Leah Seaman ’21 earns $1,000 Winston Scholarship

Leah Seaman talking about her artwork

At Marietta College, students have a variety of opportunities to grow and gain experience academically and artistically.

Leah Seaman ’21 (Philippi, West Virginia) is no exception.

After submitting some of her work to the regional chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters, Seaman was awarded a $1,000 prize for the Winston Scholarship in Two-Dimensional Art, qualifying for the annual national competition.

The NSAL is a not-for-profit organization that provides financial assistance to artists just starting

their careers. The organization has been active for more than 70 years. The local chapter is based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Each chapter selects students to compete at the national level, where scholarships are awarded in various amounts up to $5,000.

Applicants must demonstrate exceptional talent and promise of future success, per their mission.

Seaman, a lifelong artist, was an excellent candidate.

“I’ve been doing commission work as an artist since the eighth grade,” said Seaman, who is majoring in both Communication Studies and Art. “One of my other pieces was recently accepted to the West Virginia State Gallery, which was a huge deal for me. My junior year was definitely the year my artistic career took off.”

To qualify for the NSAL scholarship competition, McCoy Professor of Art Jolene Powell submitted a cohesive body of work based on Seaman’s experience studying abroad in Florence, Italy during the spring of 2019.

“I thought Leah’s body of work she completed during her study abroad in Italy dovetails well with the NSAL mission,” Powell said. “Leah has excellent hand skills and created a series of strong representational landscapes and cityscapes, which I know the organization likes to celebrate.”

Submitted were three of Seaman’s favorite watercolors and two pen drawings. Subjects included different sceneries and her favorite spots in the city, as well as landmarks around her apartment.

“I tried my best to document all of my experiences through artwork,” Seaman said. “Everyone takes photos, but as an artist, I wanted to create a visual journal that I could bring back to my friends and family.

“I used a Bic pen and I drew them in a hyper-realism style,” she said. “I incorporated some street art that I had seen in Florence also. It’s a whimsical, kind of unique piece.”

Seaman took inspiration from the blend of old and new she found in the city.

“In the same building where Michelangelo lived, you find an Apple store. It’s a great combination. That’s kind of what the two pen drawings were,” she said. “These statues were done by the Renaissance masters, but alongside the statues were modern-day Renaissance work, the street artists.”

Seaman said that each pen drawing took her 17 to 18 hours to complete. Powell said that they are looking into other experiences where Seaman can expand her artistic talent.

“Hopefully, after the COVID crisis subsides, she will be able to put the funding to good use at another study abroad opportunity or similar domestic experience,” Powell said. “Prior to the shutdown, we were looking at places to expand her study and skills this summer in New York City and other metropolitan areas with strong art experiences.”

Follow Leah Seaman’s art account on Instagram at @artabella_gallery.