CFPCA honors outstanding alumni and community members at 41st Arts Achievement Awards

The College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts (CFPCA) at Wayne State University is excited to celebrate its 41st Annual Arts Achievement Awards. The award recognizes alumni and former students for their exceptional accomplishments in the arts and communication fields.

This year's awardees range from a noted cinematographer, an accomplished lyric soprano to an internationally acclaimed visual artist and an accomplished Shakespeare speech and dialect coach.

"Through these awards, we celebrate the exceptional history of our arts and communication programs and their role in launching amazing careers," said CFPCA Dean Matthew Seeger. "By honoring these individuals, we remind our current students that they can accomplish anything."

2020 honorees include:

  • McArthur Binion - Career Achievement Award in the Field of Art and Art History
  • Lisa Wiegand - Career Achievement Award in the Field of Communication
  • Jacqueline Echols - Career Achievement Award in the Field of Music
  • Jan Gist - Career Achievement Award in the Field of Theatre
  • "This prestigious group of CFPCA alumni should certainly be commended, especially in such a challenging year for the arts," said Director of Philanthropy Alison Piech Linn. "Our awardees add so much to the program's legacy and their creative work, leadership in their fields and artistic practices have enriched not only Detroit, but the communities in which they live. We are thrilled to recognize their achievements."

    Traditionally, the awards ceremony is held annually on Wayne State's campus. In light of the pandemic, the college will commemorate this year's awardees with the launch of the Arts Achievement Virtual Archive, celebrating the history of the program and all prior honorees.

    Information on current and past award recipients can be found at For questions or to provide updates, contact Patrick Field at

    About the 2020 Career Achievement Award recipients

    McArthur Binion received his B.F.A. from Wayne State University in 1971 and his M.F.A. from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1973. Sourcing narratives of an African American experience in rural America and his presence in the white-dominated heyday of American Modernism in New York, Binion has developed a unique style of action painting, which places personal memory in dialogue with visual elements of Modernism. Binion combines collage, drawing and painting to create autobiographical abstractions of painted minimalist patterns over an "under conscious" of personal documents and photographs. From photocopies of his birth certificate and pages from his address book to pictures from his childhood and found photographs of lynchings, the poignant and charged images that constitute the tiled base of his work are concealed and abstracted by grids of oil stick. In 2020, Binion established the Modern Ancient Brown foundation based in Detroit, which will host an annual residency for two to four emerging artists. This deep commitment to supporting his community and the next generation of artists is at the heart of his practice.

    Lisa Marie Wiegand graduated in 1989 from Wayne State University, and obtained her M.F.A. in cinematography from UCLA in 1998. In 1995, she received a master's in cinematography from the American Film Institute. She is known for her work on Mayans M.C. (2018), Chicago Fire (2012-present), Detroiters (2017) and Detroit 1-8-7 (2010). Wiegand has been featured several times in American Cinematographer and has been awarded for excellence in cinematography by the American Society of Cinematographers.

    Lyric soprano Jacqueline Echols has been praised for her "dynamic range and vocal acrobatics" in theatres across the United States. Echols' 2018-19 season began with her return to the Kennedy Center in the title role of Verdi's La Traviata for a new production by Washington National Opera, directed by Francesca Zambello. Following her debut with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra for their 2017 season opening gala concert, she returned to the orchestra for her first performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. A frequent performer of both standard and contemporary repertoire, Echols debuted the role of Helen in the world premiere performances of The Summer King at the Pittsburgh Opera in 2017, and reprised the role in her hometown of Detroit with Michigan Opera Theater in 2018. She has performed the role of Pip in Heggie's Moby Dick with the Los Angeles, Dallas, and Pittsburgh operas, as well as the role of Sister Helen in the composer's Dead Man Walking with Washington National Opera.

    Jan Gist has been the voice, speech and dialect coach for Old Globe productions on 89 shows and for 50 USD/Shiley MFA productions. She has coached at theatres around the country, including Ahmanson Theatre; La Jolla Playhouse; Oregon Shakespeare Festival; The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.; The American Shakespeare Center; Utah Shakespearean Festival; Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Arena Stage; San Diego Repertory; North Coast Repertory; Milwaukee Repertory; PlayMakers' Repertory; Indiana Repertory; American Players Theatre; and Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company's Graduate Theatre Program.

    About the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts

    The College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts (CFPCA) serves students majoring in 17 undergraduate programs, 12 graduate programs and four graduate certificates through the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History, the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, the Department of Music and the Department of Communication.

    Wayne State University, located in the heart of Detroit's Midtown Cultural Center, is a premier urban research institution offering nearly 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 26,000 students.


    ← Back to listing