Frederic Church Awards Gala
PATRON Kelly M. Williams
CURATOR Sarah D. Coffin
ARTIST Lynn Davis
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
The Rainbow Room, New York City | Enter at 49 West 49th Street
Cocktails begin at 6:30 PM | Dinner and Program begin at 8:00 PM
About the Award: Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), a visionary and renaissance man, is considered one of the greatest 19th century landscape artists in America. In 2000, the centenary of Church’s death, The Olana Partnership established the Frederic Church Award to honor individuals who, through their vision, commitment and grasp of creative trends, make extraordinary contributions to American culture.
Kelly M. Williams, PatronKelly Williams is a widely recognized leader in the alternative investment space, having founded the Customized Fund Investment Group in 1999 which she grew to over $30 billion of assets under management before leading its sale in 2014. Kelly and her husband, Andrew Forsyth, bought their first home in Palm Beach in 2009 and moved full-time in 2013. In 2015, Kelly established The Williams Legacy Foundation. This independent charitable organization utilizes a dynamic approach to philanthropy to support effective programs, innovative partnerships, and investments designed to further opportunities for women, minorities, and underserved communities. Through the Foundation, the Williams family promotes fellowship and constructive engagement in order to strengthen and empower communities and combat isolation. The Foundation also supports education, social responsibility, and diversity in the arts –– and her mission-driven approach to collecting reflects these pursuits. Her collection contains artworks spanning centuries, including more than one hundred forty different artists from more than twenty countries, focusing on historically under-represented artists, particularly artists of color, artists who are members of the global African diaspora, female, and non-binary artists.
Numerous artists in the Williams collection not only use their artistic platform to address racism, injustice, and inequality – but also proudly celebrate the strength, beauty, and resilience of black and indigenous people in America through artwork across various media. Historic painting examples of representation and abstract expressionism include works by Benny Andrews, Frank Bowling, Whitfield Lovell, Joe Overstreet, Sam Gilliam, Mercedes Matter, Vivian Springford, Paul Waters, Michael Corinne West, and Peter Williams.
Contemporary examples of emerging and mid-career painting and sculpture include works by Emma Amos, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Simone Leigh, Firelei Baez, Ryan Cosbert, Xavier Daniels, Robert Davis, Vaginal Davis, Lucy Dodd, June Edmonds, Theaster Gates, Vanessa German, Jeffrey Gibson, Ronald Jackson, Carla Jay Harris, February James, Leosho Johnson, Forrest Kirk, YoYo Lander, Hugo McCloud, Alexis McGrigg, Murjoni Merriweather, Tommy Mitchell, Azikiwe Mohammed, Zanele Muholi, Carmen Neely, Alicia Pillar, Jaune Quick-to-see Smith, Tschabalala Self, David Shrobe, Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, Jeff Sonhouse, Kathia St. Hilaire, Khalif Thompson, Genesis Tramaine, Soujourner Truth Parsons, Khari Turner, Kara Walker, Autumn Wallace, Chris Watts, Didier William, Zenobia, among others. An important thread amongst the intergenerational artists represented is the shared belief in the communicative power of art to tell stories, explore identity, and create historic objects as a means of empowerment and social change.
Separate from The Williams Legacy Foundation and extensive work in the investment field, Kelly serves on numerous non-profit boards in leadership roles, including Chair of the Board of Commissioners of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Vice Chair of the Board of The Norton Museum of Art, and Founding Chair of Private Equity Women Investor Network (PEWIN). She also serves on the boards of The Olana Partnership, The National Philanthropic Trust, The Robert Toigo Foundation, Union College, and The New York School of Interior Design. Kelly actively loans and gifts artworks to these institutions, among others. She resides with her husband, Andrew Forsyth, in Palm Beach, FL, and also maintains residences in Nantucket, MA, York, SC, and New York, NY.
Sarah D. Coffin, Curator
Sarah D. Coffin served as Senior Curator and Head, Product Design and Decorative Arts at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum from 2004 to 2018. Her last major exhibition The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s (April 2017– January 2018, New York and The Cleveland Museum of Art), received the Art Deco Society’s Michael Smith award for the Cooper Hewitt installation, and was accompanied by an award-wining eponymous publication. During her tenure at the Cooper Hewitt, Coffin also curated the blockbuster exhibition Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels, served as co-curator of Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008, Feeding Desire: Design and Tools of the Table, 1500-2005, and Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest and Frederic Church. Her extensive research on de Forest included in-depth study of his involvement with Church at Olana and archival work in India. Coffin also served as project manager for the multi-gallery inaugural display of the Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection. In her “retirement”, Coffin has recently been co-author and co-organizing curator, with David Hanks of the book Hector Guimard: From Modernism to Art Nouveau, and the related exhibition, at Cooper Hewitt and the Driehaus Museum in Chicago 2022-2023. She has worked with the Olana curatorial staff to help research collections objects and appropriate textiles at Olana, and pursue other interests, which, like Frederic Church, include travel, painting, the landscape and architecture, as well as her primary area of expertise in the decorative arts, lecturing on topics as wide ranging as Lockwood de Forest, Rococo design, and the architecture of the table.
Earlier in her career, Coffin worked in the Department of Furniture and Woodwork at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as Specialist in the Silver and Objects of Vertu departments and Vice President, Decorative Arts Representative at Sotheby’s, and in the American Arts department at the Yale University Art Gallery. Coffin holds an MA in Art and Architectural history from Columbia University and a BA with distinction in Art and Architectural History from Yale University, where her courses included two on nineteenth century American paintings, taught by Olana National Advisory Committee member, Ted Stebbins. A contributor to numerous magazines and catalogues, Coffin is the author of The Gilbert Museum: Portrait Miniatures in Enamel. She has taught and/or lectured at NYU, George Washington University and Yale, as well as to numerous museums and private groups.