Graduation Show Awards 2023: the Winners

Mon 10 Jul

On Saturday July 9,  the 2023 Award Ceremony took place at de Willem on the last day of the Graduation Show. Seven awards were given out on this day: the Push Award, Bachelor Research Award, Master Research Award, and one Drempelprijs for each Practice. Scroll down and read more about the awards, winners and the jury reports.





Push Award 2023

The PUSH AWARD, initiated by the Business Station, helps young designers transform their graduation project into a next level professional project. The award promotes the potential of great graduation projects, and helps to take the next step in building a successful, sustainable practice.

The winners of the PUSH AWARD receive:

- 3 master coaching sessions on visibility and positioning offered by The New Current in Rotterdam.

- Any Business Station consults or training they prefer

And the 3 winners are...

Bailey Mees - Graphic Design (Autonomous Practice) 

Jury: " This designer is a divers multi-talented creator. Next to being a musician, graphic designer, video producer, tour photographer, he experiments with materials like vinyl to find a position in the music industry that incorporates experimentation to clear commercial outputs. For this fun and innovative project and approach, the second PUSH AWARD goes to Project ‘Wasted Opportunity.”

Moritz Liedtke & Jake Lalor Zakrzewski - Product Design (Commercial Practice) -

Jury: "These emerging designers could be called modern inventors. Their project is a contemporary way to connect old crafts to modern manufacturing processes. In addition they are very aware of the designs these processes can create. For their project: “WEAV3D” they deserve a PUSH Award!"

Lieve Postulart - Transformation Design (Autonomous Practice)

Jury: " This graduation project is a very personal collection of prints and objects that symbolise the memories and emotions that are connected to a deceased loved one. She has discovered value through her job as a home clearer uses those insides to carefully transforms traditional practices in the funeral industry. Project: “Those who were, those who are” deserves a PUSH AWARD!"

Winners Push Award 2023. Moritz Liedtke & Jake Lalor Zakrzewski, Bailey Mees and Lieve Postulart. Picture by Christobal Pereira.

Drempelprijs 2023– powered by Municipality of Rotterdam 

The Drempelprijs has been awarded annually since 1962 by the Municipality of Rotterdam (Gemeente Rotterdam) to one or more graduates of the Willem de Kooning Academy. Originally, the prize was awarded only to fine art graduates; since 1968 applied arts graduates have also been eligible. The prize is an incentive award, with a nice sum of money: € 5,000. In the WdKA’s  curriculum, the traditional distinction between fine art and applied work is no longer considered relevant. Since 2021, the Drempelprijs awarded to students within the four graduation profiles: Autonomous, Social and Commercial practices and the Honours Programme.

And the winners of this year are:

Drempelprijs Social Practices

Uedia Ballijn - Photography

Jury: “To be heard I must be seen” was one of the many sentences of Uedia Ballijn’s gifts to those who would engage with their work. Snippets of Uedia’s research which inspired the journey they took to find their own voice. In Pursuit of Tongo explores language justice from a personal perspective with care for the maker and the viewer. This work created a space which allows many to enter from different points and depart from others. The jury is impressed with Uedia’s courage and vulnerability that can be felt in the translation of their installation, unapologetically claiming their space.

For this reason, the jury would like to commend Uedia’s strength and generosity and unanimously award the 2023 Threshold award for Social Practice to Photography Student and Cultural Diversity graduate Uedia Ballijn. The jury hopes that this decision shows that - “We saw you Uedia and we hear you clearly”.

Jury: Fyn Paulina Bonita van Ast (non-voting secretary), James Parnell, Ada M. Patterson and Yun Lee.

Read the full jury report here: Jury Report - Drempelprijs Social Practices 2023

Uedia Ballijn, winner Drempelprijs Social Practices 2023. Picture by Christobal Pereira.

