Recognizing the Woodbury SoA Community in Celebration of Black History Month - Part 1

In a multi-part celebration of Black History Month, Woodbury School of Architecture reflects on some of its past Alumni Spotlights. 2020 was a trying year, and as we look ahead, we are inspired and encouraged by the diligence, grit, and passion, of our alumni and collaborators. Each individual acknowledged here has challenged the status quo, pursued unorthodox paths, and has used their design aptitudes to push the profession to new levels.

If you are an alumnus or know one whose work should be featured in our Spotlight series, please let us know! And stay tuned for Part 2 of our celebration next week, where we will look at the exciting work and developments of other members of our community, including Students and Faculty.



Germane Barnes (MArch ’12)

Germane Barnes is one of the featured artists in Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, a new exhibition on view at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) beginning this February. Germane’s work investigates the connection between architecture and identity and the social and political agency inherent in architectural practice. He is an Assistant Professor and the Director of The Community Housing & Identity Lab (CHIL) at the University of Miami School of Architecture.



Demar Matthews

Last year, after completing his MArch thesis at Woodbury, Demar Matthews founded OffTop Design, a Los Angeles-based studio with a mission to improve the built environment in black neighborhoods through architecture and design. Demar’s design practice grew from his thesis research. Today. Demar is working on projects in Los Angeles and beyond and he has been featured in publications including Dwell, Archinect, and Forbes.



Cheryal Kearney (Interior Design ’69)

Cheryal Kearny’s career as a set decorator has spanned over 40 years, including winning an Emmy Award for her role on the film “Gaugin, The Savage.” She is credited in over 50 films and television series. In 2017, she was recognized with the Earl Cooperman Lifetime Achievement Award from the Set Decorators Society of America. She continues to do small projects and shows with friends and filmmakers.



Sean Joyner (BArch ’16)

Sean Joyner is Woodbury School of Architecture’s new Director of Communications. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member. Sean has been a staff writer at Archinect for the past two years and has contributed several notable essays and articles covering themes ranging from racial equity, professional development, mental resilience, and academia.



Janna Ireland (Julius Shulman Institute)

Janna Ireland has devoted the last four years of her career to driving the streets of Los Angeles, seeking out some of the more than 3,000 projects designed by Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams. Her newly published book, Regarding Paul R. Williams: A Photographer’s View, was published in September of last year. Ireland’s journey started in 2016 when Barbara Bestor, Director of Woodbury’s Julius Shulman Institute, tapped her for an exhibition at Woodbury’s gallery.


Sergio (left) with partner, Sonia-Lynn Abenojar


Sergio Legon-Talamoni (MArch ’15)

In addition to his role as co-founding principal at his own practice, La Union Studio, Sergio is currently appointed by the Mayor to the International Special Review District Board, a historic preservation board tasked with reviewing applications for certificates of approval for use and exterior alterations and upholding the cultural and historical fabric within the district. Sergio has a special passion for engaging with communities and harnessing architecture as a tool for change.



John Leath

John Leath is the owner of Eyemjonarthur Photography as a personal brand photographer and he currently serves on the Woodbury School of Architecture Advisory Board. With a background in high school education, John is passionate about mentorship and the next generation of creative people. After studying in the Interior Design program at Woodbury, John harnessed his design education to work on solutions for the homeless population.


Photo: Woodbury’s Agency for Civic Engagement (ACE) project. Walk Watts.


Ways to Give Back: Social Justice Scholarships

Support Woodbury School of Architecture students by giving to the Social Justice Scholarship Fund. Woodbury SoA is committed to increasing participation of groups that have been underrepresented and underserved in higher education and in the professional disciplines. Find out how you can support the School through the Design Justice initiative to guarantee access, opportunity, and advancement for all.


Image Credit: Germane Barnes. Miami Porch Portrayals. 2020. Digital print collage, 17 x 17″ (43.2 x 43.2 cm). Image courtesy of the artist. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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