Smallen Creativity Grants Awarded to Four Students

Renovo Wooden Bike
Renovo Wooden Bike

Four Hamilton students have received grants from the Steven Daniel Smallen Memorial Fund. The recipients, all seniors, are Shawon Akanda, Nathaniel House, David Hyman and Haley Riemer-Peltz.

The Fund aims to encourage student creativity among Hamilton students by providing funds for projects displaying originality, expressiveness and imagination. Hamilton Vice President of Information Technology David Smallen and his wife Ann established the fund in 1993 in memory of their son Steven. Steven Smallen studied at Hamilton for a year while receiving treatment for leukemia, before losing his battle with cancer in 1992.

David Hyman '12 was awarded a grant to build a wooden bicycle. Inspired by his love of bicycles, the crafts of woodworking and design and his desire to incorporate more sustainable practices into his life, he plans to construct a monocoque or "structural skin" (wooden tubes constructed from 2 halves) design.  He was originally inspired by a San Francisco-based company, Renovo, that uses a very sophisticated version of this construction combining woods  engineered for durability and performance.  "I feel that the use of wood in bicycle manufacturing is a practical and more sustainable alternative to aluminum, steel and even, when well engineered, carbon fiber. 

Hopefully this project will show the campus that "sustainable by design" is possible in many unconventional applications given a little hard work and skill, something that is definitely missing from the American paradigm," said Hyman.

Shawon Akanda ’12 was awarded a grant to travel to Tokyo, Japan, to examine the dichotomy of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. He will study ornamental koekeshi, handmade dolls with gentle features that embody an ideal of femininity.  Akanda will compare these with Harajuku, a popular area in Tokyo that displays the unrestrained styles of youth and their affinity for complex and unique taste in fashion. He hopes to intertwine the cultural background of the kokeshi dolls with the visual characteristics of Harajuku style to mold four modern ceramic figures that will represent this link.

Nathaniel House ’12 will use his grant to pursue his passion for music through an international digital collaboration of the African Djembe drum and the cello. He will work with Fabian Hildebrand, a friend in Sweden, on the long-distance Internet collaboration. House met Hildebrand while he was studying abroad in New Zealand and they played together informally. The unique collaboration will feature Hildebrand’s African style drumming and House playing cello. They two will record tracks and work on them through a computer file sharing program, enabling long-distance collaboration, recording and editing.

Haley Riemer-Peltz ’12 received a Smallen grant that will enable her to record songs from two sessions with Rick Montalbano, her jazz piano instructor at Hamilton. She will record five to eight songs for a demo. Riemer-Peltz plans to use the demo, with her singing and Montalbano playing the piano, to send as a pre-audition screening CD to jazz masters’ programs to which she is applying.

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