Fairfield senior named
Presidential Scholar of the Arts
James Rada, Jr.
Emmitsburg News Journal
(6/1) Peter Ferguson of Fairfield, a senior at Delone Catholic High School, uses his garage and basement to paint his works of art, but at the end of June, Ferguson and his art will be on display when he receives the 2009 Presidential Scholar of the Arts Award in Washington, D.C.
Peter Ferguson (center) with Joseph Todorovitch (L) and Casey Baugh at the Portrait Society of America’s Art of the Portrait annual conference in Washington, D.C. Todorovitch and Baugh, both winners in this years exhibition, are two of today’s young leading representational artist.
"Peter has a great gift. He has a natural ability to draw what he sees. But, he also likes to experiment, and that, in my opinion, is what continues to take Peter to the next level," said Raymond Buchheister of Fairfield, who is Ferguson's mentor.
On May 4, the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced 20 high school seniors as the 2009 Presidential Scholars of the Arts. Among the group is Fairfield resident Peter Ferguson. He and the other scholars will be honored in Washington D.C. on June 20-24 where they may meet President Obama. Ferguson's art work will
also be exhibited at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
"Recieving the Presidential Scholar in the Arts award was confusing and odd," Ferguson said. "I didn't and still don't really understand or comprehend the magnitude of it all. The benefits from it like showing at the Smithsonian and possibly meeting the first African American President of the United States among other
things are beyond a level of astonishment for me. I feel like I won't be able to process how i feel about it until a long while after it has all happened."
There are 141 Presidential Scholars that include a male and female senior from each state, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and U.S. families living abroad. The number also includes 15 members at large and the 20 Presidential Scholars of the Arts.
A 29-member Presidential commission selects the scholars based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. The program was created in 1964 for academic achievement and expanded in
1979 to include students who displayed their talents in the arts.
"I think Peter has the ability to make a mark in the visual arts that will garnish him a place in the history books as one of America's great painters. He has a long way to go, but he's young and is already making inroads with some of today's masters," Buchheister said.
Peter Ferguson (L) and Raymond Buchheister paint together at Buchheister’s studio
in Fairfield. Buchheister mentor’s Ferguson in the fundamentals of oil painting.
Since 1983, each Presidential Scholar has invited his or her most inspiring and challenging teacher to travel to Washington, D.C., to receive a Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education and to participate in the recognition events. Ferguson chose Buchheister, his mentor, to accompany him.
Though Ferguson has been drawing since he could pick up a pencil, he started working with Buchheister as a sophomore to learn painting and credits Buchheister with his desire to succeed.
"Receiving a teacher recognition award from the U.S. Department of Education is an honor, but what has been most gratifying, is to see the light in Peter's eyes when he realized that his talent to draw and paint can become something more than what he just loves to do, that being an artist can actually become his profession
and earn him a living. He is well on his way," Buchheister said.
Ferguson has already started selling his paintings through contacts he made with gallery owners through the youngARTS program.
"Apart from the dream of making enough money from art to feed myself and my family, I want my art to make people see and think what they have never thought of before," Ferguson said. "In my opinion, it is an artist's job is not to create something beautiful, it is to reveal a unseen truth about human kind. Then fast forward
far into the future, I want to be a teacher so I can inspire young minds like Ray has inspired me."
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