Amber Primm (2011)

The recipient of our next award has transformed the task of managing a building into an act of love and imagination.

Indeed, she is the manager of the Barrington Center for the Arts.  That requires juggling many duties, such as caring for the condition of the building, insuring that models, gallery shows, film shoots, and programs are well scheduled, and even lining up dates for the Provost’s Film Series.  

As Bruce Herman observes, “Managing all those artists over in Barrington has got to be a combination of saintly patience and the toughness of a rugby coach.”The Barrington Center for the Arts runs as efficiently as it does,” Jim Zingarelli observes,  “even with all of us crazy art types over here, mostly, I believe, because of her investment in the arts and the lives of the people who practice them . . . As a friend, you could not find anyone more loving and caring.”

But if she manages the building she also brings you into the Barrington Center to help you escape it.  One minute you are in the Barrington lobby; the next minute you need to be in Shakespeare’s forest, Handel’s studio, or some geometric riddle of the imagination. Anyone who has been to the theatre knows that the show begins when you first see the stage.  Even before an actor makes an appearance or the engineers dim the lights, your first visual encounter with the set is often what does the most to transport you to a new world.  For nearly a decade now she has designed sets for our theatre program and for other local stages.  If you had the good fortune of seeing “The Pirates of Penzance” lately, you got to see her set first hand, complete with trap doors and the sudden appearance of Queen Victoria’s portrait near the ceiling. 

In several of her projects—such as “I Don’t Know, I Just Don’t Know” or “Growing Up Christian”— she has worked closely with students as they have crafted their own scripts, and she has developed a visual setting to match their ideas and visions. 

On top of this, she is a talented artist in her own right, adept with painting, drawing and sculpting—as well video and computer work.  She blends that wide range of talents with a creative collegiality that strives to help students and colleagues achieve their own goals and enrich their own work.  As Jeff Miller, the director of our Theatre Department, remarks:  One of the great delights is . . . that she will always surprise you—you think she is a classically-trained artist (and she is!) and then you find out she loves graffiti art; you ask her to help fix a computer problem and she introduces you to an amazing new shortcut or inspiring website; you consult her on a PR problem and she gives you a list of new ideas.  She's gold!”

So to honor that golden spirit I am pleased to present one of the 2011 Provost’s Awards to Amber Primm.

February 10, 2011