Thea Scholarship Winner Uses Art to Honor Veterans

Over the past two decades as an organization, Thea Foundation has celebrated young Arkansas talent through annual arts-based scholarship opportunities. In fact, the first scholarships were awarded to students who excelled in visual arts specifically before the program evolved to award students through competitions in performing arts, creative writing, fashion design, film, and slam poetry. We’ve awarded 437 scholarships to date, and it’s particularly rewarding to catch up with previous Thea scholarship winners as their goals evolve during their higher education experience. Most recently, we chatted with Cassie Jankowski, a 2020 visual arts scholarship winner who was homeschooled prior to attending Arkansas State University in Mountain Home.

Cassie’s scholarship-winning piece that she submitted to Thea’s competition earlier this year featured a striking portrait of her great grandfather, a Marine who endured three wars. Needless to say, our scholarship judges were moved by Cassie’s choice of subject matter as well as her incredible skills and the symbolism used throughout the piece.

In her artist statement, Cassie said:

It is my honor to continue his story. We do not see men like him enough. We do not see because we do not look, because we do not take the moments to listen to the stories of those in pain around us. Through artwork, I want to see. Through artwork, I want to help others to see the truth of humanity. Through artwork, I want to make the human experience overwhelming and completely impossible to ignore.

This fall, Cassie has spent her first semester of college beginning her studies to become a nurse. She utilizes her free time furthering her art, and veterans remain the focal point of her works. Cassie recently shared her latest piece titled Eyes of the Forgotten, which is a striking black and white portrait created with pointillism. She’s also had prints of her pieces produced at a local print shop so that she can share her art with veterans in her community.

Her good deeds in the Mountain Home community also extend to the ASU campus where Cassie filmed videos of local art galleries so that students know where to find the galleries on campus. In addition, she created presentations that were distributed across the campus website as part of ASU’s Heritage Appreciation Month. Each presentation was designed to show students the difference and similarities in artistic style across different cultures.

We’re incredibly proud of Cassie’s progress toward her goals over the short span of time we’ve known her. Thea Foundation is also deeply grateful for our scholarship winners who inspire us to look again at the core benefits of the exposure to the arts, including the arts capability to compel us to empathize with others and give us the opportunity to reflect on the human condition. Our statewide programs not only award talent, but also support arts education in K-12 public schools through both funding supplies in classrooms and facilitating professional development for teachers to expand their visual arts offerings.

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