The awards for actor Viola Davis continue to pile up, as she was named Harvard's Artist of the Year 2017. Davis, who was named Best Supporting Actress for her role in 'Fences' at the Oscars earlier in the week, acknowledged her award at the Harvard Foundation's Cultural Rhythms Festival.
In her acceptance speech, Davis talked about her years at Julliard, a transformative experience she had as a student abroad in the Gambia, and the power of the arts. The New Yorker focused on Davis' Gambia experience in a December 2016 profile on the artist.
. .. the summer after her second year, Juilliard gave her a grant for a two-week study of dance, music, and folklore in Gambia. The experience was an antidote to the school’s orthodoxy. In Gambia, witnessing traditional ceremonies—baby naming, food preparation—Davis experienced communities in which art was not separated from life. “It wasn’t about technique; it was about the soul. In their zest for life, their need to connect to each other and to God—everything they did was done with extreme passion,” she said.