I am Elaina Eberz, and I have lived my entire life in Salem, Oregon, which I believe has shaped my views concerning sustainability and the environment. In fact, my goal by this time next year is to transfer to Oregon State University, where I plan to study sustainable horticulture as well as the visual arts. With my education, I aspire to establish an urban farm in my hometown, providing affordable produce for underprivileged families, and a sensory garden for people that have autism like my brother and I do. With my art degree, I would eventually like to have a small, freelance studio where I can produce artwork for the public. However, my family doesn’t have a lot of money, so instead of going straight to university, I am currently living with at home and attending Chemeketa Community College. I have worked very hard to keep my GPA up and to earn the credentials that are often looked for in a student. This has involved hours of community service, doing jobs of all kinds. In middle school, I worked for the local Saturday Market, sorting trash from the recyclables. In high school, I helped collect money for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, participated in trash cleanup days, and partook in a squash harvest for the local food bank. Even now I’ll take small jobs when my schedule allows it.
In the time between classes, I like to make art, focusing mainly on block prints, miniature paintings, and even small ceramics if I can get access to a kiln. I selected portfolio images I feel best illustrate this. Being on the autism spectrum almost certainly has an influence on my work. I, like many others with ASD, have an affinity for repetition, tactile input, and fine details, all of which are demonstrated in the media I use. Everything about printmaking is inherently repetitive, while the texture and weight of clay make it very appealing to handle. Meanwhile, very fine-tipped paintbrushes allow for the production of minute details, even on the tiniest canvas (personally, I find large canvases a bit daunting).
I believe my art could have societal value for a couple of reasons. First, a small sculpture, small painting, or print that can be duplicated is usually less expensive than a large or one-of-a-kind piece, making it accessible to a wider range of people. Given that we are more concerned than ever about equality, it only makes sense that everyone should be able to have art if they want it, no matter what economic status. Second, autistic artists are often under or misrepresented, and there is still a bias against the disability as a whole. If I can one day prove myself as an educated and skilled professional, I could be a positive representation that helps end that stigma. However, if I’m going to have any chance of successfully becoming the influence orthe horticulturist I aspire to be, I’m going to need all the help I can get, hopefully including this scholarship.