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WINSTON-SALEM – Two student designers and one alumnus of the School of Design and Production at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) have been named the best in the nation by the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).

John Bowhers, a scenic designer from Virginia Beach, Va., will receive USITT’s W. Oren Parker Undergraduate Scene Design Award. Holland Berson, a wig and makeup designer from Baltimore, Md., will receive the Makeup Design Award for graduate students. C. Murdock Lucas, who received an M.F.A. in scene design in 2011, will receive the Scene Design Award for graduate students.

The awards will be presented during USITT’s national conference, scheduled March 28-31 in Long Beach, Calif. Approximately 24 UNCSA students will attend the conference, along with School of Design and Production Dean Joseph P. Tilford and eight faculty members.

Tilford said that Bowhers, Berson and Lucas “richly deserve the recognition” which the USITT awards provide. “These awards are a reflection of their talent and their years of hard work here at UNCSA, coupled with the expert guidance and teaching of our world-class Design and Production faculty,” he said.

“I am very proud of them,” Tilford added. “It has been a wonderful experience for me to watch their development into accomplished artists. They have outstanding careers ahead of them.”

Bowhers is the third UNCSA student in four years to receive the undergraduate scene design award, which is sponsored by Stage Decoration & Supply Company. Brooke Robbins of Charlotte won last year. She is now a scene design fellow at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Ryan Wineinger won in 2009. He is now associate show designer for Walt Disney Imagineering in Orlando. Fla.

Berson is the fourth UNCSA student selected for the graduate makeup design award, which is sponsored by Kryolan. She joins Ming-Yen Ho, who won in 2009, and is now working as a wig and makeup artist in Shanghai, China. Kaylan Paisley, who won in 2008, is now working on national touring productions. Jillian Carter Rivers, who won in 2007, is working on the Las Vegas production of Phantom of the Opera.

Lucas is the second UNCSA student to receive the graduate scene design award, sponsored by Rose Brand. Kathryn Kawecki won in 2007. She received an M.F.A. in scene design in 2006, and is working as a scene designer based in New York and Boston.

Bowhers is a fourth-year undergraduate student. Audiences will be able to see his designs at UNCSA productions of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which opened today (Feb. 16), and Much Ado About Nothing, which opens March 29. His production credits include Light Up the Sky at UNCSA and The Mystery of Irma Vep for Triad Stage, for which he received a USITT regional award and a full conference pass to the USITT national conference. For three years, Bowhers has designed scenic elements for Project Love, an annual student-run production at UNCSA. Last summer, Bowhers co-founded and acted as artistic director of the Winston-Salem-based Peppercorn Children’s Theater and will spend this summer mounting three new productions.

Berson is a third-year graduate student who was assistant wig master for the all-school production of Oklahoma! in April 2011. She also created a six-foot animatronic monster for THE SCARIEST MONSTER, a UNCSA School of Filmmaking project. In 2010, she won the Focal Press wig competition. Berson has a B.A. in theatre, specializing in costume design, from Goucher College in Baltimore, Md.

Originally from Traveler’s Rest, S.C., Lucas was the A.J. Fletcher Opera Fellow in scene design at UNCSA. He is currently the resident scene designer for Duke City Repertory Theatre in Albuquerque, N.M. His previous design experience includes James Madison University, Ohio Light Opera, Twin City Stage, Red Mountain Theatre Company, and the University of Alabama. While at UNCSA, he received third place in the Barbizon Scenic Design Exhibition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival regional conference.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.