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Danikah Photography's Ambitious Artist Award Recipient

You may remember back in October of 2018 I announced that I would be sponsoring a scholarship for the 2019-2020 school year. I was only a couple of months into my first year of school but I already knew that I had found my home. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my education opportunity and thankful to have family and friends who supported my dreams.

Art has always been looked at as something nonessential, unreliable, and unachievable. I created the scholarship in hopes to encourage young artists to take a leap of faith and go after what they love to do. After all, I had just taken the leap myself and couldn't be happier or more sure of my decision.

I was a little heartbroken and embarrassed when the deadline rolled around and I didn't have any applicants. I've held onto the money not knowing what exactly I would do with it but having hope it would still find its way into the right person's hands. On June 5th, 2020, that person showed up to my front door with an envelope in her hands.

Congratulations Atifina Mathieu! I cannot think of a more deserving person for this award. Atifina Mathieu will be attending the New York Institute of Technology this fall for Interior Design.

I don't know if I have the right words to describe how fitting this award is for her. Atifina gave me her permission to share her responses to the application prompts, so I will let her do the talking.

Tell me about your passion:

I have always seen the best potential in people and in spaces and objects. Just because something is flawed does not mean it is meaningless. I love art and everything about it. Not just drawing but painting, pottery, and photography and how the simplicity of something can be so gorgeously set or how everything can fit together perfectly. Interior Design brings all of that art together; matching the colors on the walls to the furniture, choosing how to decorate using photography or paintings, and sketching to map out design spaces before they are physically made. Even as a young child, I would walk into a room and instantly start to see how I could improve it; colors, furniture, decorations, and even layout. I love that with my career I can turn a space into something that can be great, something somebody will love and I hope to do that on the environmental side of it too, finding alternate ways to produce materials or even the materials the objects are made of.

Explain a set back you have faced and how you overcame it:

In 2016, my father passed away after a long fight with cancer. I was a new freshman to the high school and I did not know how to cope with the loss of such an important person that seemed to have been so suddenly taken away. I fell into a depression that drew me away from everything that I cared about; school, community service, basketball, and even my art. Although I gradually started getting back to those things, my internal struggle to do art remained. I could no longer see the room light up with potential as I once did and everything else seemed almost pointless. My father always believed and told me that art was not a career, it was a hobby and that it could never be anything else. I think that is why I struggle with doing it so much. I strove to do everything he wanted me to do and be after his passing to make him proud; to try and get him to still see me. But once I did return to it, art mended me. It brought back life in everything including me; it gave me my vision back. That is when I knew I could not give up on my dream because I believe that doing something you love beats everything else. Even though this is not what he wanted for me, I think he will be just as proud of me when he sees how I influence the world and made other people happy.

What will you use this award for and how will it help you succeed in your program?

I would use this award to help me pay for the art supplies needed for my first year. As a freshman, I do have some standard textbooks to buy, but on top of that, I have art supplies to purchase. Unfortunately, unlike some of the other schools I was accepted to, NYIT does not provide a lot of their art materials or give extra money to students to buy them so it has to come out of my pocket. There are stores all over the city in which I could buy them, and some even at discounted student price, but all of those brushes and canvases, pens, and markers add up in the end. As this is an art award, I can only see fit that I use it to purchase the material needed to make art! Interior Design is my passion and it is my dream, to be successful in earning my degree and someday opening my own business. This award brings me one step closer to my dream and to helping me excel in my program.

Moving to New York, attending FIT, and studying photography has been a dream come true and one of the biggest blessings in my life. To be able to play a small part in Atifina's dreams coming true is the greatest gift I could ever receive. I am filled with so much pride. Thank you so much Atifina for giving this to me. You are an inspiration. I am so proud of you and honored to support you. I cannot wait to see you on the streets of New York and work with you in the future. You are an incredible young woman and artist. Never stop chasing your dreams!


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