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2021 Legacy Award Recipients


We are thrilled to announce the 2021 recipients of the College of Fine and Applied Arts (FAA) Legacy Awards. The Legacy Awards recognize college alumni and friends who have demonstrated courage, curiosity, and passion in their work.


Distinguished Legacy Awards


Catherine M. Bleck (BFA ’78 Graphic Design)
Catherine Bleck, recipient of the School of Art & Design’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award, migrated from her early career as a graphic designer at the Chicago Tribune to an internationally respected visual artist. Catherine’s work was featured in two American art museum solo exhibitions in 2008 at The New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut and The Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio. Catherine has been exhibited in over seventy exhibitions internationally and archived and displayed in the collections of The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Butler Institute of American Art, The New Britain Museum of American Art, The Library of Congress, Bonfoey Gallery in Cleveland, Yves LaRoche Gallery in Montreal, and Enid Lawson Gallery in London. Her artwork has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, The New Republic, Sony Records, Warner Bros., and Motown Records, as well as the U. S. State Department’s Earth Day and World Ocean Day Images. She has also lectured internationally, conducted workshops, written for art magazines, and been featured in many art and design magazines.

Dina Griffin (BSAS '86 Architecture)
Dina Griffin, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects since 2018, has over 25 years of experience in the practice of architecture. She is currently the president of Interactive Design Architects (IDEA), a Chicago-based firm that has collaborated on prestigious projects such as The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Barack Obama Presidential Center. Dina was the principal architect on the contemporary design of the new Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Dina was recently awarded the Illinois Medal of Architecture which was established to recognize Illinois Architecture alumni that exhibit a lifetime of professional dedication and excellence in the practice of Architecture.

Ralph Johnson (BSAS ’71 Architecture)
Ralph Johnson grew up on the South Side of Chicago, just down the street from Frank Lloyd Wright’s R.W. Evans House. Finding the design of the house fascinating, he decided to become an architect at a very young age. Ralph was the first in his family to go to college. He started his career by doing industrial architecture for Chicago’s famous stockyards. Ralph eventually went on to design some of the most iconic buildings in Chicago and around the world including 100 North Riverside Plaza and the Shanghai Natural History Museum. He was inducted in 2015 into the prestigious National Academy of Design. Outside of architecture, Ralph takes inspiration from minimalist art of the 1960s. He lives by the philosophy that the best thing anyone can do is learn from their toughest challenges.


Emerging Legacy Awards


Sarah M. Bassett (MUP ’13 Urban Planning)
Sarah Bassett has expanded upon the tradition of storytelling within urban planning to embrace media and technology as a way to create connections to places and people. Her work as a storyteller and planner has spanned diverse contexts including communities grappling with mass incarceration in North Carolina; feuding public housing complexes in Brooklyn, New York; and Bedouin nomads in Israel’s Negev desert. After graduating from Illinois as a NEURUS fellow, Sarah worked as a practicing urban planner at AECOM in both North Carolina and New York and as a Senior Urban Planner for Hatch Urban Solutions + Smart Cities in New York. Sarah also worked as a Housing Coordinator in Chicago where she focused on placement strategies for Chicago communities impacted by the foreclosure crisis. Through her work as Founder and Director of Urbanism at People’s Culture, Sarah has developed new storytelling techniques that give her community collaborators new ways to share, connect, and plan.

Juri Seo (DMA ’13 Music)
Juri Seo has risen to national prominence as one of the leading young composers in the United States. Her highly imaginative and inventive music spans a range of genres and draws on a wide range of stylistic influences. Her music has been recognized with many of the most prestigious awards available to young composers in this country, including major fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters; commissions from the Fromm Foundation at Harvard, the Koussevitsky Foundation at the Library of Congress, and the Barlow Foundation; and a residency at the Copland House. Juri is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at Princeton University. In addition to her creative work as a composer, Juri is an outstanding pianist, versatile musician, and an experienced and dedicated teacher.


Illinois Arts Legacy Award


Daniel J. Perrino (BME ’48 and MS ’49 Music)
Daniel J. Perrino, professor emeritus of music and recipient of the Chancellor’s Medallion at the University of Illinois, joined the School of Music faculty in 1960. During his time at Illinois, he served as the associate dean for the College of Fine and Applied Arts, coordinator of Alumni Affairs and Development, and dean of Campus Programs and Services. As dean of Campus Programs and Services from 1968–1976, Dan was instrumental in the creation of the African-American Cultural Program, Black Chorus, La Casa Cultural Latina, Krannert Center Student Association, and Quad Day. Dan’s love for the arts, for the University of Illinois, and for humanity created a profound and lasting impact on the University of Illinois campus and on generations of students and alumni past, present, and future.

Shozo Sato
Shozo Sato arrived at University of Illinois in 1964, originally as a visiting artist, and stayed on campus to become a professor in the School of Art and Design, Artist in Residence at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and founder of the original Japan House. Sato is a master of the highest order of Japanese tea ceremony, flower arranging, and black ink painting. He has taught these traditional Japanese art forms, as well as calligraphy, and kabuki since arriving on campus and continues to do so regularly in retirement. In 1975, Sato converted a university-owned Victorian house on California Street into the original Japan House, giving him the ability to teach traditional Japanese arts and culture in a traditional Japanese setting. Japan House, now in a different location, continues to provide a place for students and community members to experience and explore Japanese traditional arts. The impact of Shozo Sato’s art and his promotion and advocacy of Japanese culture have resulted in his receiving many honors, including the Sidney R. Yates Arts Advocacy Award by the Illinois Arts Alliance Foundation and the Order of the Sacred Treasure with Rosette from the emperor of Japan in 2004. Generations of students know Shozo Sato as Sensei, and to this day, he continues to teach and inspire through classes at Japan House.

John Charles Wustman
John Wustman, or the "dean of American accompanists," studied with John Kollen at the University of Michigan and in New York with Leonard Shure. He was a pianist for the rehearsals of the American Opera Society's presentation of Bellini's II Pirata that occurred in Carnegie Hall in 1959 and would later serve as a member of the jury at the Fourth International Tschaikowsky Competition in Moscow with Mme. Callas. John has appeared in the leading concert halls of five continents with some of the greatest singers from the second half of this century including Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Birgit Nilsson, Régine Crespin, Christa Ludwig, Nicolai Gedda, Carlo Bergonzi, and Luciano Pavarotti. Since 1968, John has been Professor of Music at the University of Illinois where he founded the vocal coaching and accompanying program in 1973. His students are engaged as singers, conductors, and repetiteurs at the Metropolitan Opera Company, Houston Grand, San Francisco Opera, Chicago Lyric, Munich Staatsoper, and La Scala.


Congratulations to all of our recipients and their families! We are looking forward to honoring them in a virtual awards ceremony later this year in the Fall.


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