Whoever coined the phrase “making something out of nothing,” must have known how University of Houston alumni, and Fulbright Fellow, Donna Huanca would use her talents. Donna is a professional artist who takes what some might call trash and turns it into treasure by creatively transforming old clothing, shoes, and fabrics into wearable art. Through a Research/Study grant sponsored by Fulbright, the Chicago native was given the opportunity to research the Mexican Muralists Movement and indigenous textiles to create contemporary artwork in Mexico City for (?) months. Donna graduated from the University of Houston School of Art in 2004 with a BA in painting. With numerous academic accolades and a feature of her work in British Vogue, it is no surprise that Donna Huanca was chosen to receive the Fulbright Fellowship. Her future career plans include teaching and collaborating with fashion designers to create unique wearable art, while maintaining an ethical sustainable practice.
Receiving the Fulbright:
Where were you during the time of you application preparation phase?
What will the Fulbright grant enable you to do that you otherwise would not have an opportunity to pursue?
To live and develop my work in a Latin American context, which I have never had the opportunity to actually do, is critical at the stage of my emergence.
The Application Process:
What is your general feedback about the applying through the University and receiving guidance from your Fulbright Program Adviser and the UH Fulbright Campus Review Committee?
Dr. Tran (program adviser) was extremely helpful and considerate while guiding me through the very intensive application process. She was always available during the process and continued to be extremely supportive. I found the comments that the UH Fulbright Campus Committee gave me helpful during the drafting of my proposal, for they me pushed me to consider and elaborate on different aspects of the project which made my proposal easier to digest to a larger audience other than artists.
In what ways did the campus advising and review process help you to improve your application?
Each stage of the application writing process was supported and developed from the above mentioned activities. Planning the application: considering Essay revisions, Campus Interview (via skype), Interview and feedback in Spanish from Hispanic studies professor (Dr. Solino)
For applicants living abroad, what types of challenges could they face during the application and/or review process?
I would advise any applicant to utilize such resources as Skype, email, and telephone communications over the Internet, to make the application experience smooth and successful when contacting people across the globe.
What advice would you give to alumni who are thinking about applying as an at-large candidate versus through their alma mater?
I would absolutely advise any alumni to apply through their alma mater because of the personalized support and advice that can only be found through your alma mater who have had experience seeing successful applications develop.
Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share?
I am so grateful for the many hours of support I received from my adviser Dr Tran during this extensive application process. When I first thought of applying of course I wanted to do it AT Large to have an extended deadline. Today, I know I would have not been able to do it without the support of my Alma Mater.