Congratulations to our Spring 2016 scholarship winners!

It is with great pleasure that The Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation announces the winners for its Art Scholarship for students studying Fine Art and Art History/Museum studies. The Art Scholarship Program was established to help art students meet the diverse educational needs of today’s professional art and museum world and we hope that the Scholarship Award will aid these talented students along their artistic/professional journey.  We wish them all the best of luck in their future endeavors!

Alessandra Leo – Fine Art scholarship winner

“Thank you so much. This scholarship really helps me continue to do what I love and I couldn’t be happier.”

Alessandra Leo PIC

“My name is Alessandra Leo, I am an artist from Des Moines, Iowa, with Italian descent. My goal in life is to communicate my thoughts of the world through my art. I think one of the biggest problems artists have is being able to communicate their concept in a way their audience understands. We live a world where human perspective changes everything, I want to make sure others know their thoughts inside their head aren’t wrong and their flaws make them the perfect person they are. I am by no means perfect, and I know no one else out there is too, but as human beings we spend so much time worrying about issues, we forget to spread the love and truth. My art is made for others, for people to know they aren’t alone and the feelings they keep inside their head is what we are all feeling. We are all the same inside, desire the same things, need the same things, so why not help each other out? That’s why I’m an artist.”

“I spent my entire childhood submerged in the world of my imagination. It’s silly to even say that, because I STILL AM engulfed in my imagination. My childhood consisted of cartoons and animations. I wasn’t your typical 7 year old girlie girl that had everything pink and thought she was a princess. I was the tomboy who was always made fun of, and never talked to, but talked about. The only way I remember getting out of my childhood embarrassment and humiliation was by watching animated cartoons. There was something about the story in the cartoon, and how imperfectly perfect all the characters were that made me so happy. One particular cartoon I constantly watched was Kim Possible. An American animated television show created by Disney about a teenage girl crime fighter who had the task of dealing with worldwide, family, and school issues everyday. Catch was that she was a Tomboy, just like me! I imagined myself as Kim Possible everyday, fighting off the bad bullies at my school, and being loved and appreciated by all my classmates.”

“Unfortunately that never happened, and I grew up just a normal kid. Even though my wish to be Kim Possible did not come true, I’m so grateful that animated show got me through rough times in my childhood. My goal is to become an artist and someday work with big animation studios to create cartoons and stories that young kids can relate to and turn to, to make them happy. The childhood is the most important part of a person’s life, and I believe a childhood makes a person who they are. One of my biggest dreams is to show kids through art and animation, that it’s okay to be different, and to teach them love, respect, care, loyalty, but also evil, mean, rude, so they will know how to deal with it in their life. My educational objectives are to go to school to learn how to draw the human figure better, learn how to 2D and 3D animate, learn how and why humans act the way they do when interacting with others, collaborate with other artists in making the world a stronger place, learn how to network, and connect with others (especially kids) to be informed on what is going through their mind and what they want to see in cartoons (superheroes, princesses, racecars, normal kids, etc.).”

“I am an Honors student, attending the University of Iowa. As of right now I have a GPA of 3.8 and on the Dean’s List. At school, I am apart of the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Tae Kwon Do Club and compete in Tae Kwon Do tournaments and competitions with them. I am the club’s Webmaster and artist, making their logos and designing and in charge of the social networking pages. I also am apart of the Life Drawing and Art Club at the university. Every other day we meet for 2-3 hours to draw from a model, or still life. My achievements include being a black belt, an Honors student, on the Dean’s List, being in art shows, selling $326 worth of baked goods for the University of Iowa’s bake sale, organized Arts Fest for the University of Iowa, established good relationships with local artists, completed a portfolio of most recent work, representing the Des Moines Italian community by participating in Italian Queen contest, and designed and sketched cartoon ideas for future plans.”

garlic 9x12 2013sized

pomegranate 10.5x15 2013sized

Sinclair Spratley – Art History/Museum Studies scholarship winner

“Thank you so much for this honor and award! I cannot express how grateful I am for being selected for one of the Undergraduate Art Scholarships.”


