Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 6, 1996

Artful Students Awarded

Leslie Rice
Homewood News and Information

     It's a special student who pursues his or her artistic
talent and aspirations while at Johns Hopkins, a university whose
tradition is steeped in academics and research. 

     Senior Ali Yazdanfar, this year's winner of the Louis Sudler
Prize in the Arts, and senior Matthew Gross, winner of the
President's Commendation in the Arts, are those types of
students. Yazdanfar, a physics major with a perfect GPA, has
spent a whole other part of his life at the Peabody Conservatory
these past four years, mastering the double bass.  

     One might think that after having won the Donald E. Kerr
Memorial Medal in Physics, which is awarded to the most
outstanding physics undergraduate at Hopkins, Yazdanfar's future
would pretty much have something to do with physics. Instead, he
will enter Rice University this fall to begin a three-year
master's program to study the double bass in the hopes of one day
becoming principal double bassist in an orchestra.

     "I love physics, I really do, but this is what I want to
do," he explained. "The two are completely different, playing the
double bass draws on your emotional, creative side. And it's just
you up there, conveying a feeling in the music, making a personal

     When he applied to Rice University, he was accepted upon his
audition and offered a full, three-year scholarship. Yazdanfar is
that good, believes Paul Johnson, who is on the double bass
faculty at Peabody.

     "Ali Yazdanfar has been a student of mine for four years,"
he wrote in his letter nominating  Yazdanfar for the Sudler
Prize. "I can say without qualification that he is the best
student I have ever had. ... While I would like to take some of
the credit for his remarkable achievements, I must honestly say
that had he just been allowed to sit in the corner of the Bass
Department and absorb what was available, he would have made
equally as much progress. He is naturally gifted and

     The Sudler Prize, a $1,500 annual award established in 1983,
is awarded to a graduating senior or a fourth-year student in the
School of Medicine who has demonstrated excellence in the arts. 

     The President's Commendation was established in 1989 and
honors graduating seniors who have contributed extensively to the
arts in the Homewood community.

     Matt Gross, a Writing Seminars major, already well into his
first novel, has written and directed a well-received 30-minute
film with friend Gil Jawitz, all on a shoestring budget. 

     Looking through the photo album of the filming of Mardi
Gras, Baltimore--made during one of last summer's hottest weeks--
one can see how Gross did indeed contribute an excitement for the
art of filmmaking on campus. The snapshots of sweaty Hopkins
student volunteers lugging lighting equipment and props, playing
bit parts and helping out with the minutiae involved in creating
a film show a group of college students clearly having a blast.

     "I look at it now, and there are definitely things I would
change if I could do it over again," Gross said. "But as far as a
first film goes, the process of making it from start to finish is
what I'm proudest of. There is a tremendous amount of details
that go into making a film, even one that's only 30 minutes

     Since it premiered last fall, the film has been
enthusiastically received by the Hopkins community and has
inspired other students to pursue filmmaking. One student
finished filming a short film a week ago and two other
undergraduates are lining up a project for next year.

     Mardi Gras, Baltimore may be Gross's last venture in the
filmmaking business for a while. He leaves at the end of the
summer for Vietnam, where he will teach English, American culture
and writing to students at Ho Chi Minh Open University in Hanoi
while working on a novel of his own. He applied for the job
because he's interested in helping a growing population of
Vietnamese post-war writers in Hanoi find translations for their
work and introduce them to the American literary scene.

     "I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to do things that
have already been set in place for me," he explained. "I guess
I'm peculiar that way, I like to start new things."

A Prize-Winning Costume and a Drawing 
Evoke History of Homewood House

     When the curators of Homewood House sent out a call to
Hopkins undergraduates to submit entries for the Merrick Homewood
House Award, they hoped the students would use their talents to
portray life on a Federal period country manor.

    What they didn't expect was for two seniors to fairly summon
the ghosts of Harriet and Charles Carroll Jr., Homewood's
long-ago original owners. 

   Last week Homewood House announced the 1996 winners of its
annual $500 award: "Ridiculous Books," a watercolor and ink
drawing of an altercation between Charles Carroll and Charles
Carroll Jr., submitted by biomedical engineering student Dan Hsu;
and "Harriet's Day Dress," a period dress designed and made by
English major Kate Turner-Walker.

     Turner-Walker based her creation on the patterns and
research of clothing from 1798 to 1805 housed in the Center Stage
costume department's extensive archives, where she works as an

     "It looks like a simple design," she said of the ivory
muslin dress. "But there are so many details in it that I had to
do to give it authenticity. It was not nearly as easy to make as
it looks."  

     True to the time period, there is not a zipper or a button
on the dress. Instead, a wraparound bodice, ties and straight
pins secure it together. This particular style was all the rage
when the Carrolls moved into their home at the turn of the 19th
century. Empire-waisted in a lightweight muslin, embellished with
embroidery and trim, the dress is a picture of delicate

   Turner-Walker began as a teenager designing costumes for high
school plays and has been fine-tuning the craft at Center Stage
last semester.

    Hsu is planning another year at Hopkins after graduation to
pursue a master's degree in biomedical engineering. After that,
he plans to enter medical school. 

   Drawing and painting have been an outlet for Hsu for as long
as he can remember, though he's never had formal training. He
particularly likes drawing people and narratives. 

     "I like telling stories through my pictures," he said. "I
thought about drawing a picture of Homewood House itself for the
contest but that sounded tedious to me. I'd much rather draw

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