University of Oregon

School of Architecture and Allied Arts

Ellis F. Lawrence Medal

The Ellis F. Lawrence Medal is awarded each year by the dean and the faculty of the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts to a distinguished alumnus or alumna. Recipients are individuals whose professional and personal achievements embody the integrity, educational philosophy, and commitment to their chosen fields as exemplified by Lawrence, an outstanding teacher, leader, and nationally respected architect. Lawrence served as dean for thirty-two years from the founding of the school in 1914.


Jerome Silbergeld honored with the 2016 Ellis F. Lawrence Medal

The 2016 Lawrence Medal program includes a full biography and Jerome Silbergeld's reflections on his UO education.

Since 2001, Jerome Silbergeld has been the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History at Princeton University's Department of Art and Archaeology and the first director of Princeton's Tang Center for East Asian Art. His first teaching position was as a one-year replacement at the University of Oregon, which was followed by 25 years teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he served as chair of Art History and as director of the School of Art, Art History, and Design.

Jerome Silbergeld
Above: Jerome Silbergeld, pictured at Princeton University Art Museum with a rare, painted lion-faced tomb guardian figure from the Tang dynasty, 8th century. Photo by Denise Applewhite.

The bulk of his work has been divided between traditional arts in the Song and Yuan dynasties (10th through 14th centuries) and modern-contemporary Chinese art. He describes an interest in artists' political and economic motives, in history without heroes, a love of ambivalence and ambiguity, uncertainty and good questions without answers. His teaching and research publications have dealt with such topics as art in times of political upheaval and conditions of intense censorship, the aesthetics of old age, perceptions and misperceptions of historical periodization and change, "bad" art and the articulation of the negative, regional diversity in Chinese gardens, the relationship between Chinese paintings of architecture and real architecture, anthropomorphism and zoomorphism in Chinese art, ghost stories in Chinese cinema (where a Western audience might not even notice the ghosts), the depiction of family in Chinese art, the meaning of "documentary" in Chinese documentary photography, the relationship of Chinese cinema to traditional Chinese visual arts, the emphasis on lyrics (as opposed to melody) in Chinese film music, and the disappearing meaning of "Chinese" in contemporary Chinese art.

Jerome Silbergeld's more than ninety authored and edited publications include the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry on Chinese art, the earliest book-length study of any 20th-century Chinese artist, the first full study of an artist from the People's Republic of China, and the only books on Chinese cinema by an art historian. He has also curated and co-curated nine exhibitions on contemporary Chinese art, including the earliest American solo exhibition by a contemporary Chinese artist and the only American exhibition of documentary works by Chinese photographers. He has served for many years as committee member and chairman at the Asia Society and the China Institute in New York and as an editorial board member for Archives of Asian Art.

At Princeton, the Tang Center has become the foremost academic center of its kind, organizing a wide range of symposia and lectures, acquiring art works for Princeton's outstanding museum collection, sponsoring museum exhibitions, and establishing itself as one of the leading publishers in the Chinese art field with more than ten major book publications in the past decade.

book covers

Above: Book covers from left to right - 1. ARTiculations: Undefining Chinese Contemporary Art, co-edited with Dora Ching. Princeton: Tang Center for East Asian Art and Princeton University Press, 2010. 2. Body in Question: Image and Illusion in Two Chinese Films by Director Jiang Wen. Princeton: Tang Center for East Asian Art and Princeton University Press, 2008. 3. China Into Film: Frames of Reference in Contemporary Chinese Cinema. London: Reaktion Books, 1999. 4. Chinese Painting Style: Media, Methods, and Principles of Form. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1982. 5. Contradictions: Artistic Life, the Socialist State, and the Chinese Painter Li Huasheng. With Gong Jisui. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1993. 6. Mind Landscapes: The Paintings of C. C. Wang. Seattle: The Henry Art Gallery and University of Washington Press, 1987.


Past Recipients

2015   Gail Dubrow '80
2014   Robert Gamblin '70
2013   David Ping-yee Lung '74, MArch '78
2012   Ranachith (Ronnie) Yimsut  '88
2011   Clifford S. Ackley, '59
2010   Fred Koetter, FAIA, '63
2009   Joe Hutshing, '80
2008   Tinker Hatfield, '77
2007    Julia Demichelis, '91
2006    Howard Backen, '62
2005    Rick Mather, RIBA, ‘61
2004    Peter Rothschild, FASLA, ’74, MLA '75
2003    James B. Cuno ’78
2002    Margo Grant Walsh ’60
2001    Elisabeth Walton Potter ’60
2000    Gordon W. Gilkey ’36
1999    James F. Ivory ’51
1998    Johnpaul Jones, FAIA, ‘67