The College of the Arts is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Outstanding Faculty Awards to Dr. Philip Lewis for Outstanding Faculty Award in Research/Creative Activity, Wesley Harvey for Outstanding Faculty Award in Service, Al Thrash for Outstanding Faculty Award in Teaching and Jill Frank for Outstanding Junior Faculty Award.
Through the continuing challenges facing higher education, these awards recognize the superior accomplishments of the faculty, their research and exceptional commitment to our students, and their efforts to elevate the arts at Georgia State University and beyond.
Each recipient is nominated and selected by their peers according to robust criteria, which consider publishing, exhibiting, presenting and performing, among other scholarly and artistic contributions to their field.
Outstanding Faculty Award in Research/Creative Activity
Dr. Philip Lewis – Associate Director and Professor of Film & Media Production, Moving Image Production, Directing, Documentary and Producing
School of Film, Media & Theatre
Dr. Philip Lewis is an accomplished award-winning fiction and documentary filmmaker specializing in interactive and international visual storytelling. Throughout his 40-year career in the industry, Dr. Lewis has produced and directed dozens of films and television programs for worldwide distribution.
Dr. Lewis currently has four films in the worldwide film festival circuit, with over a dozen showings this year alone. These films have garnered great praise and won numerous awards for writing, directing, producing and sound design. In all, over the past few years, Dr. Lewis’ current films have been featured in 26 international film festivals and have won 31 different awards for best directing, best producing, best writing and overall best short film.
In 2022, his documentary short “Women are the Change” was featured in 11 prominent film festivals in the US, Asia and Europe. Among the numerous screenings and awards include: Best Writer and Best Director Awards, Women Empowerment at the iDEAL Intl Film Festival (2022), Maharashtra, INDIA; Best Documentary Short at the Philadelphia World Film Festival; Best Women Empowerment Short at San Francisco Indie Short Festival; three Awards of Excellence for Directing, Producing and Cinematography at the Southern Shorts film Awards Festival in Atlanta; and in 2021, the film won both the Best Documentary Short and Award for Using Film for Social Change at the Impact Documentary Awards in Los Angeles.
Outstanding Faculty Award in Service
Wesley Harvey – Senior Lecturer in Ceramics and Graduate Director
Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design
Wesley Harvey is originally from Van Buren, Indiana, “the popcorn capital of the world.” He received his B.F.A. in Ceramics in 2002 from Indiana University-Bloomington, Indiana, and then his M.F.A. in Ceramics in 2007 from Texas Tech University-Lubbock, Texas. His current body of artwork examines different facets of gay male sexuality and homoeroticism through the lens of queer theory using appropriation of imagery and objects, relevant to the history and social/political activism of the AIDS crisis.
Wesley has exhibited his artwork both nationally and internationally and is also a curator. His artwork can be found in various publications, including Ceramics Monthly, Art in America, 500 Contemporary Ceramic Sculptures, and The Essential Guide to Mold Making & Slip Casting, and more. His artwork is included in permanent and private collections in the United States, South America, China, and Italy. In the spring of 2017, Wesley had artwork in the Whitney Biennial exhibiting as a participating member of Debtfair, an installation and project of Occupy Museums. Most recently in February 2023, the Asheville Art Museum purchased three artworks from his first solo exhibition in Atlanta, “I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there,” at Signature Contemporary Craft. The gallery is one of the nation’s longest-running commercial galleries focusing on craft mediums since 1962.
Outstanding Faculty Award in Teaching
Al Thrash – Professor of Practice, Music Industry/Music Management
School of Music
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Professor Al Thrash has over twenty-five years of experience working in the music and entertainment business. He started his career as a college marketing representative with BMG Distribution. Upon graduating, Professor Thrash landed a full-time position in Atlanta, and later Nashville, TN, handling sales and marketing duties for some of BMG’s biggest artists, including Outkast, Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, Wu-Tang Clan, Dave Matthews Band and Usher. After working seven years with the company, he left to pursue his dreams of entrepreneurship and partnered with a college friend to launch a music consulting company, Own Music LLC. They successfully curated events and secured endorsements for music artists with brands such as Coca-Cola, Adidas, T Mobile, Essence Music Festival and Miller Coors.
In 2008, Professor Thrash joined Thirty Tigers, one of the premiere music distribution companies in the industry, and is currently employed as a Project Manager. Thirty Tigers has helped foster success stories for several world-class artists, including Carlos Santana, Lupe Fiasco, Cimafunk, Jason Isbell and CeCe Winans. In 2011, he developed a curriculum and began teaching music business courses at Morehouse College, and later taught similar courses at Spelman College and Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. In 2018, he joined the faculty of the School of Music at Georgia State University as a Program Coordinator and Professor of Practice in Music Management. In the fall of 2022, Professor Thrash received a grant through the university’s Research Innovation and Scholarly Excellence challenge and used the funds to launch MTM Standard, GSU’s first-ever student-led record label and sync licensing company. Professor Thrash holds an M.B.A. from Clark Atlanta University and a B.A. in Business Administration from Morehouse College.
Outstanding Junior Faculty Award
Jill Frank – Assistant Professor of Photography
Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design
Jill Frank is an Atlanta-based artist and educator. Currently, an Assistant Professor of Photography at Georgia State University, Frank works primarily in photography and video to explore the ideologies and aesthetics that shape teenage life, her large-scale photographs and sound/video installations reveal the struggle to present one’s identity within unstable environmental, political and social contexts. Diverging from traditional documentary forms, Frank uses sound, scale, repetition and staging to memorialize everyday social events.
Frank attended Bard College and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been reviewed in Art Forum, Art in America and The Paris Review. Solo shows include the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia.