Harry Allen Design Diary

Pingry Honor

My high shool in NJ, Pingry, honored me last week with an Achievement in the Arts Award. I was inducted in 2012 but was unable to attend the ceremony until now. Miles Boyd, the Chair of the Fine Arts Department, waited patiently to give the award in person. My name starting with an “A”, and my being inducted the first year, puts me first on the plaque!

Honestly I am a bit conflicted about my time at Pingry. They have been very nice to me the last couple of years, with a show in the gallery in 2008 and now this honor, but when I was there, I was an outsider and a lousy student. I spent all of my time in the ceramics studio. Hello! Designer! 

With no prepared speech the other night I bumbled through my address. It sort of felt like my old days at Pingry. Fortunately the turnout for the Achievement in the Arts Award Ceremony was sparse, which also felt like the old days at Pingry. I imagine that the Sports Hall of Fame ceremony would have been packed.

I was most impressed with the other honorees, Gallerist Meredith Ward, and Filmmaker Chris Bender, and the very talented Balladeers who sang for us. It was like an episode from Glee.

Since my days, Pingry has put much more emphasis on the arts. The award ceremony took place in the huge Hostetter Arts Center, and I suspect if I was a student there today I would have an easier time finding my calling. I wrote this in a “note to the students” for my show in 2008:

“The Pingry that I went to was a very different place – it was all sports and academics back then. It was not a place that nurtured young designers. Of course I had fun, and at the end of the day I am grateful for the foundation that it gave me, but for a long time I resented the fact that I fell through the cracks. If I had been a candidate for medical or law school most certainly my skill set would have been recognized. In the end, everything worked out for the best. We are the sum total of all of our experiences, and I am very happy with my sum total. Pingry was the place that I learned to meditate, read books, create pots, and make friends, and on some level these are the things I am still doing today. Pingry provided a very considerate intellectual environment in which to come of age – it made me more receptive to new ideas, and it seems that tradition continues today. ”

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