Drempelprijs Commercial Practices

Alana Wieland and Louise Wieland - Illustration + RASL Dual Degree

Jury: "Louise and Alana presented a collection of objects in the symbolic space of a hallway, both a space of entry and a place to dress yourself to go outside. Louise’s photo and mirror frames weave stories around the process of developing a sense of belonging when entering a new country, finding home in the shared experiences of diasporic communities from diverse backgrounds. Alana’s publication and series of scarfs focuses on the process of identity-formation, emphasizing how identity is dynamic and relational.

The jury was particularly impressed by the well-developed and nuanced theoretical starting points: the vision of finding kinship in shared experiences & a space for self-formation that remains porous; the large body of work; the art-school-aesthetics challenging aesthetics, embracing craft, decoration and a non-western perspective; the ‘ownership taking’ of the space through the 'house rules'; the contesting of the narrative “us versus them” and the embracing of an “us and them (us)” narrative. We encourage you to further develop and explore how kinship with other communities can become part of the process or presentation, and how the Hallway experience could be elaborated to give more space to the objects and accentuate the journey of the story."

Jury: Shirin Mirachor, Ton van Gool, Gijs de Boer, Peter Kalkman (non-voting secretary).

You can read the full jury report here: Jury Report WdKA Drempelprijs 2023, Commercial Practices

Drempelprijs Winners Commercial Practices 2023: Alana & Louise Wieland. Picture by Christobal Pereira.


Drempelprijs Autonomous Practices

The jury of this year didn’t feel that there is an extremely outstanding work that can be awarded the prize, they also don’t feel that it is fair to the students to not have the prize awarded to anyone, but rather see it as a potential step to encourage them to engage and think of their wider context and ecosystems. The idea of a practice in the fields of art and design is to grow, share and be supported. The jury discussed extensively the appreciation of the work of the students and the doubts addressed above. The jury wants to encourage the young professionals to enjoy the path they walk and seek feedback, getting in relation and developing their energy and carefully chosen subjects.

Therefore, the jury decided to divide the prize among the ten nominees which are in alphabetical order:

Lorenzo Bacchin, Kenza Beddek, Giovanni Benetello, Luna Bongers, Vincent Coppen, Ellie Mc Guinness, Lieve Postulart, Mick Santman, Guusje Verbaarschot and Sebastiaan Verbeeten

Jury: Serana Angelista, Indirah Tauwnaar, Yazan Khalili, reinaart vanhoe (non-voting secretary).

You can read the full jury report here: Jury Report WdKA Drempelprijs 2023, Autonomous Practices

[caption id="attachment_15310" align="alignright" width="1024"] Winners Drempelprijs Autonomous Practices 2023. Picture by Christobal Pereira.[/caption]


Drempelprijs Honours Programme

Sadie Girigorie - Graphic Design

Jury: "The Jury have experienced the removal of prizes at other institutions that ultimately resulted in the disappearance of even more resources. So although we do not fully support such structures, we do believe in real resources being distributed; and were convinced by Sadie’s dedication to queer poetics as a composing of community. Congratulations to all the nominees and all the graduating students for all your dedication in these adverse conditions."

Jury: Jay Tan, Niekolaas Lekkerkerk, Sonia de Jager (non-voting)

Read the full jury report here: Jury Report WdKA Drempelprijs 2023, Honours Programme

Winner Drempelprijs Honours Programme 2023, Sadie Girigorie. Picture by Christobal Pereira.

Research Awards

The Willem de Kooning Research Award was established by the Willem de Kooning Foundation in 2015 to emphasise the central role of art and design research within the newly introduced curriculum.  The Willem de Kooning Research Awards are no prizes for just theses or research documents but for projects merging theory and practice where art or design work is a vital part of the research. The Awards are granted to Bachelor and Master graduation projects that combine theoretical and field research with artistic research and which provide new insights to broader audiences of experts and the public at large.

And the winners of this year are...

Bachelor Research Awards

Five projects stood out for the jury. Even after careful evaluation of all the award criteria and applying them to each of these projects, followed by in-depth discussions, the jury concludes that it would not be fair to these projects to reduce them to three winners, nor to rank them hierarchically. In recognition of this exceptional situation, the jury decided to award all five projects an equal prize of 600 euros.

