More than 500 guests attended last night’s glamorous Pratt Institute’s 125th Anniversary celebration, which raised a record-breaking $1,070,000 through ticket sales at the Waldorf=Astoria. The Institute’s golden gala commemorated the alumni and faculty whose iconic works have shaped our world, and honored the Pratt Family, who have actively supported the Institute since its founding by Charles Pratt in 1887; Maximilian Josef Riedel, CEO of Riedel Crystal of North America; Julie Taymor, director of theater, opera, and film; and Kehinde Wiley, artist and contemporary portrait painter. Proceeds from the event benefit student scholarships.
In honor of the anniversary, the Empire State Building glowed gold last night, echoing Pratt's school colors of yellow and black as a tribute to the Institute, which has been a hub of artistic and cultural prominence in New York City for 125 years. Guests were also decked out in their finest black and gold.
Pratt Institute’s President Thomas F. Schutte kicked off the evening with welcome remarks followed by the Chair of Pratt’s Board of Trustees, Bruce Gitlin who gave a warm introduction to The Pratt Family and presented Mike Pratt with the first award of the evening.
Maximilian Josef Riedel accepted his award and acknowledged the talented students of Pratt Institute, with whom he has collaborated on behalf of the Riedel brand. He was presented his award by Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner.
In her acceptance remarks, Julie Taymor stressed the importance of institutions like Pratt in educating artists saying: “There is no soul of America without the arts. Without the arts we don't have a culture, a history. We're not human.” Jeffrey Horowitz, founder and artistic director of Theatre for a New Audience, presented Taymor her award.
As a tribute to Taymor’s illustrious career, T.V. Carpio, Dana Fuchs, and Martin Luther McCoy, stars of the Academy Award nominated film, Across the Universe, directed by Taymor, performed four Beatles’ songs from the film’s score during the gala.
In accepting his award Wiley said: “We have a responsibility to take the riches in front of us and tell the truth about what is out there.” He also placed Pratt students in a special category of artists saying “Artists at Pratt are a particularly rare breed. They are cooler than the students at the other schools.” Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons presented Wiley with the award.
Undergraduate photography student Kevin Truong also participated in the evening's speaking program, bringing some event guests to tears and all of the guests to their feet with a standing ovation after he described the world he grew up in — at a refugee camp in Malaysia — to the world he lives in now — attending “one of the finest art and design schools in the world in New York City.”
Truong stressed the importance of scholarships in his life and noted that he had received nearly $100,000 in scholarships to pursue his dream of becoming a photographer. “You want to believe that when you're chasing your dream the last thing you should worry about is money, but to be very honest and blunt that is the first thing you worry about. Pratt has eased that burden, and because of that, here I am, about to graduate and take the next steps in living this dream of being a grand photographer in New York City.”
Honorees were presented an award designed by undergraduate industrial design student Casey Daurio, who was on hand to celebrate Pratt’s 125th as a student scholarship recipient. Jared Bell, an undergraduate communications design student, was also recognized as having designed Pratt’s 125th anniversary logo.
This year’s gala also included the unveiling of works to be featured in “125 Icons,” a new exhibition in honor of the institute’s anniversary featuring the most iconic works by Pratt alumni and faculty as voted on by members of the public. The exhibition will open to the public at Pratt Manhattan Gallery on November 30th and will run through January 2013.
Guests included Pamela P. Auchincloss, arts advocate, philanthropist, and Pratt family member; Hamish Bowles, International Editor at Large of Vogue; Arlene Dahl, actress; Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, writer, activist, television interviewer/producer and former White House assistant; Helmut Jahn, architect; Ed Koren, alumnus and illustrator for The New Yorker; Fern Mallis, creator of New York Fashion Week, former executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and former senior vice president of IMG Fashion; Juan Montoya, interior designer; Carrie Moyer, alumna and artist; Tom Otterness, sculptor; Sheila Pepe, Pratt faculty member and artist; Sylvia Plachy, alumna and photographer for The Village Voice; Karim Rashid, industrial designer and former Pratt faculty member; Marc Rosen, Pratt alumnus, faculty member, Trustee, and designer; Hal Rubenstein, fashion director of InStyle; Stefan Sagmeister, alumnus and renowned graphic designer; Christiane Siedel, actress on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire; and Danny Simmons, painter and founder and president of Rush Arts Gallery.
Past Legends Awards recipients include Laurie Anderson, Ralph Appelbaum, Dale Chihuly, Fleur Cowles, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Michele Oka Doner, Cathy Hardwick, Tommy Hilfiger, Al Hirschfeld, Marc Jacobs, Helmut Jahn, Ellsworth Kelly, Emily Fisher Landau, Kenneth Lane, Naomi Leff, John Loring, Peter Marino, Mary McFadden, Richard Meier, Juan Montoya, Takashi Murakami, Beverly Pepper, Karim Rashid, Stanford Richards, Joan Rivers, David Rockwell, James Rosenquist, Julian Schnabel, Robert Siegel, Victor Skrebneski, Patti Smith, Barbara Tober, Pauline Trigère, Emanuel Ungaro, Bruce Weber, William Wegman, Stephan Weiss, Reba White Williams and Dave Williams, Robert Wilson, and Eva Zeisel. Past Corporate Legends include Lawrence Herbert, Pantone, Inc; Joseph Pacifico, CulinArt, Inc.; and Philip Morris.