The American Academy of Arts and Letters Honors School of Art Professors

POSTED ON: March 24, 2021

Professor Coco Fusco. Photo by Kathryn Gamble

School of Art professors Coco Fusco, Leslie Hewitt A’00, and William Villalongo A’99 have been selected to receive 2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters awards. This year’s winners were chosen from a group of 125 artists who had been invited to submit work. Awardees will be honored in an online ceremony on May 19 due to the pandemic. 

Professor Fusco received the Arts and Letters Awards in Art to honor exceptional accomplishment and encourage creative work, and Professors Hewitt and Villalongo received Purchase Prizes, which help place the work of talented, living American artists in museums across the country. 

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. It administers over 70 awards and prizes, exhibits art, and more in order to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts. 

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.