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Art history student and professor win Portland State’s Kamelia Massih arts prize
Author: Ann Prater, College of the Arts
Posted: June 17, 2014

Portland State University’s College of the Arts has awarded this year’s Kamelia Massih Outstanding Student and Faculty Prizes in the Arts to art history professor Sue Taylor and graduating senior Morgan Kelly.

Sue Taylor, this year’s faculty honoree, teaches modern art history in the School of Art and Design. She is described in her nomination as “intelligent, articulate and passionate about what she does.” Taylor’s rigorous scholarship in the fields of modern and contemporary art, feminism and psychoanalysis is reflected in her teaching, research and publishing as well as her advocacy for the work of Northwest artists. Through her regular critical writing and thoughtful analyses, she brings national attention to regional culture while modeling for students an ardent intellectual engagement with the art of our time. Her colleagues say she is a tireless and generous mentor and an ex
cellent teacher, who “regularly creates avenues for her students to hone their critical and presentation skills in pursuit of outstanding scholarship and performance.” 

This year’s student recipient is Morgan Kelly, who graduated cum laude with a double major in art history and black studies and a minor in film. Kelly has undertaken a number of community service activities, including teaching art and art history to children in after-school programs. In her scholarship, she has brought fresh insights to art history from black studies, reflecting, as in her volunteer efforts, a commitment to inclusion and positive social change. In nominating Kelly for this award, her professor applauds her “unswerving personal strength and character” and believes her “capable of transforming her chosen field and the world.” Kelly has been accepted to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, where she will integrate her interests in art, race and gender, and media studies. 

The Kamelia Massih Endowment for the Arts was established upon the passing of former PSU student Kamelia Massih on May 19, 2010 with memorial gifts from friends, family and colleagues, as well as by a donation from Massih’s brother, PSU alumnus Fariborz Maseeh through his Massiah Foundation.

A beloved Portland optometrist, Kamelia Massih was a true American success story. Born and raised in Tehran, she came to the United States in 1978, initiating her studies in biology at Portland State University and subsequently graduating in 1981 from Oregon State University. After completing a doctorate in optometry at Pacific University, she opened her own practice, Beaverton Vision World, in 1989. She later opened a second clinic in downtown Portland near the Portland State University campus. She cared deeply about others and gave her time and resources to a wide range of national charities. She was a dedicated wife and mother who loved travel, the outdoors, and above all else, fine arts, music and dance. 

The Kamelia Massih Outstanding Student and Faculty Prizes in the Arts recognize those individuals who bring innovation to their discipline, demonstrate excellence in performing and/or fine arts and exemplify PSU’s commitment to community engagement.