Berta Golahny Awards at CCAE

Recap: Berta Golahny Awards at CCAE

On April 1, 2016, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (CCAE) proudly announced the winners of the first annual Berta Golahny Awards. Created in recognition of prolific artist, mentor, and teacher Berta Golahny, the Golahny Awards were awarded to two teachers and three student artists in one of the larger receptions CCAE has seen in recent years. Berta’s daughter, Amy Golahny, graciously presented student artists Anne McNevin and Kelly Slater with the Berta Golahny Award for Artistic Excellence. Lauren Strand could not attend the reception so her husband accepted the award on her behalf.

Student award recipients Anne McNevin and Kelly Slater spoke to their processes:

"I like to catch people doing [things] that are generally oppositional,” Anne McNevin said. 

Kelly Slater commented on the anxiety that can accompany art-making:  "I think you can get very attached to product, and feel like, oh, I’m wasting my time, my art isn’t good enough, not realizing that that’s not really what it’s all about. Art is feeling like a happier, more well-rounded person by incorporating creativity into your life and realizing that everything is a process. It isn’t really the product that’s the ultimate goal; it’s sort of the practice of doing the art and having a good attitude towards it.”

In addition to the student awards, two long-time CCAE teachers, Sheila Rice and Selma Bromberg, were presented with the Berta Golahny Award for Distinguished Teaching of Art. Amy expressed the devotion Berta had to her students, as well as their devotion to her: many attended her classes for years and fostered lasting friendships. Both recipients of this award, Sheila and Selma, exemplify this devotion.  

Student winner Kelly Slater spoke to Selma’s role in her development as an artist:

“I just find it such an exciting thing to do art, and Selma’s sort of helped me get over some of the anxiety associated with art so I can really enjoy exploring different types of artwork. Selma’s been very encouraging. She sees [art] as a process, as a learning process. You can see how much she enjoys making art, teaching art, so that’s been a really big help to me.”

Selma further emphasized the importance of mentoring within the art community: “This whole event is really exciting because Berta really mentored me when I first started in 1969. In turn, I’ve had a lot of students and I’ve mentored them. This has gone on over the years. Students have come to take my courses, become friends; they form their own mini groups. It’s exciting that things keep going.”

“Teaching has been a great joy,” Sheila said. "I love the ‘aha’ moment when the student says, 'I didn’t know I could do that!' But also, I think that the teaching keeps the creative juices going, too.”


By Morgan Hansen

Photos by Morgan Hansen
Artwork courtesy of the artists