Thank You, #WashU20

Posted by The Record staff May 1, 2020


To the Class of 2020: Thank you. For your commitment to academic excellence. For your service to the St. Louis community. For your support of your fellow students. For your devotion to your labs, your teams, your campus organizations. You made Washington University in St. Louis better. We wish we could express our gratitude to each one of you; instead, we deliver these postcards of appreciation highlighting students who embody the spirit of your Class of 2020.

Below are postcards of appreciation for Sam Fox School students Eve Wallack and Natia Kapanadze. View the full series in The Record.

Natia Kapanadze, MLA20

Thank you, Natia Kapanadze, for helping us see the natural world with fresh eyes.

Born and raised in the Republic of Georgia, Kapanadze studied landscape architecture at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, then spent two years on staff at the National Botanical Garden. She supervised plantings, coordinated events, and helped organize the garden’s first national Green Expo.

But "landscape architecture is a fairly new field in Georgia," she says. Projects were typically limited in scale: the park, the yard, the patio. "The mindset was very narrow. I wanted to expand it. I wanted to experience new environments and different communities."

As a Master of Landscape Architecture candidate in the Sam Fox School, Kapanadze has turned her sights to the scale of the street, the river, the watershed. Last fall, she won an American Society of Landscape Architects student merit award for a speculative project that would use strategic regrading and plantings at the Ohio and Mississippi river confluence to reduce nitrogen flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

With classmate Samuel Bell-Hart, Kapanadze also spent months investigating how the Public Land Survey System (a.k.a. the Jeffersonian Grid) has reshaped sedimentation and settlement patterns across the upper Mississippi. The resulting maps, laser-scored onto plexiglass, were featured in a pop-up exhibition atop a Continental Cement Company silo on the river north of downtown.

Other projects include designing information boards for the University’s Office of Sustainability and producing videos in conjunction with the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum exhibition Ai Weiwei: Bare Life. With classmate Lauren McDaniel, Kapanadze organized a screening of videos, created for assistant professor Eric Ellingsen's Visualizing Ecological Processes course, at the Griot Museum of Black History. Her degree project, "Soundscapes," investigates ways to re-introduce natural sounds into urban environments currently dominated by traffic noise.

"WashU is very experimental," she says. "It offers a set of tools and techniques but also allows you to explore your own interests—and not only at the theoretical level. You can go out to the floodplains, study the confluences, and see how the city is divided. It's a great place to get a broad understanding of the field." —by Liam Otten

Eve Wallack, BFA20 in Communication Design

Thank you, Eve Wallack, for reminding us that art and design are communal activities.

"There's a lot of power in visual communication," said Wallack, who will earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts in communication design from the Sam Fox School. "I try to use design as a tool for thinking about larger social issues. What needs to be said, and what needs to be heard?"

As an executive board member for City Faces, the mentoring nonprofit based in St. Louis' Clinton-Peabody housing complex, Wallack created promotional materials, launched the group’s first Instagram account, and spearheaded a social media fundraising campaign that raised $7,000 in less than a week.

While interning for the Sam Fox School’s Office for Socially Engaged Practice, she and fellow intern Lyle Hansen (MArch19/MUD19) developed the Community Art Wall, a public art project installed on fencing around the East End construction site. Inspired by visiting artist Candy Chang, Wallack and Hansen asked passers-by to respond to a pair of prompts: "I heard St. Louis is … And to me, St. Louis is … ."

"It was a lot of work getting approved, but it was cool to see how people used the wall to express their feelings and engage in different ways," Wallack said. "One night, I saw somebody drawing a dragon! Just having the wall as a place to communicate was really fun."

As an orientation counselor with the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, Wallack helped introduce incoming students to the larger St. Louis community. This semester, she served as a teaching assistant for the Law, Race and Design course, which explored issues of access and equality.

With her design capstone project, "The Periodical," Wallack hopes to raise awareness about the barriers some women face in securing menstrual products. Wallack and classmates in the Design for Social Impact class recently worked with St. Louis Children’s Hospital to develop an informational pamphlet about treatments for craniosynostosis, a medical condition in which the bones in an infant's skull begin fusing too quickly.

"I consider myself a creative person, but I've always been more interested in what's going on out there in the world," Wallack concluded. "How can I be a voice for others? How can I use design to highlight issues we may not see and present complex information in a meaningful way?" — by Liam Otten