout the entire senior year, with guest artist visits as well as an art-viewing trip to a city with a vibrant art community for all the majors.

A year and a half after graduation, the winner of the Hamblet competition returns to campus to mount a solo exhibition of the work he or she has completed during the award year. Happily, in 2002, the department was able to add a merit award as well. The Department of Art is grateful to the Hamblet family for providing such a remarkable opportunity for our students.

~ Marilyn Murphy
Professor of Art Emeriti
Vanderbilt University Department of Art