Nine Seniors Share Sudler Prize in the Arts

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The annual Hop arts awards ceremony celebrated 120 student artists.

Taylor Mac speaking at a podium
Award-winning playwright and theater artist Taylor Mac headlined the annual Arts at Dartmouth Awards Ceremony. (Photo by Ben DeFlorio)

The Hopkins Center for the Arts last week hosted the Arts at Dartmouth Awards Ceremony—an annual tradition that recognizes the accomplishments of undergraduate musicians, film and media producers, visual artists, theater performers, dancers, and other participants in the arts.

The Loew Auditorium ceremony, headlined by actor, playwright, and performer Taylor Mac, celebrated 120 individual student artists (PDF). 

"These awards represent an ongoing commitment of Dartmouth to the arts, and I can tell you that tonight the future of the arts has never looked brighter," President Sian Leah Beilock told the award recipients. 

Most of the recipients knew beforehand which award they were receiving, but each year the Sudler Prize in the Arts—awarded to a graduating student who "has made an indelible mark on Dartmouth through creative and performing arts," according to Mary Lou Aleskie, the Howard Gilman '44 Executive Director of the Hopkins Center—is announced as a surprise.

Students receiving the Sudler Prize in the Arts
From left, Ramsey Ash '24, Mateo Oyola '24, Jason Pak '24, Theodore Castellani '23, Valeria Pereira Quintero '24, C.J. Henrich '24, Will Tarnowski '24, and Polina Chesnokova '24 were awarded the Sudler Prize in the Arts along with Paul Nichols '23, who was not present. (Photo by Ben DeFlorio)

This year's Sudler announcement was a little different—a nine-way tie between Ramsey Ash '24, Theodore Castellani '23, Polina Chesnokova '24, C.J. Henrich '24, Paul Nichols '23, Mateo Oyola '24, Jason Pak '24, Valeria Pereira Quintero '24, and William Tarnowski '24. Each will receive a $2,000 cash prize.

Aleskie said that in deciding to split the award among nine students, the selection committee considered the full context of their contributions to the arts at Dartmouth, which began at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Members of this graduating class arrived at Dartmouth without graduation or prom, began their artistic work in tents, were welcomed back into a building spaced six feet apart, and made art and persevered," even as the Hop continues to undergo a major expansion and renewal, Aleskie said. 

She introduced Mac as "an incomparable theater artist unveiling queer histories and joy that builds community across boundaries."

Mac, in turn, called the ritual of award-giving in the arts "beautiful" but also "absurd, because as we know, some of the best things that happened this year were not seen by anyone who was responsible for giving out the awards," and offered students a different set of "awards" in the form of advice to aspiring artists.

"The best award I ever got was some advice" from the British raconteur Quentin Crisp, Mac said. "He said to me, 'Taylor, find out who you are without praise or blame, and be it.' What does that mean? Your mom might be like, 'You're such a good singer.' Doesn't mean anything. Your archnemesis or someone on social media might say, 'You're a bad singer.' Doesn't mean anything. Are you a singer? If you are, go be it. Find out who you are without praise or blame, and go be it. So that's my award to you."

Mary Lou Aleskie presenting Valeria Pereira Quintero with her share of the Sudler Prize
Mary Lou Aleskie, the Howard Gilman '44 Executive Director of the Hopkins Center, presents Valeria Pereira Quintero '24 with her share of the Sudler Prize. (Photo by Ben DeFlorio)

Mac is creator or co-creator of Bark of Millions, The Hang, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, Prosperous Fools, The Fre, Hir, The Walk Across America for Mother Earth, The Lily's Revenge, The Young Ladies Of, Red Tide Blooming, The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac, Comparison Is Violence, Holiday Sauce, and The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville.

In addition to being a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and receiving a Tony nomination for best play, Mac's (nonadvice-based) awards include the International Ibsen Award—the first given to an American—a MacArthur Fellowship, the Kennedy Prize, the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and two Obies, among many others.

This year's arts awards recipients are listed in the awards ceremony program (PDF), and the event was livestreamed.