Student artist competes for scholarship

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  • Marlee Bender is hoping her painting abilities will earn her a $10,000 scholarship from the Gallery Collection. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

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  • Marlee Bender is hoping her painting abilities will earn her a $10,000 scholarship from the Gallery Collection. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

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One young Whitefish artist has the chance to put her art toward her education.

Marlee Bender, a senior at Whitefish High School, is a finalist in this year’s Gallery Collection Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest. Gallery Collection, a greeting card company, awards a $10,000 scholarship to the winning artist, who is chosen from a top pool of finalists.

The winning artwork will be made into a Christmas card.

Bender’s entry depicts an elk, with birds and flowers and insects flourishing among the animal’s large antlers.

She originally painted the elk for Lonnie Collinsworth’s art class last year as part of a “Tree of life” project.

“In our art class we picked any medium we wanted — I picked oil, that’s what the elk is — and a lot of kids did a regular tree. I had seen the concept done on other animals before, intertwining the mythical with different animals, and I really like animals. So I looked up some concepts, deer and moose and other stuff,” she said.

“It kind of looks Christmas-y.”

Each month visitors to the site can vote on their favorite pieces of art. The top 10 pieces from each month of the year will advance to another round of voting, and the top five entries with the most votes and another five entries selected by the judges will move onto the final round, from which a winner will be selected by the judging team.

In addition to the $10,000 scholarship Bender could receive if she wins, WHS could also get $1,000.

Bender says it would be rewarding to give back to the program that has helped foster her passion.

“My teacher, Mr. Collinsworth, is the greatest art teacher I’ve ever seen. He helps us and actually tells us what to do and what our options are for different things. This definitely came a lot from him,” she said

Bender says right now she’s considering different schools and hoping for a volleyball scholarship for college. Her possible majors aren’t yet set in stone — nursing is the new front-runner, she says — but in any situation, the scholarship would make a big difference.

“That would help me out so much in college. That would definitely cover a couple years of my tuition,” she said with a smile.

To view and vote for Bender’s painting, visit https://www.gallerycollection.com/scholarship-monthly-voting. Voting runs through Nov. 30.

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