Academy of Art University
School of Architecture
Iker Gil (Chair)
Robert L. Wesley
I grew up in Alabama and served in the United States Army for eleven years as a paralegal and paratrooper both at home and in multiple combat zones. While serving I was honored to receive the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy award for exemplary leadership, care and concern for Soldiers, their families, and the combat readiness of the Army. My natural inclinations and callings have brought me to my second year of architecture studies at the Academy of Art University among immensely inspiring leadership and professors. I owe them a great deal and accept this recognition on behalf of us all. I, in no way, would be writing this now if not for them and the support and sacrifice of my family (hats off to you mommy for traveling here every semester just so I have more time to study and elevate). I currently live in Raymore, Missouri with my ingenious husband and two insightful small children, whom I consider the most effective bosses I’ve ever had for providing 24/7 real world time management and self-actualization training . . . free of charge.
Kenya is a leader in roles where many of us may never have been called upon to perform, serving in the military while being a mother and showing fortitude when faced with any challenge. Most of all, she is a transformational human being that has the presence to create change in each environment she inhabits.
Jennifer Asselstine, Undergraduate Director, Academy of Art University, School of Architecture
I would like to continue my formal education by obtaining a master’s in architecture in order to expand my knowledge in sustainable design. I need to prepare myself for the work ahead. The world is calling out for help and the fact that I am fortunate enough to be on this path at all means that I must be a part of that. This award has allowed me to put money away to be able to finish the current journey and continue on toward the next, and I am ever grateful.
Shadows and light.
Ascension and decline.
Moments for reflection and reality.
Direct and varied movement.
We can see the journey through this passage as a metaphor for life. It can be a metaphor for the unprecedented times that we now face and a way to remind ourselves of the light. The structure reminds us of a fortress which can represent both protection or pending danger, yet half is in the dark and half is open to the light. When we enter our gaze is directed upward to the three ceiling apertures. They remind us that even in the darkness, there is light. We see that there is more than one path. We may enter into a circular journey, we may ascend on a one-way path which we must also descend from, and we may enter a path where even the steps that we take are shrouded in darkness. We cannot see the end; it is a mystery.
On the circular path the linear rhythm of our steps is varied as the ground structures force us to go over or around, which, along with the interplay of shadows and light, mark transitions along the path. Along the path we soon reach the threshold of a dark tunnel. Here we must make a decision whether we will trust and experience a journey which we cannot envision. Without visibility we are forced to touch, feel, and listen more . . . and speak less. When we move back into the circular path we soon reach the threshold of the ascending slope; it is steep and full of pending light. A ray of light guides us and moves about through the roof and light floods through the open half of the passage. The walls rise higher and envelope us as we progress until they drop dramatically when we reach the crest, where we stop to reflect on the light and on our position. After reflection comes reality, as with every ascension one must also descend, and begin again.
The shared personal process drawings communicate that the journey towards the passage, is as much a part of its narrative as the passage itself. © Kenya Steward.
In the development of the film school we saw the potential to hybridize and provide a platform to support various demonstrations and observations. The site opens itself to spaces and paths that are in between function, purpose, and time. How do we map a city in transition . . . a city of the future? How do we engage, cover, and uplift through the making? © Kenya Steward.
Through the noise, Kenya cut through with what remains one of the most powerful arguments I’ve ever read. She drew on Hobbes’s Leviathan, and likened the experience of being Black in America to living in the state of nature; unprotected by laws, under constant threat, unsure of the future. The clarity with which she framed and argument that was so much centered on her own lived experience, the poise joined with a burning urgency . . . it was unlike anything I have ever read from a student. For the rest of the semester she was clearly the dean of her colleagues. She earned the respect even of those whose views had been narrow. More than that, she encouraged and challenged us in our discussions, all the while submitting work of the highest caliber. All this was set against the background of her duties as a working mother.
Jonah Rosenberg, Art History Faculty, Academy of Art University, School of Architecture about an essay written for his course, Design Philosophy
The analysis and mutation of an element from a chosen case study and its site led to the exploration and development of an artifact that would be displayed within the Academy of Art Architecture building at 601 Brannon, San Francisco. A logic and plan for the installation was developed to support the design. © Kenya Steward.
Academy of Art University
School of Architecture
grew up in Alabama and served in the United States Army for eleven years as a paralegal and paratrooper both at home and in multiple combat zones. While serving, she was honored to receive the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy award for exemplary leadership, care, and concern for Soldiers, their families, and the combat readiness of the Army. Her natural inclinations and callings have brought her to her second year of architecture studies at the Academy of Art University. Steward currently lives in Raymore, Missouri and would like to continue her formal education by obtaining a Master in Architecture in order to expand her knowledge in sustainable design.