Meredith Muller, MSM senior and art student, won the first place $4,000 visual arts scholarship in the Thea Foundation annual scholarship competition. Each year the program awards 30 college scholarships totaling $79,500 to Arkansas high school seniors from across the state in order to impact the lives of the state’s youth through art. Thea scholarships are matched or exceeded by more than 20 education partners in the state and the region who may additionally match up to $20,000 over four years for first-place scholarship recipients.
More than 200 high school seniors from across the state of Arkansas entered the Thea Foundation 2018 visual arts scholarship competition, and only ten were chosen as recipients of scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $4,000. This years theme was, “A visceral moment, occluded by one’s intellect.”
Meredith’s self-portrait in oil, “Polarity,” depicted the confusing and tumultuous experiences involved in the transition to adulthood. Her Artist’s Statement described the struggles many adolescents face when deciding right and wrong “in a society full of moral grey area.”
Meredith described the red light cast on most of the subject’s body as leading away from good decisions, and she explained, “The ‘visceral moment’ depicted would be to want to follow the path of least resistance and go along with the rest of the body even if it leads somewhere damaging in the end.” While the posture and positioning demonstrated the conflict within, Meredith explained that “the head alone is straining against the rest of the body to face the blue light, which symbolizes the logic, reasoning and intellect which combat those negative forces.”
Meredith’s painting was chosen the first-place winner on Saturday, March 3, when students gathered at the Thea Foundation in downtown North Little Rock to display their work to a panel of judges. Winners were selected based on the artist statement, interpretation of theme, and the originality and design of their work.
When asked what this experience has meant to her, Meredith said, “I’m super grateful overall, not just for the judging, but for everything in general — that I’ve been able to go to a school like this, to have the foundation to get me where I can pursue these things and succeed. Ms. Nolley’s an amazing teacher, and I probably never would have been able to thrive as an artist if I hadn’t had a teacher that noticed my potential and took the time to try to grow that.”
While Meredith said her plans will incorporate art at whichever college she chooses to attend, Thea scholarships are not awarded based on a student’s intent to major in the arts nor are they limited to the visual arts alone. High school seniors skilled in performing arts, film, fashion design, creative writing and slam poetry are encouraged to apply for scholarships as well. More information about Thea scholarships can be found on the Thea Foundation website:
The 2018 visual arts winning works are on display through April at the Thea Foundation in downtown North Little Rock. Congratulations to Meredith and all of this year’s Thea scholarship recipients!