October 26, 2018

2018 Alex Adam ’07 Award Winners Share Their Work

Established in memory of Alexander Jay Adam ’07 and made possible by a generous gift from his family, the Alex Adam ’07 Award provides support to Princeton undergraduates who will spend a summer pursuing a project that will result in the creation of new artistic work.

This year’s winners — Anna Berghuis ’19, Eli Berman ’20, and Cooper Young ’20 — shared recollections and excerpts of the work they created this summer while pursuing independent artistic studies made possible by the award. In attendance were faculty and staff of the Lewis Center along with Alex Adam’s parents Laszlo and Winky, and his brother Nick.


photo by Allegra Dobson

This summer, Anna Berghuis, an art history and visual arts major, followed the path of her paternal ancestors who were exiled from Germany to Holland during the Protestant Reformation. Berghuis documented her quest and the people she met through digital photography. Last summer, Berghuis received Lewis Center funding to trace her maternal ancestral history through portrait photography in Eastern Europe and Russia, where her ancestors were persecuted for being Jewish. Through portraits of local people, Berghuis created what she calls the second chapter of her quest to trace her lineage, culminating in the Netherlands, where the Berghuis family eventually settled. Berghuis’ project, through the mode of photography, oil painting, and drawing, confronts identity, family, religion, persecution and belonging.

Oil paintings by Anna Berghuis

photo by Margaret Li

Eli Berman, an early concentrator in music, delved into the art of genderqueer music as a non-binary transgender composer-vocalist this summer, working under the guidance of notable experimental musicians and professors in Los Angeles and Berkeley, California including Ken Ueno, Carmina Escobar, and Voice Science Works (Laurel Irene and David Harris). During the summer, Berman crafted a performance art piece that explores how personal, gendered experiences like sexual trauma/liberation and gender dysphoria can inform approaches to various vocal techniques, compositional structures, and music-making processes.

This past year, Berman began investigating some of these relationships in original works like Fingering Myself, which was workshopped and performed by the Grammy Award-winning vocal octet Roomful of Teeth, and a recently commissioned piece, It Happened Again, which was recently premiered by the Eschaton Ensemble of Vanderbilt University. Currently, Berman is completing their first junior paper with a series of structured, improvisational modules that explore social identity and decision making in musical ensembles. Recently, Berman also sang at the Morgan Library and Museum in a concert of music by Eve Beglarian, Princeton Class of 1980, that was positively reviewed by The New York Times. This past summer, Berman sought to couple their recent development as both a composer and a vocalist by expanding their research on genderqueer identity in music composition to include explorations in vocal performance practice. Berman also spent part of the summer at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta, Canada, where they were accepted as a part of the (R)evolution: Resonant Bodies residency to study with prominent vocalists such as Tony Arnold, Pamela Z, Lucy Dhegrae, and Anthony Roth Costanzo, Princeton Class of 2004.

Hear a brief excerpt from Berman’s piece, “First Contact”:


photo courtesy of Cooper Young

Cooper Young spent eight weeks in Japan, tracing a journey poet Matsuo Bashö took 330 years ago as he crafted his own poetic travel experience. Beginning in Tokyo, Young visited every major city along Bashö’s route while immersing himself in local culture and gathering enough material for a book-length manuscript. His trip culminated in Kyoto, where he paid his respects at Basho’s grave, assembled his writings, and connected with fellow poets in the area. Basho is considered the greatest master of the poetic form known as haiku. Below, a few of Young’s haiku:


By Buson’s grave,
a lizard drinks rainwater
from a sake cup.

June 30, Buson’s grave


The pond at night—
green tea
in a black cup.

July 11, Imperial Palace Pond


Even on Kyoto’s local train,
the engine hums,
and I miss Kyoto.

August 4, Otsu—but thinking of Kyoto


Dragonflies painted on silk—
no wind
to raise the flag.

August 15, Bashō’s grave in Otsu



While a student at Princeton, Alex Adam pursued artistic interests in creative writing and theater. Joyce Carol Oates, his creative writing professor, praised his work as “sharp-edged, unexpectedly corrosive and very funny.” He was also an actor, and performed with the Princeton Shakespeare Company, Theatre Intime, and the Program in Theater. “Friends, classmates and faculty remember Adam as a kind and gentle spirit, with a genuine interest in others,” recalls Michael Cadden, Chair of the Lewis Center. “These awards lovingly created in his memory enable other students to take artistic risks and, if they’re lucky, to move to the next level of achievement.”

For more information about summer funding at the Lewis Center, visit funding

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