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Nation's Top Artists Pick MICA

MICA is the art and design college of choice for this year’s Presidential Scholars in the Arts

Posted 07.17.08 by MICA Media Relations

Joanna Mitchell

BALTIMORE-Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the art and design college of choice for this year's Presidential Scholars in the Arts in the photography and visual arts categories.

Jennifer Liu of Highland, Md. (photography), Joanna Mitchell of Shaker Heights, Ohio (visual arts), and Joseph Parra of Boynton Beach, Fla. (visual arts) - who are also gold or silver level finalists in the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts' youngARTS competition -- will pursue their undergraduate educations at MICA this fall as part of the College's powerhouse freshmen class.

The Presidential Scholars program was established in 1964 to recognize and honor some of the nation's most distinguished high school seniors. The Scholars are selected by The Commission on Presidential Scholars based on accomplishments in many areas: academic and artistic success, leadership, and involvement in school and the community.

The commission named eight Presidential Scholars in the Arts this year: three in visual arts and one each in photography, poetry writing, short story writing, non-fiction writing, and cinematic arts.

Liu, Mitchell, and Parra selected MICA, the only art and design college that will welcome Presidential Scholars in the Arts this fall. The other five Scholars are headed to New York University, Princeton University, Stanford University, Vassar College, and Yale University.

Liu, a graduate of River Hill High School in Clarksville, Md., was impressed with MICA's role in cultivating a vibrant creative class in Baltimore.

"MICA is what makes Baltimore unique," she said. "The students get out into other parts of the city. It seems like a very exciting place to be. There's a lot of positive energy."

Liu plans to expose herself to a variety of art forms and mediums while at MICA.

"I am interested in the interdisciplinary sculpture program, but I am also hoping to experience fiber, video, and other arts," she said.

Mitchell, a graduate of Shaker Heights High School in Ohio, plans to major in interdisciplinary sculpture and minor in art history at MICA. She knew the College was the right fit for her after spending time on campus.

"The vibe I got at MICA was totally different from other art colleges I visited -- there's no snooty attitude," she said. "But I was most impressed with the excellent student artwork that was exhibited all over campus."

Parra, a graduate of the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Fla., said MICA's painting program had been on his radar for a while.

"It's really well-known," he said. "And after I took a workshop with painting professor Sangram Majumdar, MICA definitely seemed like the right choice for me."

The outstanding artists were nominated for the Presidential Scholars honor by the NFAA, which had already named them youngARTS finalists.

"The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts prizes its long and esteemed partnership with the Presidential Scholars program, and we are especially proud of all of this year's winners and participants in our youngARTS program," said Christina DePaul, the NFAA's new President and CEO. "As a former dean of the Corcoran College of Art and Design, I am very familiar with MICA, its programs, curriculum, and faculty, and I could not be more pleased that so many of our scholars will be studying together there this fall. These students are truly amazing young people who are bright, talented, and changing the face of the arts. I have no doubt we will see their names for many years to come."

For the youngARTS competition, panelists reviewed the work of more than 6,000 students and chose 150 finalists drawn from eight art forms: cinematic arts, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice, and writing.

The finalists received cash awards that ranged between $250 and $10,000 and were brought to Miami for youngARTS Week, an all-expense-paid week of master classes, showcase performances, exhibitions, enrichment programs, and final adjudications.

Besides Liu, Mitchell, and Parra, MICA's incoming freshmen class features four additional 2008 youngARTS finalists in the visual arts categories: Roman Arevalo of Miami, Fla.; Hannah Hill of Gadsden, Ala.; Devon Kronenberg of Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Gabrielle Vitollo of West Chester, Pa.

"I met all these kids at NFAA events and found out they were all really set on MICA," Vitollo said. "I know there's going to be some great talent in the freshmen class. I will be part of this huge, awesome team of artists."

Vitollo, who is interning with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program this summer, took courses at Delaware College of Art and Design as part of her rigorous homeschooling curriculum.

She has participated in MICA's Pre-College Studio Residency Program in Baltimore. Most recently, Vitollo traveled to Italy to study with Barry Nemett, chair of MICA's painting department, and Mark Karnes, who teaches drawing and painting at the College.

"I am probably going to major in painting and minor in literature because I've always been passionate about literature and philosophy," she said. "I draw a lot of my inspiration from what I read."

Justin Beasley of Baltimore, Md., a member of MICA's class of 2011, also earned the youngARTS finalist title.

Parra, Arevalo, Mitchell, and Kronenberg each have the distinction of being one of six gold level ($10,000) or silver level ($5,000) finalists in visual arts. In addition, Liu is one of three silver level finalists in the photography category for which there were no gold finalists.

Mitchell said the students became close after spending so much time together at NFAA or Presidential Scholars events.

"We've all agreed to call each other as soon as we arrive on campus," she said.

For more information about MICA's outstanding freshmen class, call 410-225-2300.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.