Uedia Ballijn - Photography

Jury: " This is a very personal and intimate work about how the Surinamese language, Sranantongo, relates to your identity. Among several projects involving the search for personal roots, yours stood out because you found an original form for it. In your thesis you have done a very good job of considering the reader. It is clear, well conceived, well structured, well interwoven with theoretical references, with a self-conscious use of Sranantongo as an interspersed element. By being in conversation with your sources, you have created a powerful and original way to connect your references to your personal quest. Throughout, your research maintains its ethical integrity, manifested in the way you use footnotes, thus transcending your research beyond the individual level. Although the jury feels that the video installation could be further refined, it praises the way in which you take your reader and audience along with you in this project."

Nelson Chio - Fashion Design

Jury: "Your project to design “vulgar fashion” based on observing people on the street and how they use their clothes to carry all sorts of things is convincing and highly enjoyable. It has a very original and radical approach of de- and reconstructing fashion. The jury praises your very readable thesis and clear research process, enhanced with a nice touch of humour. The use of materials and the field study of your immediate environment are critically relevant and testify to the great originality of your approach. The urgency of your project is also abundantly clear. The jury praises the fact that your project does not perform extractionism of so-called low fashion into so-called high fashion, as is often the case in fashion design, but successfully popularizes fashion. By presenting your work in a “sub-casual” (vulgar) manner, you have also found an appropriate visual language for your installation."

Jessica Belarmino - Spatial Design

Jury: " The project is based on reflections of disorientation and homecoming in Brazilian diasporic communities in the Netherlands. It is very well done, has a very good structure, with its different elements and different media very well interwoven. You excellently connected the different parts of thesis, research material and visual work, with a very good command over your materials. Your personal involvement was beneficial for this project, too. The project succeeds in claiming a collective space for diasporic communities, allowing the issue to transcend the personal level. For the future, the jury would like to encourage you to to take risks and try more radical research methods. You are a good storyteller with great poetic potential."

Jonah Sluimer - Illustration

Jury: "This project is an extraordinary attempt to make a difficult subject - inner psychology - three-dimensional through drawings and an installation. The research process, well loaded with art historical references, constantly undermines itself in a strange but functional way. The jury felt taken on a very associative trip of a deconstructive and reconstructive experience. Sometimes the members went a bit astray but always found their way back. The manual was very convincingly made and designed and might have been sufficient as the visual presentation of this project. We encourage you to take more liberties with the form in the visual installation. The jury also finds it remarkable that this work came out of the Commercial Practices curriculum."

Fleur Wortman - (de)Fine Art

Jury: " This project is a beautiful, sincere and personally motivated children’s book about the change of landscapes, nature and agriculture. It is tactile, poetic, refreshing, sometimes bordering on corny. The fact that you also personify the moss and a greenhouse as a living being with a fragile skin shows a poetic ability and a feeling for the inner world and open-mindedness of children. Your use of the “Aagjes” as fictional characters is refreshing and intelligent. You are able to build worlds and cosmologies on the basis of small observations, which the jury also sees as political. The absence of judgmentalism, and avoidance of normative anti-capitalist statements, works to the benefit of this project."

Jury: Katía Truijen, Jack Segbars, Hajo Doorn, Florian Cramer (non-voting secretary).

You can read the full jury report here: Jury Report 2023- BA Research Award

Winners BA Research Awards 2023. Picture by Christobal Pereira.

Master Research Awards

This year, six awards were handed out: one per Master Programme. Congratulations to all winners. More details on the winners and their work can be read via this link.

Master Interior Architecture Research + Design: Maya Kumari

Master Education in Arts: Elina Charinti

Master Lens-Based Media: Aitan Ebrahimoff

Master Design: Anne Karin ten Bosch

Master Experimental Publishing: Erica Gargaglione and Ål Nik (Alexandra Nikolova)

Master Fine Art: Gabi Dao

Winners MA Research Awards 2023. Picture by Christobal Pereira.