Young artist excels

Published 9:23 am Saturday, March 21, 2009

FRANKLIN—She is only 18, but she has been a part of the art world almost all her life. Indeed, her resume could compare to professionals twice her age.

This is most likely the reason Rebecca Mosena, artist, sculptor, filmmaker and painter, to name a few of her talents, was accepted at the prestigious Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City’s East Village. Only 65 students are accepted in the art department there annually worldwide.

“I’m really excited,” the Southampton High School senior, who also attends the Governor’s School for the Arts, revealed. “This is one of the best schools in the world, and what makes it even better is that my tuition is free.”

Mosena, just recently accepted, said all students of the school receive a full tuition-free scholarship. However, food, transportation and housing are the responsibility of the student.

“I’m still working on additional scholarships for this,” she added.

The multitalented artist, who is the daughter of Richard and Dawn Mosena, should have no trouble reaching her goals. Already she has won numerous awards for her work. The most recent ones include a special merit award from the Neptune Festival, student show in Virginia Beach and a 3D Blackwater Artist’s League Award, in Courtland in 2006. In 2007, she again took a special merit award (the third highest award) at the Neptune Festival student division and honorable mention from the Governor’s School Juried Exhibition at Norfolk State University.

Mosena’s awards in 2008 include a 3D award (Governor’s School Division) at Rawls Museum Arts in Courtland and Best in Show again at the Neptune Festival. She was one of 60 finalists at the Student Gallery Juried exhibition at the Chrysler Museum of Arts.

She said she entered several samples of her work in each show, from paintings to sculpture, as well as installation and filmmaking.

“We were judged on our exhibitions as a whole,” she added.

The Franklin native, who has been attending Governor’s School since ninth grade, has been entering into competition the things she has made at GSA for the past three years.

But this is not something new for Mosena, who says she has been able to draw all her life.

“In fact, my mom has some of my earlier drawings. Actually, Mom has saved virtually every piece of artwork I’ve ever made.”

Her mother, realizing her aptitude for art, entered Mosena in art classes at Rawls Museum Arts when she was about 6. While attending there, she also was entered in her school’s gifted program.

During the years, she has won awards for her work in virtually every exhibit she has entered, including the Southampton County Fair and Reflections Contest.

She now attends morning classes at Southampton High School, from which she will graduate on June 13, and travels to Norfolk to attend GSA in the afternoon. She will graduate there on June 5.

“We take well-rounded courses at GSA,” she said, as she explains her varied schedule. “I do a lot of figure drawing — we have human models come in every Friday afternoon.”

Mosena says she also sculpts, “predominately deformed animal forms out of wax and wire” and mounts them in taxidermy format.

Her main form of work, however, is mixed media. “My mixed-media pieces are basically paintings done on mounted masonite. I use not only paints, but objects or materials, like paper, corkboard, metallic leaf, and antique pins.

“My paintings are compositional, they create themselves in the sense that there is no premeditation before starting a piece. I create them from instinct and preference.”

Mosena has made three films while at the school. One named “Palaav” was shown at the Norva Theater in Ghent along with those of several of her peers.

Screen printing is another of her talents. “This process involves the passing of ink or other printing medium through a mesh or screen that has been stretched on a frame and to which a stencil has been applied or “burned.”

“I screen print historical icons with patterns on paper, metal, bags and T-shirts.”

In installations, another form of her art, Mosena works in an independent class in which she creates a curriculum for herself, which an administrator signs off on and monitors to observe her progress and the outcome. She says she constructs an installation and films her own process and experiments.

“My latest,” she said, “is named ‘Not External, Simply Thermal.’ After handcrafting a fireplace, I mounted a hollow wax moose head above it and placed an inflatable moose head inside the waxed one. By the heat from the fire, the wax moose head slowly melts, revealing the inflatable one inside. The correct amount of pressure on the mantle, built on an axle, tips the mantle forward which activates a switch attached to a pneumatic pump, which inflates the moose head balloon.

“This installation reflects a number of concepts, mainly intentional rebirth and endings through activations.”

As she gets closer to graduation, the young artist says one of the most exciting events required is the “senior show,” where each senior plans and holds an exhibition of her work.

“Mine will be held on May 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Black Box Theatre at 254 Granby Street in Norfolk. I will exhibit all of my recent drawings, mixed media paintings, screen prints and several of my films.

“I may even sell some of my work,” she said with a smile.

Mosena’s show is entitled “And Within These, We are Associated,” and is free and open to the public. She exclaimed, “Everyone is welcome.”

The active teenager lives and breathes art, she revealed, and does not turn down an opportunity to further her cause. This is the reason she recently spent a month during the summer at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she took a course in architecture in the arts. For this, she earned four college credits.

“I am extremely grateful that I was accepted at Cooper Union, however,” she went on. “It is one of the nation’s oldest and most distinguished institutions. Before they were elected, presidents Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, Taft and Theodore Roosevelt spoke in the celebrated auditorium

“It also is the institution where Thomas Edison attended school, and where the Red Cross and the NAACP were organized.”

Mosena added, “It was established in 1859 by Peter Cooper, who had less than a year of formal education, yet went on to design the first railroad steam engine.”

Students are accepted there solely on the basis of merit, she said, because Cooper felt that education should be “as free as air and water.”

“It has been a godsend for many struggling artists,” Mosena declared.