The 2023 Legends Gala raises vital funds for student scholarships
On Thursday, November 9, the Pratt Institute held its Legendary Gala, an annual scholarship gala that pays tribute to icons of art, design, and architecture, and serves as a fundraiser for scholarships that prioritize diversity, inclusion, and equal access to education. This year, three distinguished Pratt alumni—renowned furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpo, visionary architect Edward Mazria, and celebrated artist Kay Walking Stick—were honored at Brooklyn’s historic Wellen, with more than 200 guests gathering for the celebratory occasion. Nearly 80 percent of Pratt students receive financial aid to pursue their educational and creative ambitions.
The evening opened with a lively performance by the Brooklyn United Music and Arts Marching Band and dance team. In her welcoming remarks, Pratt President Frances Brunet highlighted the importance of creativity, interdisciplinary collaboration and the role of education in addressing global challenges, while celebrating the achievements and contributions of Pratt alumni, faculty and students. “Our role as academics is to support our students intellectually and emotionally, so that they have the capacity to take risks and resolve for a just future,” she said. “They will build lives filled with responsible creativity and positive impact.”
Board of Trustees Chairman Gary Hatem followed President Brunet Fifth-year architecture student Katherine Chattergon ’24 has been announced as the legendary student speaker for 2023. Chattergon spoke about her personal journey, from her childhood dreams of becoming an architect to her attendance at Pratt, and facing adversity with the support of what she called “an amazing community.” “My time here not only allowed me to realize my dreams, but also taught me the power of advocacy, leadership, and the transformative impact of design,” Chatterjohn said. “As I stand in my final year, I am grateful for the opportunities, relationships, and invaluable lessons. Pratt is more than just a school. It is a collective force that believes in the power of creativity to create just and equitable change. Together, we have the power to design a better world into existence. Thank you Pratt for Dreams The challenges and the journey.
The event included a call to action led by Charlotte van der Cock, vice president and contemporary art specialist at Sotheby’s. The audience actively participated in the call to support the next generation of creative leaders.
The awards ceremony began with Patty Carpenter, Director of Carpenter+, presenting the 2023 Legend Award to alumni and accomplished furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpo. “This award is a tribute to the foundation that Pratt gave me, the support of my family, and the collaborative efforts of a dedicated community. It honors not only my journey, but also the contributions of Pratt alumni, the sacrifices of my late father, and the inspiration of my mother,” Cobonpo said. “My work, accomplished with dedication My team, is dedicated to Southeast Asian designers seeking recognition. I share this honor with them, my family, my business partner, and the artisans who bring my designs to life. Congratulations to my fellow award recipients. I hope that our commitment to our profession is reflected in the impact we make.
College of Architecture Dean Kilian Riano presented the 2023 Legend Award to Edward Mazria, a Pratt alumnus and visionary architect. Mazria was unable to attend the event, but spoke to the audience via video message. His niece, Marissa Mazria Katz, accepted the award on his behalf. “My uncle Edward Mazria’s journey towards sustainable design began by chance, which led to the laying of the foundation Passive solar energy book“, which has sold more than a million copies worldwide,” shared Mazria Katz. “Today, in Brooklyn, we celebrate his commitment to addressing the global climate crisis — a testament to the transformative impact Pratt has had in shaping individuals dedicated to a better, more habitable world.”
David W. Binney, associate director of museum scholarship at the National Museum of the American Indian, presented the 2023 Legend Award to painter and alumna Kay Walkingstick, noting her artistic journey, from her early days as a painter to her transformative experiences at Pratt, her significant contributions to abstract art, and her constant reinvention as an artist Explores themes of indigenous people, landscape, and the human experience. WalkingStick referred to her journey to graduate school at Pratt as a wonderful and rewarding experience. “Pratt opened doors for me that might not have been opened otherwise. I would never have taught at Cornell if I hadn’t gotten this degree. But there were other things, and they were primarily artistic; it was about making art, thinking about “Art, developing art, putting art in context, which is what I got from Pratt. I got a really good education and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Each winner was presented with a Legend Award designed by Jessica Yan Chen, BID ’24, and manufactured under the supervision of Dana D’Amico, adjunct assistant professor of industrial design. A short video showing her design process was shared at the event.
President Brunet concluded the evening’s celebrations with a message of thanks and congratulations. “You all embody the values we seek to instill and enhance in our students, and your careers and work are truly inspiring,” she said. “Your generosity and abilities are extraordinary. We hope you will carry on the honor of being a Pratt Legend, and display your beautiful Legend Award with pride.