Professor’s inspiration enables Cecil College student to realize artistic potential

Published on July 20, 2023

Abigail Graham poses with her painting “Aching for Motivation”

Abigail Graham poses with her award-winning painting “Aching for Motivation.”

NORTH EAST, Md. – The environment in which a child is raised can have a notable impact on their personality, likes, dislikes, and the passions they embrace. Being raised within an artists’ community in rural Pennsylvania left Abigail Graham with a passion and desire which she has embraced and pursued with every fiber of her being.

“My goal is to continue to work as an independent artist and discover where my path leads me,” said Graham, who earned first place at the 2023 Maryland Scholars Summit in the creative works category for her painting “Aching for Motivation.”

Graham grew up in the artistic community of Landenberg, Pennsylvania. She was homeschooled through the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School for the Center for Performing and Fine Arts. Wanting to expand on her artistic passion, she chose to attend Cecil College for its proximity and the distinguished reputation of the College’s Art and Design Program.

“My art professor, Mark Donohue, was a big inspiration and influence on me. Most of my knowledge, motivation, and encouragement came from him, and if it weren’t for him, I most likely wouldn’t be expanding my abilities and stepping out of my comfort zone,” said Graham.

Under Donohue’s encouragement, Graham found the confidence to present her work at the Maryland Scholars’ Summit. She competed, presenting her creative research to talented academic peers from across the state. It was her ability to express the meaning of her painting and the ability to overcome a challenge that captured the judges’ attention.

“Creating this piece about my lack of motivation helped me break that cycle and inspired me to go above and beyond with future pieces that I have worked on and will work on,” she told the judging panel.

“I would never have pushed myself to present my work, and I wouldn’t be making a living from my art right now if it weren’t for the faculty at Cecil College. I’m thrilled and thankful to have had Professor Donohue as a guide in my career,” Graham said in an interview.

The opportunity to use the College’s large studio enabled Graham to work on a much bigger scale than she could have ever done. The space gave her the freedom to work more comfortably compared to working at her home. The added benefit of working in the College’s studio was receiving guidance and encouragement from the art department’s faculty and her peers, which inspired her to want to be a better artist.

“Attending Cecil College prepared me for a four-year college by allowing me to experience college-level learning in a comfortable environment close to home. It’s also preparing me financially by allowing me to spend thousands less in tuition for my first two years of College,” said Graham. “Student debt is something I do not want to struggle with when I graduate.”

Graham is scheduled to complete her Associate of Fine Arts degree in Art and Design – Drawing and Painting in the fall of 2023. With the skills she learned at Cecil College, she hopes to continue to be commissioned for additional work. She is also looking to continue her education, if necessary, which has been made possible by attending a community college.