Catalina Marin spent the summer up to her elbows in clay at a small art community in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
For two weeks, Marin joined artists from around the country at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. There she participated in intensive pottery workshops and connected with artists of different backgrounds from all over the world.
Marin worked for hours in the studio every day, mastering handbuilding techniques which she used to sculp beautiful creations out of clay.
Marin’s summer at Penland was made possible by the Ethel Sobel Brody Scholarship, which supports undergraduate art education majors at the University of South Carolina School of Visual Art and Design. In addition to providing tuition support, the scholarship sends recipients to the Penland summer program.
“Receiving the Brody scholarship was a huge relief for both me and my parents, who help me pay for college,” Marin says. “But more than that, the Penland program was a life-changing experience.”
As a first-generation student of Colombian parents, Marin says it was one of the first times she felt completely at home in an art studio, thanks to Penland’s inclusion efforts in staffing and admissions.
“I go into most art spaces expecting that I won’t see a lot of people who look like me,” Marin says. “But at Penland, there were artists from all over. We were all encouraged to be ourselves without fear of judgement.”
Marin says her time at Penland brought her not just an opportunity to explore her creative talents, but it also informed a philosophy she’ll carry into her personal and professional life.
“’Let’s play.’” Marin says, quoting what her Penland instructor would say at the start of every class.
“I really agree with the idea that art is supposed to be fun. Art doesn't have to be intimidating and deep all the time.”
A similar passion for play connected Marin to the art education major. She originally enrolled as an early education major because she loves working with children, but she missed making art herself.
She says art education combines the best of both worlds by helping her hone her creative talent and allowing her to share it through teaching.
“Art allows kids to have a creative outlet,” Marin says. “I love how excited the students are for art; they’re so passionate.”
More art, more possibilities
Even before meeting the encouraging instructors at Penland, Marin says she received unmatched support from her art professors at South Carolina.
One of her professors, Olga Ivashkevich, noticed Marin’s talent for both art and teaching and reached out to her about applying for the Brody scholarship.
“I was really happy with what I was studying,” Marin says, “but taking Olga’s class made me realize how passionate I am about it. She thought I was a good candidate for the scholarship.”
The scholarship has allowed Marin to pursue her purpose, which she continues to discover as graduation approaches. As a soon-to-be graduate, Marin says she’s still figuring out what’s next.
Whether it’s continuing into graduate school, becoming an art educator, finding work as a studio assistant or taking time to build on her skills as a studio artist, Marin says she’s thankful to have options.
And she is equally excited for what lies ahead for the next Brody scholar.
“I’m so excited for the person who got the scholarship after me because I know it will be life-changing for them as well.”