“I am a third year art history student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center.  I am originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico and I draw inspiration, as a scholar and a lover of art, from the natural beauty of the landscape and the history of the area.  I am currently studying for a semester at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where I am taking history of art classes along with a course on writing about art and a course on Scottish Literature.  My future plans include post-graduate work either on a Ph.D. track or a museum studies track depending on what I am interested in once I apply.  I would love to work in a museum as a curator one day but I am also open the many opportunities a degree in art history provides.  For me, art opens up worlds that are not regularly accessible.  I have a large interest in history and context and art gives me a tactile, emotional connection to the world and the stories and endeavors of the past.”

“I started out pretty terribly in my very first art history class. It was my senior year of high school and to be quite honest, I decided to take AP Art History as a nice, throwaway class. I soon learned that art history was a lot harder than I anticipated. I think it was after the second or third week, with prehistoric and Mesopotamic art out of the way, that I realized I was in over my head. Art history was so different from any other class I had ever been in. I have always been good at history. My brain is geared towards memorization and applying it to different contexts and situations. I thought art history would be the same but with the addition of nice-looking paintings and sculptures. Little did I know art history inhabited an academic world of its own. I struggled the whole first semester of my ap art history class, forgetting essential pieces, mixing cultures and movements up. I had the hardest time with the formal aspects of producing art, both in the material production but also in identifying formal components in a composition. I had never taken a visual art class before so words like line, shadow, and color held very little meaning for me. My teacher tried to convince me I was not cut out for art history. Then suddenly, when I got back from winter break, something inside of me clicked. I am still not exactly certain what happened but I started having a new clarity in my art history class. I was making connections and analyzing things in a new way. I finally started enjoying going to class and speaking up. Later in that same semester I had a short internship at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History where I worked under the head curator of art, assisting in setting up two upcoming exhibits. For me these two things, a newfound clarity and an amazing internship, solidified in me a love for art and the history of art.”

“Now, as a junior, well-established in my art history major, I spend as much time as I can within the various museums and galleries in New York City. Besides the sanctuary-like feeling of these places, I also feel a connection to the work I want to do in the future and to an underlying spirit that art provides. I hope to move onto graduate school where I can participate in either a curatorial or museum studies program and then go to work in a museum. I would be satisfied working at any museum in the country as long as I got to do what I love which is interacting and understanding art both through the artist’s relationship to the piece and to a viewer’s relationship to the piece and the space it is in. Being from the southwest originally, I have an interest in how the art scenes in various cities in Texas and in Santa Fe, New Mexico can be bolstered and popularized so that they can rival the art scene in New York. I am also highly interested in research and I hope to do research next summer on contemporary black American art. Lastly, I am also interested in traveling and experiencing art abroad. In the summer of 2014 I went to Rome to study art there for a month. I am also lucky enough to spend next semester, spring 2016, studying at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I hope to bring my passion for visual culture and language to Scotland and better understand the nation and its people through that lens. For me, a career in art history was not in the cards until right before I went to college. I didn’t realize that I could combine my highly visual nature with my knack for contextualizing and synthesizing historical information in a way that would be useful for my future. If it wasn’t for my challenging AP Art History class, I am not exactly sure where I would be right now. I certainly would not be going to school in New York pursuing my dream of working in museums. I would not have the same sense of place and purpose. Becoming well acquainted with the history of art opened my eyes in so many different ways. I see the world differently than I did before and I can imagine beauty in almost all I see.”

Sinclair’s winning essay:

“The watercolor works of both Frederic and Eileen Whitaker evoke a defined sense of time and place through naturalistic representations of scenes from their worlds. For Frederic Whitaker, painting took on an outward sense, projected through meticulous rendering of various subjects including nudes, landscapes, and architecture. Frederic worked hard reproducing what he saw, relying on the truth of an image and presentation to sensitively relay a moment. Frederic’s work does inhabit, in the truest sense, the idea of looking outward and working rationally. However, this rationality in his work does not drain it of emotionality. Instead, emotionality is expressed in the straight-forward awe and beauty of a scene, whether it be an architectural work, a lush landscape, or a nude figure. The use of watercolor brings in an airy, almost nostalgic sense to his many paintings. This rationality allowed for Frederic to depict scenes that would be familiar and comforting to viewers. In his architectural paintings, one can think of themselves in the scene. This externalization of art invites the viewer in and makes them as active in the Frederic’s composition as the subject itself.”

