Spring 2022 — From a young age, Marta Nuñez has been intrigued by art, but it took a conversation with a friend to solidify her path toward a career in this field. Nuñez was attending Linn-Benton Community College and studying business when her friend, who was tutoring her in an accounting class, questioned her direction and encouraged her to consider another path.
“She was definitely right,” says Nuñez, noting her friend was regularly acting in service of others and thought art would be a better fit for her passions. “She would always encourage other people to study fields that they’d like to do. I also knew that I did not belong in the business world.”
Nuñez worked with an advisor to extend her financial aid, so she could begin art classes at LBCC, and she transferred to Oregon State University as an art major in winter 2020. Last academic year, OSU’s Disability Access Services awarded Nuñez the Rice Scholarship, which funds one year of tuition and student fees. Having the scholarship cover most of her academic costs enabled Nuñez to buy art materials and a new laptop in pursuit of her professional development.
The artwork "La Morena Catrina" (2022) is a mixed media on canvas piece by Marta Nuñez, the 2020-2021 DAS Rice Scholarship recipient.
To be considered for the scholarship, a student must be pursuing their first undergraduate degree and utilize a wheelchair on a continual basis. The deadline to apply for the DAS Rice Scholarship is May 5 each year.
While last academic year was challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nuñez is grateful for the opportunities that the scholarship presented and for the growth she experienced during this time — when she learned how to improve her skills independently. “It was really difficult to master, but I feel like the process was a good thing because I have improved a lot within myself and in my confidence as an artist,” says Nuñez, who focuses on oil paints, acrylic paints and mixed media in her art.
Nuñez decided to earn a minor in psychology early in her OSU career due to an interest in art therapy. She was first exposed to the profession when in the hospital after a car accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. Art therapy helped her process what she was thinking and feeling. These experiences led her to consider a career as an art therapist, which she hopes will be a way to assist other people as they work through their own struggles and frustrations.
She is particularly drawn to working with people in the Latine community, recognizing that Oregon is a predominantly white state, with not enough Latines working in the health care sector. “Representation — it matters. If I see somebody who’s in my community, they will understand some of my culture and struggles,” Nuñez said.
Although Nuñez feels certain about her direction — she plans to study art therapy in graduate school at Loyola Marymount University — in the end she doesn’t regret those business school classes at LBCC. Those classes, which earned her an associate degree in business administration, will serve as a foundation for her future as an art therapist. “I know a lot of artists wish they had a background in business,” says Nuñez.