2012 D*S Scholarship Finalists: High School Voting!

by Grace Bonney

After weeks of applications and thousands of entries, the 2012 D*S Scholarship is closed, and the finalists have been chosen! Tomorrow we’ll start voting for the college and graduate school contestants, but today I’m happy to share the top five finalists for our first-ever high school award. This year, I wanted to extend the competition to an even younger audience that’s just getting started with their art and design careers. These talented young people are exploring photography, drawing and painting with such passion, and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Since we’re doing a single prize for this new group, I narrowed our finalists to five, and now it’s up to you to choose your favorite. Thank you again to all of the high school students who took the time to enter — you all have such bright futures ahead of you, and I hope to see you again for the college and graduate awards! xo, grace

Thanks again to O’More College of Design, West Elm, BRIKA and Parsons for generously donating this year’s awards


Finalists are listed in alphabetical order

Jackson Brinkley
Jackson is interested in photography and currently attends Hopewell Academy in Cary, NC. You can see more of his work right here.

Who/What inspires your work: “I suppose growth and change inspire my work, I’m always looking for some odd spot i could climb to or a new place i could go to take a picture, and if i find that spot beautiful or interesting or odd, ill take a picture. Im also inspired by the fleeting qualities in all things, I like to capture things that may never be as they were again.”

Where do you hope to be in five years: “I hope to have travelled outside of the country and taken pictures while perhaps helping others. I hope to still be using analog as a way of creating my work. I hope to be able to intern at National Geographic. I hope to be able to share my work with others and be well received. I hope to give back to that which has given me life, the earth.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship: “I should win this years scholarship so that I can help keep analog photography alive for future generations to enjoy. I would use it to pay for college, help out the photography department.”

Pia Graham
Pia is studying visual arts at Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto, Canada. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work: “There is very little conceptual meaning behind my art but what I value most is the power I think I portray through my work. Expressing strength through what I create is important to me because it is something I feel like I cannot express otherwise. I’m inspired by the impact imagery can have on the world around us. I’m greatly inspired by artists like Ai Weiwei because they have managed to change the world through their art and they did not just do this to make their voice heard but to give the powerless a voice. To inspire and provoke thought through my art like that would be the ultimate achievement.”

Where do you hope to be in five years: “I hope to be finishing school and/or doing an internship in the field of design or visual communications. Maybe even further establishing my art.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship: “I know that I have the potential and drive to apply myself in the art and design industries. With the means to further my education I will have a fighting chance to do what I am most passionate about. I would use this prize money to pay for my future studies that will set me on my way to achieving my full potential.”

Alex Kimball
Alex is interested in pencil drawing and origami and attends Lambert High School in Georgia. You can see more of his work here.

Who/What inspires your work: “In drawing, I would say I am mostly inspired by Salvador Dali and his surrealist works. I really like the way he paints extremely realistically, even though he paints strange, dreamlike subjects. In origami I am mostly inspired by Hideo Komatsu and Eric Joisel. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years: “I hope to become a concept artist or an animator for movies and video games. I am particularly interested in projects similar to James Cameron’s Avatar.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship: “I think I should win because I am very passionate about my work, and winning the scholarship would allow me to purchase ZBrush. This computer program would allow me to develop my skills in 3D sculpting and animation.”

Tiffany Vander Laan
Tiffany is interested in interior design and photography and attends Manchester Essex Regional High School in Massachusetts. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work: “Being half Japanese in a majorly white community, I have had some struggle against my identity. The differences in my appearance and family in comparison to my peers made me feel self-conscious. Through my work I express myself in a perceptive that embraces my individuality and the expression of my emotions about my environment and about myself.

“Every day I want to demolish my house. My mind’s wrecking ball could crash the drab walls and heap its debris across the popcorn carpet. The creaky bunk beds of brown oak lacquer and black matte metal would tumble. The linoleum floor would continue its crack into the depths of Hell. And under remnants of discolored wood paneling, the carpet stained by cat barf would never be seen again.

