USCRI Uses Art Glass for Centennial Awards

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The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) celebrated their 100th anniversary at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium. Their mission is to protect the rights and address the needs of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide by advancing fair and humane public policy, facilitating and providing direct professional services, and promoting the full participation of migrants in community life.

In light of its milestone 100th birthday, USCRI commissioned Michael Janis of the Washington Glass Studio to create commemorative artwork for the family of President Dwight Eisenhower and the family of Senator Edward Kennedy. The USCRI event committee worked with the studio, asking that the artwork represent the respective parts of the world helped by the respective honorees. The design was envisioned to have the central figure “wrapped” by glass powder images of refugees. The glass images would be created using glass powder on flat glass, that would be kiln-formed into sculptural shapes.


Concept sketch showing President Eisenhower with refugees.

Concept outline of Senator Kennedy with refugees.

Michael Janis created imagery using his ‘sgraffito’ technique.

President Eisenhower and Senator Kennedy were celebrated for their work assisting refugees and immigrants in artwork made by Michael Janis of Washington Glass Studio.

To highlight the award presentation, video images of the glass artwork were broadcast on the stage during the dinner. Filmed by Lucky Dog Productions, the glass artwork was shown rotating to capture all sides of the works.

above video is the raw footage shot by Lucky Dog Productions – a bit spinny for some – it gives an idea of the artwork in 360 degrees. The final video was slowed down for the broadcast presentation.

Hosted by Cynee Simpson and Chris Spencer, the centennial gala was held at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium October 19, 2011. The black-tie event included celebrity guests and auctions to raise money for the charity organization.

Susan Eisenhower accepted USCRI’s Centennial Award for her grandfather, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ken Leung – from our favorite TV show LOST, was a guest at the gala. Ken was a co-star on LOST, along with the USCRI Global Ambassador, Jeff Fahey.
Susan Eisenhower & Cynne Simpson posing with the Centennial Awards for President Eisenhower & Senator Kennedy.

Wyclef Jean provided entertainment for the night at the Mellon Auditorium.

Wyclef Jean attended to support and encourage the work done by the USCRI. Mr. Jean autographed memorabilia, then energized the crowd with his singing and dancing. However, the highlight of the evening was his display of an unusual talent. Wyclef Jean played his guitar with his tongue, and didn’t miss a beat.

Soon, everyone joined in the fun – including Ken Leung showing his break-dancing finesse.


Ken Leung (aka LOST’s Miles Straume) busting a move… that or he is doing his version of the spinning awards.

WGS joins all in congratulating and celebrating the USCRI’s 100 years.

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