September 5, 2012

James Suits wins 2012 SUNY Thayer Fellowship

Head shot of James Suits 2012 winner of SUNY Thayer Fellowship

James Suits

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Sept. 7, 2012) James Suits, a student of fine arts at SUNY Empire State College, has been named the winner in the visual arts category of the State University of New York’s Thayer Fellowship.

“The Thayer Fellowship and Patricia K. Ross Award allow SUNY to honor some of our most creative arts students and provide them with financial assistance to support their ongoing work,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, who announced the awards .“Congratulations to both of these talented SUNY students for winning such prestigious and competitive awards.”

Each year, a Thayer Fellowship in the amount of $7,000 is awarded to one student, or shared among several students, who demonstrate outstanding achievement and high professional potential in the arts. The Patricia Kerr Ross Award for $1,000 is given to a student, or shared among several students, who have demonstrated excellence, originality and promise in the arts. Both awards are intended to be a bridge between SUNY study in the arts and entry into a professional career in the arts.

“James Suits creates impressive photography and I congratulate him on winning the prestigious Thayer Fellowship,” said college Acting President Meg Benke. “James is an outstanding representative of the college’s talented students and I wish him continued success in his academic and artistic careers.”

"I am very excited and honored to have won the Thayer award," said Suits. "This whole process has been educational and I am looking forward to continuing with my photography. I am thankful to the faculty at Empire State College who nominated me for this award and have mentored me along the way."

The Syracuse-based Suits was nominated by his primary advisor Alan Stankiewicz, and supporting material was submitted by Yvonne Murphy, associate professor of arts at the college. 

High Point art by 2012 Thayer Fellowship winner James Suits

High Point, New Jersey state highpoint, 2010 by James Suits

“As his mentor for the past two years I have worked closely with James, both in constructing his degree plan and in working with him on several studies in the arts and photography,” says Stankiewicz. “James Suits’ photography is an extension of his every day. Receiving the Thayer Fellowship will allow him to move substantially forward with several of his current projects. The work he has done through SUNY Empire State College, Central New York Center, informs his images, and we as a center celebrate his work."

"We are very proud of James," noted Nikki Shrimpton, a dean at SUNY Empire State College "We are glad that the James' talents, which we know well, are now recognized by SUNY"

Tri-state border marker of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, 2010 by James Suits

Suits’ body of work, "360 Degrees: Landscapes in Panorama,” is a collection Stankiewicz describes as “unexpected or lesser-known landscapes,” featuring historic, geographical and environmental highlights.

For example, his images spotlight the highest elevation in several states, where two or three states come together, and landmarks like Stonehenge and Denali National Park.

Suits reinforces his subject by his choice of format. Many of his works are presented in a landscape format measuring anywhere from 8 inches by 6 feet to 8 inches by 34 feet. 

During the college’s 40th anniversary year in 2011, Suits served as the photographer for a project titled 40@40, profiling outstanding alumni.  This work was also part of his nomination packet.

Suits will be recognized as the 2012 Thayer Fellowship recipient at an event at the college's Syracuse location on Oct. 24.  At that time, some of his award-winning work will be displayed and he will discuss his approach to art.

About the Thayer Fellowship

The Thayer Fellowship was established in 1985-86 by the late Walter N. Thayer, chairman of Whitney Communications, New York City, in honor of his wife, Jeanne C. Thayer, a SUNY trustee from 1974 to 1984 and an active supporter of the arts. The Thayers wanted to assist SUNY's most talented young artists at the most difficult period of time for a young professional, when the struggle to make a living can overwhelm even the most dedicated individual. The fellowship helps the artist take advantage of important opportunities.

Nearly 100 applications for the awards are received each year. The applications are evaluated by a panel of experts in the various arts disciplines. The finalists are then interviewed in person by the panel, and their work is reviewed during performances, readings, screenings and exhibitions. At the end of this process, the jury panel determines the winner.


Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918

Media Contact

David M. Henahan, Director of Communications
518-587-2100, ext. 2918

(after 5 p.m. and weekends)

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