“I did not have the privilege to be raised in a designer home, but I was raised by a designer. My mother, a Japanese immigrant, studied fashion as a young woman — her creativity nurtured my childhood. She used to give my sister and me her sketch book and designer’s supplies which our tiny toddler hands would use to create disastrous scribbles and self-portraits which looked more like potatoes. My mother made ready-to-wear outfits for us throughout the 1990s; photos of its evidence flicker through family albums. Picture: Me, a 4-year-old munchkin of Japanese-Dutch face with short, brown curly hair and a muumuu dress, its color a splash of throw up and rust . . . Not an impressive choice of fabric, per se, but regardless, a symbol of my mother’s influence on me.

“Despite a few fashion faux pas sewn in my childhood, my mother was and continues to be my inspiration to design. Her attempts to reconcile the beauty of our home — painting mint green walls to brighten the moldy bathroom, making new couch covers to distract from the dingy family room, and purchasing paintings of seaside harbors (the classic New England indulgence) — where necessary to make me feel our house had a chance to improve. I know our house is my mother’s domain of design, her canvas of aesthetic private power.

“My mother grieves that she did not succeed as a designer and now she works in sewing drapery and in retail; distant from her fashion designer dreams. She warns me how hard it is to become successful and celebrated, and she has been apprehensive about my aspiration to design . . . but her uncertainty inspires me to become certain.

“My mother’s defeated professional dreams and the home she sought to improve have influenced my own desire to create beautiful things. Though I have fostered some bitterness for my environment, its qualities redeem intrinsic values to me. The design of my work shows the beauty, values, memories, and even resentments that have taken place within me and my surroundings.”

Where do you hope to be in five years: “In five years time, I hope that I will be working in collaboration with other designers, namely in interior design. In 2018, at the age of 22, I will have graduated from a four-year fine arts program or will be enrolled in my final year of a five-year fine arts program depending on the college choice that I am anxious to make for the fall of 2013. I hope that by my final year of college, I will be committed to an internship position which would help me gain experience in the work field. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in interior design, I would love to work in partnership with a professional residential design firm. I believe I am skilled in my insight as well as cooperation with others, so in five years when I am fresh with the knowledge of my studies I think it would be most beneficial to work in the industry in order to further my understanding of working with clients and the process of designing a residential space.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship: “I should receive this year’s high school student scholarship because I have persevered through self-taught art skills and I believe I have a talent in aesthetic design that has manifested itself into my daily life. My family and I would be grateful for the reward that could contribute to my college tuition fund. In a financial hardship, my parents are anticipating the cost of my college education in addition to the rising cost that they are already tolerating with my older sister’s university. As I dream of an esteemed fine arts study in interior design at one of my top choice schools (Pratt Institute, Parsons The New School for Design, and Concordia University in Montreal), I think about my reliance on my parents: how much will my family pay for the quality of my education? This question claims a struggle for my family and me as I desire to surround myself with compatible designers in a lively environment, however, the cost of living in such brilliant places stays high. For that reason, I am hoping to win this year’s high school student award in order to relieve my parents a portion of the cost for my college education next year.”

Helen Westergren
Helen is interested in studying wearable sculpture and attends H-B Woodlawn in Virginia. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work: “I am greatly inspired by artists like Tara Donovan, Nick Cave, Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusama, and JR. They all have such a unique perspective and have inspired me to create different pieces that are created out of one item repeated over and over again, make sound when they move, or focus on fears until they lose all meaning. I am particularly inspired by JR’s Women project because I love the idea that art can be used not only the beautify a space but also to help those who are living there.

“The gardens of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens in Georgetown also greatly inspire me. I am currently working on a collection based on the various motifs and images found in the gardens. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years: “In five years I will most likely be starting graduate school or looking for my first job. I’d love to work up in New York and incorporate my need to be creative into whatever I am doing.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship: “I think I should win this scholarship money because I feel I have abilities across a range of medias and I am making work that is not typical of a highschooler. If I win the prize money, it will definitely go into my college fund so I can work on my art at a higher level. ”


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Suggested For You


Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.