Leaving a Legacy: Two seniors receive the inaugural Thomas Grooms award

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Seniors Hannah Buchanan and Abigail Downs received the first ever Thomas Grooms award at the Art Department ceremony on Tuesday, March 25. The award is intended to assist future DePauw senior art students in the transitional phase from graduation to the start of a professional career, according to Grooms, ‘66. Grooms attended the event with his husband Rodger Streitmatter, who sponsored the award in Grooms’s honor.

“When I was going to college many years ago, I couldn't have gotten through that final year without a scholarship. We were in a position where we can do this kind of pay-back and boost some other people. I decided to create an award in Tom's name because he always talked about the art classes that [he took at DePauw],” Streitmatter said. 

The award selection committee differs from other department scholarships, as a professional artist works with DePauw professors to select the recipients. According to Art Department Chair Meredith Brickell, “It was a really smart way to connect DePauw to the professional art world by inviting notable external artists to review the submissions of our students. So I thought that was a really clever way to add some depth to the award.” This year’s external reviewer was Josephine Halvorson, who is a painter, a sculptor, and the chair of Graduate Studies in Painting at Boston University.

Both Buchanan and Downs expressed gratitude for the award and the financial support it will provide them in their future endeavors and graduate school plans. 

“I plan to be an art therapist, and I personally have to pay for grad school myself, so this award is going a great deal towards that and I’m super excited about the opportunity,” Downs said. 

Buchanan echoed Downs’s sentiments, saying, “The art world can be really daunting and expensive. I can’t thank [Grooms and Streitmatter] enough.” 

Brickell believes that awards and honors are important to DePauw’s art program as a way to honor students and increase the program’s visibility both on campus and in the greater community, ultimately attracting a new generation of students to the university. 

“As you can see from his work, he has a long history of advocating for the arts. This new Thomas Grooms art award that Roger set up in Tom's honor will support a generation of young artists and ensure that this impact continues,” Brickell said. 

Thomas B. Grooms Art Award recipients Hannah Buchanan (middle left) and Abigail Downs (middle right) stand with award donor Rodger Streitmatter (far left) and Thomas B. Grooms (far right).