Art Student Finds Early Success
In late April, sophomore Mark Thomas and Lara Yeager-Crasselt, an art history lecturer in the Department of Art, attended an awards dinner sponsored by the Arts Club of Washington. Thomas, who was being honored as first-runner up in a photo competition, dressed for the special occasion. “I wore a tie,” he says with a laugh. “That’s a rare occasion for me.”
For his photo “Down the Road,” Thomas was awarded a $1,000 scholarship. “The money was nice,” he says. “But the coolest part for me was the recognition. It’s really special to have outside experts appreciate your work.”
Yeager-Crasselt sponsored Thomas in the competition that attracted students from D.C.-area schools. “The Arts Club of Washington has a long-established reputation for fostering art and artists in our community. This is a prestigious competition. It’s a wonderful seal of approval for a young photographer,” says Yeager-Crasselt, who was Thomas’ instructor in the course History of Art: From the Renaissance to the Modern Age.
The Arts Club of Washington sponsors the annual Ann Bartsch Dunne scholarship competition for art students at a college or university in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia. Three other students were recognized in the photography competition. Two were from American University and one was from The George Washington University.
Thomas says his winning black-and-white photo of a stretch of road was “taken on impulse, one day while I was out for a drive. I used a wide-angle lens, which is why everything in the photo appears to be stretched out. It just goes to show that things viewed on a normal everyday drive can hold beauty.”
Thomas, who is a newly declared studio art major with a minor in marketing, has already begun to forge his career. He has a freelance photography business, with a steady flow of jobs documenting the D.C. music scene, particularly hip hop music. He is the marketing director for a young Washington, D.C., clothing company, From a Flyer Society. He has also begun to dabble in event planning. He is currently planning a sneaker buy, sell, trade event called Sneak Attack.
His desire to attend college, he says, was not about finding a job. “My goal is to be my own boss, to get paid for doing things I like to do, and to be creative. I’m already achieving that. For me, college is about opening doors, intellectual and skill challenge, and expanding my ideas.”
Thomas, who recently received approval to relaunch the CUA photography club (it has been dormant for many years), likes to find inspiration for his work from fellow artists and from his teachers. “The faculty at CUA is so accessible. They are interested and attentive. That’s made an impact on me.”
Thomas says he is also inspired by the University’s service mission. “I’m a big believer in getting involved in the community that supports you,” says Thomas, who volunteers in the D.C. public schools through D.C. Reads.
Best place to study: “There’s a table in a back corner on the second floor of the Pryz. It’s so quiet there I can knock out my homework. The light goes off a lot because it’s on a motion sensor. It’s a reminder to get up and stretch.”
Favorite classes: Intro to Social Work, Accounting Boot Camp, and Enduring Questions in Catholic Theology
Favorite spots in D.C: “There’s an Ethiopian Restaurant on Ninth Street that I go to a lot and I also like Founding Farmers at Farragut North.”
Preferred mode of transportation: “I bike everywhere. It’s more reliable than public transportation.”