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Make My Mandala
November 11, 2010
Since 1950, Franny has taught art history to thousands of students at The Cleveland Institute of Art.
This October, The Cleveland Institute of Art celebrated the sixty-year tenure of art history professor Frances Prindle Taft. Since 1950, Franny has taught art history to thousands of CIA students.
“Inspiration is the word that comes to mind when I think of Franny Taft,” said Sally Sweeney Bryenton, class of ’68. “On my many trips to Mexico I remember who it was that sparked my lifelong interest in pre-Columbian history [Franny’s specialty].”
Franny found her calling in fits and starts: she discovered art history at Vassar College and teaching during WWII, when the Navy assigned her to teach codes and ciphers.
After graduating from Vassar in 1942, Franny joined the first officer class of the U.S. Naval Reserve’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES. She was discharged with the rank of Lieutenant in 1945 and went on to Yale, where she earned a master’s degree in art history in 1948. (Read more about other notable veterans who have studied or taught at CIA.)
A woman whose credo is "Do what you love" soon learned that she loved what she was doing. In 1950, she began teaching at the Institute. Now in her 80s, Professor Taft continues to inspire and enlighten students with her passion for art, particularly pre-Columbian art of Latin America.
Franny’s career accomplishments include being honored by The Cleveland Arts Prize in 1995 with its Special Citation for Distinguished Service to the Arts. In 2001 Vassar honored Franny with its first Award for Outstanding Service. And CIA gave Franny its Award for Excellence in 1994 and its Schreckengost Teaching Award earlier this year.
But perhaps more important than her very impressive resume is Franny’s passion for knowledge and discovery… and arguably even more significant than that is the fact that she has instilled that passion into generations of students here at The Cleveland Institute of Art.
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