Rustin High School Senior to Attend Prestigious Art School

Rustin High School Senior to Attend Prestigious Art School

Grace Mox's painting "School Bus"  Grace Mox's painting Refrigerator Reflection

Much like her paintings that come to life with each stroke of her paintbrush, Grace Mox sees her future starting to take shape. The Rustin High School senior recently won an Excellence in Art Award at the Chester County High School Art Show and will attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in the fall.

After Mox received her acceptance to PAFA, she was given the opportunity by school officials in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, to enter a "Challenge Portfolio" for the chance to win one of the school's two coveted Maguire Scholarships. Mox was one of ten students invited to participate in the challenge. PAFA's arrangement with The University of Pennsylvania enables students to take liberal arts classes at Penn, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from two of Philadelphia's most prestigious higher learning institutions.  Founded in 1805, PAFA is the oldest art museum and school in the United States. 

"In 22 years of teaching, I've only had two students asked to participate in this prestigious competition, both from Rustin," said Lisa Bryan, Mox's art teacher at Rustin.

Mox recently received the good news that she won the Challenge Portfolio and Maguire Scholarship, which covers tuition in full based on artistic merit.

The soon-to-be Rustin graduate enrolled at the high school for her senior year after being homeschooled. Her homeschool experience was the source of inspiration for the two pieces she submitted for the Challenge Portfolio.

Her first piece titled "School Bus" was based on American artist Jane Dickson's "Laundromat."

"The piece inspired me by how she (Dickson) used bright yellow and green; how the woman is facing away from the viewer; and how Dickson chose to paint a mundane activity in the normal routine of this woman," said Mox. 

"Since I wanted to paint a self-portrait, I chose to portray a regular activity in my own life that also shared that same vibrant yellow as Dickson’s piece. I also wanted my self-portrait to be different from a straight-on view of my face, so I found the figure’s position very interesting. Taking a bus is a monotonous part of my school day now, but before September, I had never ridden on one or gone to a physical school. It was that simple and overlooked act of stepping up the bus steps on the first day of school this year that brought so many new opportunities and friends my way."

Mox's second Challenge Portfolio submission "Refrigerator Reflection" paid tribute to her childhood.

"The canvas is just a couple inches off of the exact real-life proportions of my refrigerator. I didn't add or subtract any magnets or papers for the piece, just rearranged the existing ones a little. Some of these items are older than I am and some are very recent."

"We all have a collection of magnets that make up our experiences: some we intentionally put on our refrigerators, some are given as gifts to us, some are forced on us, some we made by ourselves, some we made with others. I can't wait to buy my own refrigerator and put my own magnets on it. I might miss the old ones,  I may be happy that they're gone, but either way, I'll have them focalized in this piece so I can remember all of it – the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful."

The Challenge Portfolio indeed proved to be a challenge for Mox who said it was well worth it.

"I couldn't think of good ideas for the assignments until five days before it was due," said Mox. "I painted for more than fifty hours to finish the paintings while still having school a couple of those days!"