A Penn State crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the Taylor Watkins Ceramics Award, titled Taylor-Made: Molding Future Ceramics Students, will kick off the last week in September. This award, dedicated in honor and memory of Penn State School of Visual Arts alumnus Taylor Watkins, will provide financial support to undergraduate students enrolled in the College of Arts and Architecture who have demonstrated outstanding talent in ceramics. Follow SoVA on Facebook as the campaign launches and for regular updates: www.facebook.com/psuschoolofvisualarts.
Taylor Watkins, who passed away in 2013, was a passionate young man and never too busy to lend a helping hand to someone in need. He was kind and friendly, and he had an immense impact on those who knew him.
As a student, Taylor was unsure of what his future would hold until he found the art of ceramics. Not only did ceramics bring him personal joy while he created, but that joy extended beyond him as he shared his handcrafted pieces with others. Taylor’s aspiration was to become a teacher so that his love for the craft could be passed on forever.
In 2013, though, Taylor lost his second battle with cancer and was not able to see his dream come to fruition. Taylor would want everyone else who has a passion for the arts to pursue his or her dream. So, in his honor and memory, Chris Staley, a close friend and faculty member, decided he wanted to commemorate Taylor through an endowment in the College of Arts and Architecture. The beneficiaries of these funds will be students who are trying to follow in the footsteps of Taylor’s academic pursuits, and the funds will help offset the costs of their education.
Staley had the opportunity to spend time with Taylor a week before he passed away, and this is his account of that time:
"I wanted (Taylor) to know that he made a positive impact on everyone he interacted with, and so I told Taylor that I wanted to create an award in his name to be given to a deserving undergraduate ceramic student at Penn State each year. I will never forget the smile of gratitude on Taylor's face."
--Chris Staley, Distinguished Professor of Art
Higher education is something that many aspire to, but often the price can make it unreachable. This endowment will, in some small way, make that dream more attainable.