The University of Kansas Spencer Museum has awarded the Jack and Lavon Brousseau Creativity Award in the writing category to architecture student Melanie D’Souza, Muscat, Oman. She won it for her ethnographic essay, “He’s Definitely Good with Words.” Her composition describes the pressure-filled world of international Scrabble competition from the perspective of one of D’Souza’s close friends, Sherwin Rodrigues, who is among the top 10 professional Scrabble players in the world.
Her essay can be read here.
D’Souza attributes her love of writing to her parents. Her father encouraged her to be well-read, she says. “But my mother was the one who taught me to write and always encouraged me to write travel diaries, prayers, poems and even letters to my grandfather. It quickly became something I love doing; it's a huge part of me.”
When asked how good writing and architecture go together she said, “I learned a lot about architectural sensibilities from good books recommended by Dean Gaunt and Professor Grabow, that were written by architect-writers about practice.
“Personally,” she added, “I think documentation by writing helps us better record what we learn from architectural stimulus and respond better with our designs. It's the supreme way to communicate with the client, besides graphics and oral communication.”
Her father also had a great deal to do with her journey from Muscat to KU. “He really wanted me to live far, far away where I didn't know a soul, and to start off young to excel in education and professional opportunities. This is what he had done a few decades ago when he came to Oman from Mumbai, not knowing anybody. “
D’Souza worked hard in high school so that she could earn a tuition waiver from Kansas. “I also chose KU because my father and I learned about its great program from the 2011 Design Intelligence America’s Best Architecture Schools survey,” she said.
The Brousseau Creativity Award is named for Lavon Brosseau of Concordia. She believes in education and in the profound importance of teaching. She states, “There is a deep and almost sacred beauty in literature and in art. Each may deal with the abstract and each may involve interpretation, but each has its own reality that permits the mind to explore and to soar.”
Brousseau’s ultimate goal in establishing the award is to encourage and reward the caliber of creative work that, if properly nurtured, has the potential to influence the cultural contributions of an emerging generation.
These awards form part of the Spencer Museum’s mission to strengthen, support and contribute to academic research, as well as to foster interdisciplinary exploration at the intersection of art, ideas, and experience. The Spencer’s contemporary vision is to motivate creative work, object-centered learning, and transformative public dialogue.