International, local Architects donate napkin sketches to scholarship auction

Dunwoody Architecture students and American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) chapter members have spent the last few months asking established architects for sketches of buildings—on paper napkins.

Kyle Huberty, James Matthes, Taylor Parker-Greene, Nick Schurhammer, Brenda Pliego-Geniz, Ryan Kelly, Devyn Smoter, Chris Eklund, Charles Evans  Bille (L to R) and Aaron McCauly-Aburto (not pictured)

Kyle Huberty, James Matthes, Taylor Parker-Greene, Nick Schurhammer, Brenda Pliego-Geniz, Ryan Kelly, Devyn Smoter, Chris Eklund, Charles Evans Bille (L to R) and Aaron McCauly-Aburto (not pictured)

The group of students voluntarily sent out more than 170 letters—reaching 25 different countries and 6 continents—to well-known architectural firms asking for architects to participate in their June 9 fundraiser: a silent auction event where attendees can bid on the one-of-a-kind sketches.

Proceeds from the event, which is titled “Process: Sketches from Masters to Students”, will fund study abroad scholarships for the Architecture students.

Why napkin art?

But, why sketches on napkins?

Well, according to AIAS Treasurer Taylor Parker-Greene and AIAS Chapter President Kyle Huberty, napkin art actually dates back many years, evolving from the notion that writers, artists and architects can’t help but sketch ideas on any form of medium within reach—many times napkins.

“There’s an age-long history to the concept,” Huberty said. “It’s the excessively creative person that just can’t stop. They’re in a restaurant talking–but still drawing something.”

The students explained they were further inspired by the idea of a napkin sketch auction after learning that a few other colleges have held similar, successful fundraisers.

The process

The group began their request earlier last year by first compiling a list of architects to approach for the project—many of whom included students’ inspirations and personal favorites. The students then worked to draft their initial “ask” letter.

However, Huberty and Parker-Greene said their main concern was having the bustling architects even notice—let alone open—the letter.

“We didn’t want it to be just another plain envelope asking for something,” Huberty said.

“We wanted to catch their eye,” Parker-Greene agreed.

So, on each envelope the students sketched a famous building designed by the architect, hoping the personal touch would pique their interest.

Examples of the student-drawn envelopes can be found below.

The student’s approach appears to have worked, as the group has since received 25 sketches back—including art from big names like Renzo Piano (Italy), Tom Wright (United Kingdom), Christopher Charles Benninger (India), and Cesar Pelli (United States). The students are also in the process of contacting local architects in the Twin Cities area.

Parker-Greene and Huberty say they are very excited for the event and the funds it could bring to their program.

To be able to “go to a new place, take tours, meet other architects—it really enriches the student experience,” Huberty said.

About the auction

The auction is scheduled for Thursday, June 9, from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Independent Filmmaker Project: 550 Vandalia St #120, St. Paul. Tickets are $40.

For questions on the event, or to RSVP, please contact arch@dunwoody.edu.