Visionary Leadership Award

About the Visionary Leadership Award

The Visionary Leadership Award honors a leader whose trailblazing work is impacting the world, connecting the Festival's Ideas programs to every day impacts on the community and the world. The award honor and its associated events occur outside the annual Festival, and proceeds from the benefit luncheon go to the The Jean Handley Fund for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas.

Created in honor of the late Jean M. Handley’s leadership as a Founding Director of the Festival, the Visionary Leadership Award honors Ms. Handley's vision and leadership in building community and founding the Festival. The Handley Fund supports Festival programs representing the values and passions of Ms. Handley.

Past Recipients

4th annual: Sheila Nevins, documentary film producer
3rd: Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Award Winning Journalist and Activist
2nd: Jill Abramson, Executive Editor of The New York Times
1st: Zainab Salbi, Founder & CEO of Women for Women International

About the Commemorative Award

Pictured above, the Festival’s Visionary Leadership Award is embodied in Hartford-born contemporary art visionary Sol LeWitt’s ceramic plate Star (1984).

A Connecticut native, much like Jean Handley, Mr. LeWitt drew inspiration from his home state where he worked and shaped his artistic ideas. Described by Time magazine as “the man who made conceptual art an appealing concept…introducing a human factor into what could otherwise have been a mechanical process,” Sol loved to make decorative objects, and used to travel regularly to collaborate with local artisans to the town of Deruta in the Umbria region of central Italy, known worldwide for its ceramics.

The tile, from a series that LeWitt made in the mid 1980s ranging from 3 point to 10 point stars, is a traditional 5 point star. The plate was painted at the small factory LaGioconda, where the crystalline glaze and second firing distinguishes the pottery and gives the ceramic its legendary shine and opulence. The International Festival of Arts & Ideas thanks the LeWitt Family for commissioning and donating this Award.