Art is something first-year Tasha Determan has loved since she was in high school, and has already allowed her to showcase her creativity.
Now pursuing an art degree with an emphasis in sculpture, Determan is a recipient of the Taco Bell Live Más Scholarship.
The Live Más Scholarship awarded 220 students in 2016. Determan applied in May 2016 and received $2,500 for her scholarship the summer before coming to USD.
The scholarship required applicants to fill out a form and submit a two-minute video about themselves that explains why they deserve the award.
“What I really just wanted was someone to say, ‘Yeah, you can do it. I support what you’re doing and that your art is beautiful and I’m giving you this money to use it to get your education and become an artist.’ That they believe in me,” she said.
Through the scholarship foundation, Determan was given the opportunity to design a basketball trophy for the Taco Bell Skills Challenge for the NBA all-star weekend. She flew to New Orleans on Feb. 16 and attended the game to distribute the trophy that Saturday.
The trophy was inspired by New Orleans buildings, Determan said.
“I found that New Orleans has a lot of columns in their architecture,” she said. “With that, I kind of just took one of the columns that they had within there and I used that to hold the basketball on top. On the column itself, I had some ironwork, because that’s also in their architecture, especially in the French quarter… it was awe-inspiring.”
Michael Hook, an associate professor of art, has had Determan in two classes this year. He said Determan’s chance to design the trophy was “not surprising.”
“I just saw how excited she was (about going to New Orleans),” he said. “She’s pretty even keel — I’ve never seen her that bubbly so I knew it was really important to her.”
Determan said she’s been doing art “somewhat seriously” since she was in high school and decided then to have an emphasis on sculpture.
“It opens up where you can use any material you want. That’s what I really love about sculpture — I suppose I think three-dimensionally,” she said.
Determan enjoys exploring other art forms as well, she said.
“Even with sculpture, I work with a lot of media. I like to try new materials with my sculptures,” she said. “I’m decent with watercolor painting. I like to say I’m talented at drawing, as well.”
Determan also had two pieces in the Stilwell Exhibition, where her watercolor piece “Vibrant Arrogance” won the Gladys Ferree Stilwell award.
Art is a “self-exploration” to Determan, even though it does come with challenges.
“It’s figuring stuff out — trying to represent ideas and make the rest of the population understand what you’re producing,” she said. “(It’s difficult) working through the idea and then once you actually start making it, to actually finishing it within a timely manner.”
Hook said Determan is “really on top of her art” for a first-year.
“She’s outstanding,” Hook said. “She performs very well, she divides up her time really well, but still remains thorough. When she has something due, it’s given her full attention — she doesn’t do something halfway. She doesn’t give herself the kind of (good) credit sometimes. Her expectations are higher than what I’m going to assign to her.”
Determan said USD’s art program is “wonderful” because of it’s professors.
“They keep providing you with opportunities,” she said. “They just really want you to do well and get out there. That really helps, overall, to have someone that will support you.”
Though he’s only had her in two classes, Hook said he’s confident about Determan’s future in the field.
“I think she’s like all students should be, curious and she knows how to access research in order to follow through on ideas,” Hook said. “She came in with a really strong foundation to begin with. I haven’t seen her really do anything ‘kinda-sorta.’ When she decides she’s doing something, she’s doing it to the best of her ability.”
Determan said she plans on obtaining her MFA after her undergraduate degree and then hopes to freelance and possibly become an art professor.
She said she wants to become more knowledgable and purposeful about what she creates.
“I hope to learn more techniques and how to use different materials properly with my art,” she said. “I want to finalize conceptually how to think about art and how to go and process my own ideas.”
Determan said the scholarship opened many doors for her.
“It just verifies that what I’m doing is right for me,” she said. “It also opens up more areas of interest as well.”