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Inaugural Arts Hall of Fame Inductees Have Indelible Impact on the Arts

Cincinnati Country Day School is the place to be a…poet, songwriter, filmmaker, art teacher, portrait storyteller, director, leader.

The seven Arts Hall of Fame award inductees include all these monikers and then some.

“The honorees have excelled in a range of artistic endeavors…their accomplishments have won worldwide accolades, including Grammy, Oscar, and Emmy awards,” said Robert Zimmerman `98, head of school. “Regardless of the medium in which they have practiced or the awards they have garnered, each honoree demonstrates the unique power of art – a power derived from art’s ability to at once comfort and challenge, to inspire and incite.”

Robert Shetterly Jr. with Deqa Dhalac

Robert Shetterly Jr. `65 with Deqa Dhalac, the first African-born female mayor in the United States.

The Arts Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductees are Phyllis Pierce, William Messer ’66, and Robert Shetterly, Jr. ’65. Kellen Pomeranz ’07 was presented with the Rising Star award.

The Class of 2022 includes Mitchell Block ’68, Jeffrey Harrison ’76, and Veena Sud ’85.

Block, who is credited with co-founding the school’s fine arts program, said his experience at Country Day was “life-changing. It’s so wonderful thinking that this vision that we had over 60 years ago has blossomed into this magnificent arts program and I just want to say how grateful I am to Country Day for making my life and my career possible by giving me the skill sets I needed to move through my life and follow my heart.”

The Arts Hall of Fame is a celebration of the school’s strong and vibrant tradition in the arts. Former students and community members are recognized for their contributions to the fine, musical, performing, and literary arts.

“I got to grow up in an environment in which the teachers were so passionate about their subjects and passed that passion along to their students,” said Pomeranz, who won a Grammy for her contributions to John Legend’s album “Bigger Love.” “My friends and teachers made such an impact on my life. It’s an award on its own to be able to look back on my childhood with joy.” 

Veena Sud at the Toronto International Film Festival

Veena Sud '85 at the Toronto International Film Festival Gala premiere of her film "The Lie."

Phyllis Pierce, founder of the upper school fine arts program, began the program in the early 1960s with assistance from student Bill Messer. Robert B. Shetterly, Jr. `65 is an accomplished painter and founder of Americans Who Tell the Truth. Shetterly was active in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements that inspired much of his work over the years. William F. Messer `66, and fellow inductee, Phyllis Pierce, spearheaded the creation of the upper school fine arts program. He is an accomplished photographer and critic in the United States and Europe.  Kellen Pomeranz `07 is a multi-talented producer and songwriter. Mitchell W. Block `68 is a filmmaker, primarily a producer of documentary films. Jeffrey W. Harrison `76, is an award-winning poet and the author of six full-length books of poetry. Veena C. Sud `85 is a distinguished showrunner, screenwriter, producer, and director for both TV and film productions.

“To all of our honorees, we are proud to claim you as part of our legacy of artistic leadership – a legacy whose mantle we must take up anew with each successive generation of students and educators to address a new generation of intractable problems,” continued Zimmerman. “Thank you for allowing us to celebrate the ways in which your lives, like your art, inspire us all.”

Click here for the complete biographies of the Arts Hall of Fame inductees. For pictures from the Arts Hall of Fame event, please click here. For a list of other alumni awards, please click here.

Photo from left to right: Head of School Robert Zimmerman `98, William Messer `66, Jeffrey Harrison `76, Mitchell Block `68, Gary Pierce `67, Kellen Pomeranz `07.