March 29-April 4, 2002
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U.Va. to confer Thomas Jefferson medals in architecture and law
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U.Va. to confer Thomas Jefferson Medals in architecture and law
Former U.S. Solicitor General Waxman and artist James Turrell are this year’s recipients

By Jane Ford and Fariss Samarrai

Seth Waxman, former Solicitor General of the United States, and James Turrell, an artist whose groundbreaking work explores the perception and manipulation of light, will receive the 2002 Thomas Jefferson Medals in Law and Architecture.

The medals are the highest outside awards offered by the University, which grants no honorary degrees.

Waxman, a partner with the Washington law firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, will receive the 26th annual Thomas Jefferson Medal in Law. Turrell, whose work has influenced the disciplines of art, architecture and landscape architecture, will receive the 37th annual Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture.

The awards, sponsored jointly by the University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Inc. (the non-profit organization that owns and operates Monticello), will be presented as part of the University’s Founder’s Day celebration. The event usually is held on Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, but since that date falls on a Saturday, the presentations will be made April 12.

As part of the celebration, both recipients will give public lectures. Waxman will speak April 11 at 4:15 p.m. in Caplin Pavilion at the Law School. The title of his talk is, “On Ruby Ridge: Federalism, Law Enforcement and the Supremacy Clause.”
Turrell’s lecture, “The Other Horizon,” will be April 12 at 3:30 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall auditorium. There will be an exhibit of the artist’s work in the School of Architecture April 8-23.

Seth WaxmanSeth Waxman

Seth P. Waxman, a partner with the Washington law firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, served as the 41st Solicitor General of the United States in the Clinton Administration and has held several other senior positions in the federal government, including deputy attorney general.

“The solicitor general is the government’s lawyer before the Supreme Court. Seth Waxman discharged that responsibility with skill, integrity and dedication. In an era of partisan dispute and bitterness, he was respected by all,” said John C. Jeffries Jr., dean of the U.Va. School of Lasw.

Waxman has argued more than 30 cases in the Supreme Court and has tried and argued dozens of other high-profile civil and criminal cases in federal and state courts across the country. Widely considered to be among the country’s premier legal orators, he has received numerous awards, including the Department of Justice’s Edmund J. Randolph Award and the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award.

Waxman also has represented dozens of international corporations and corporate officers and directors, as well as senior federal and state governmsent officials, including a former President Richard M. Nixon.

Waxman is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College. He received his law degree from the Yale Law School, where he was managing editor of the Yale Law Journal.

James Turrell

James Turrell is internationally renowned for his installation art examining light’s relationship with the environment.

James Turrell“The selection of Turrell to receive the Jefferson Medal in Architecture reflects our desire to honor an artist whose work has informed the study and development of architectural space and the natural landscape through the study and manipulation of light,” said Karen Van Lengen, dean of the School of Architecture. “Turrell’s experiments in light have explored the use of artificial and natural light as a means of demonstrating the changing effects of light in the environment as well as its universal qualities. We are grateful for his contributions to the general field of architecture and landscape architecture.”

Turrell’s largest and most ambitious work to date — the Roden Crater in Flagstaff, Ariz. — will open in 2003. Since 1972, he has been transforming a natural crater into a large-scale work of art, using a network of tunnels and chambers that will enable people to experience light’s relationship to the surrounding sky, land and culture.

After graduating from Pomona College in California with a degree in perceptual psychology in 1965, Turrell turned his interests to art as a graduate student at the University of California at Irvine. There, he first experimented with perceptual interpretations of light as an art form.

Turrell’s first light piece, Afrum-Proto, used projected light to create a three-dimensional floating cube image in the corner of a room.

His work has since been exhibited around the world, from Denmark to Japan, including retrospectives at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.


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of the University of Virginia

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