Artist Kate Pincus-Whitney received the 2022 Cronshaw Family Distinguished Alumni Award during a recent assembly at her alma mater, Crane Country Day School.
Pincus-Whitney graduated from Crane in 2008, received her undergraduate degree from Sarah Lawrence College, then a master of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. She completed a fellowship at Yale University in 2015, and has served as the artist ambassador for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
In 2022, she was named to Forbes 30 Under 30, recognized for her contributions to the art world. Pincus-Whitney lives in Los Angeles and has shown her artwork around the world, with galleries in Hong Kong, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, and Dubai.
She spent her middle school years at Crane, and said she learned at an early age to express herself through art.
Pincus-Whitney was diagnosed with dyslexia and admits she found reading a challenge, but loved the concept of storytelling. Each of her canvases tells a story in what she calls painting the “theater of the dinner table.”
“I’m interested in how the objects we consume and surround ourselves with become a part of our psychological experience of self,” she said. “I look at everyday objects and see how we connect with them and how those objects define who we are and how we understand ourselves.”
Pincus-Whitney likened the tables in her paintings to a stage and the objects are actors telling their story. Those objects are inspired by nearly everything she experiences.
“As an artist you don’t just look at the world, you see the world,” she said. “I pay attention to all the strange specificities, so nothing is taboo – I could be moved by a 1960s film or a taco joint or the way a light hits an object.”
“You are special and how you see the world is special,” she encouraged the mostly student audience. “Fight for what you believe in and embrace who you are.”
“Something I learned through this crazy, amazing journey is that there is tremendous power in being different. It’s not always easy, but it is a gift.”
Fortunately for Pincus-Whitney, she grew up with a family who supported her creative expression. Hers was a household filled with music, food, art, and theater.
Her mother Laurie Pincus is also an accomplished artist and teacher, who taught art at Crane for a number of years.
Inspiration also comes from a Maya Angelou quote that Pincus-Whitney discovered at Crane, and that graces her studio wall: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Quotes, words, and phrases imbue the artist’s canvases as do the vibrant colors that draw the viewers into her abstract world.
The Cronshaw Family Distinguished Alumni Award is an annual honor bestowed to a former student who has made a significant contribution in the field of their endeavor, which includes career, special interest, community leadership, or volunteer service.
The three Cronshaw brothers — Paul ’68, David ’72, and Ian ’69 — were on hand to honor Kate. The award is in memory of their parents Peter and Margery, both former Crane teachers.
“Crane was the anchor of our childhood,” said Paul Cronshaw. “It’s the source of many wonderful memories and it’s where values were instilled and character was taught.
“We also learned a lot around our family dinner table, and we know that Kate’s artwork would have resonated deeply with our parents.”
Past recipients of the Cronshaw Family Distinguished Alumni Award include film director Morgan Neville ’81 and former UNICEF executive director Henrietta Holsman ’63 Fore.
To learn more about Crane Country Day School, visit www.craneschool.org.