“If Frederic’s work represents the external and rational, then Eileen Whitaker’s work exemplifies an artist looking inside herself to work from intuition and an innate understanding of a subject. While the subject matter of Frederic and Eileen’s work often aligns, we can see this internalization of subject through her still-life paintings which depict more mystical and spiritual subjects. Also, her interest in the southwest and Mexico brings in a sense of underlying spirituality that must come from inside her. While her works are all highly representational, they inhabit a realm of emotionality that is not obtainable through nostalgia or the external but by viewing the pieces and then looking in on oneself. Eileen bring this internalization of art and subject into mythological figure studies that could represent figures both real and mythical. The figures interact with one another and with nature in a way that brings ideas of primordial emotionality. Reason and the outside world make no difference in these compositions. What is present is an internal, spiritual sense of the self and the universe. By placing the work of Frederic and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker up next to each other we can see how they were able to balance a cycle of internal and external understandings of the world, art, and the subject. There is a sense that you could not have one without the other, and this harmony brings the two into an endless, perfect circle, one where reciprocation happens naturally.”

Kira Schnitzler – Fine Art scholarship winner

“I want to express my utmost appreciation to the foundation for being selected for this scholarship. I am honored, thank you very much.”


“I was born in Münster Germany and grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago. At around four years old, I began drawing. It became a nearly obsessive hobby throughout adolescence- I spent hours almost every day practicing, going through stacks of paper and numerous sketchbooks. The discipline was a source of comfort for me, and drawing became a vital practice in processing my personal thoughts and feelings. I kept an academically rigorous track during high school with the intention of later pursuing a degree in biology or environmental law. It was during my junior year that I began painting, and developed an absolute affinity towards it. Ultimately with the encouragement of my art teacher, I decided to continue pursuing my art. I am currently in the second year of pursuing my BFA in painting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”

“My work is driven by a deep love of people, and in particular I am interested now in exploring the human condition in my art: universal beauty, moments in time, and particularly the depth and complexity of human relationships- their intimacy, their feeling, their psychology, and their breaking points. Major conceptual and artistic influences of mine have been Malcolm Liepke, Gustav Klimt, and Edouard Manet.”

“Art, for me, has always been a method of understanding my world on an intrinsic level. I have been drawing and painting as a hobby my whole life. However as I have grown, I have begun to use art in order to understand my external world as well. In high school, I had always been incredibly studious. I remained on an honor roll track, and took 9 AP courses. I had full intentions of continuing on and acquiring a degree in law or medicine. But as I neared graduation, I felt compelled to abandon those ambitions for something that spoke deeper to me. I began to understand the particular power of art as a vessel of communication, one with the ability to exceed even the barriers of language, and speak directly to the human conscious. With that, I took up setting out to create a career path in art.”

“At this time, my art is primarily fueled by a deep love for people and an intense desire to sympathize with my fellow man. I am fascinated by the way that we human beings experience this grand and endlessly complex thing that is life. In particular, I am most uniquely drawn to examining the types of intimacies and relationships that we form between one another: where they begin, how they fall apart, and how our lives are changed by those connections. In my work, I often find myself creating from both a place of tenderness, as well as one of critical examination. In the oncoming future, I hope to continue on to graduate school and get my MFA in painting. With that, I want to dedicate myself fully to my practice, and over time I hope to truly refine my personal voice and develop a body of work that speaks to people on numerous levels of thought and feeling. From high school, when I designed and created two murals for the building, I have developed a desire to make more work for the public. Currently at my university, I have started my own student organization called the Public Arts Coalition. In it, I coordinate 12 other student artists in designing and creating temporary public art installations, so that we can share our love of art with other students on campus. After several years of practicing explicitly as an artist, I hope to become a university professor so that I might still be able to continue my artistic practice while simultaneously encourage and stimulate that same type of love and skill in others. I love learning, and hope to stay around academia for as long as I can. More importantly, I hope to continue a life pursuing art for as long as I can.”

Stags in Training 2015 9x16

Stags in Training  9 x 16 inches  2015

Adolescent Rising 2015 11x17

Adolescent Rising   11 x 17 inches  2015

We would like to thank all of our applicants and welcome you to apply again during our next term which will commence on March 1st, 2016!