Bluffton High senior awarded SOBA scholarship

Naomi McCracken Scholarship goes to Venezuelan-born student

Multimedia artist Nathalia Roca poses with some of her artwork. Photo courtesy of SOBA.

Bluffton High School Senior Nathalia Roca received The Society of Bluffton Artists’ (SOBA) Naomi McCracken Scholarship for students pursuing art in higher education.

Roca, who graduates this month, was accepted to all four of her top college choices. She ultimately settled on attending Columbia College in Chicago as a fine arts major, because of the school’s focus on technology and business courses for artist entrepreneurs.

Roca was chosen for the Naomi McCracken Scholarship with the help and collaboration of Andrea Pejeau, fine arts department chair at Bluffton High School. The scholarship applicants must write a personal statement on why they feel they deserve the scholarship and are then interviewed by the SoBA scholarship committee.

“Art is my calling, my constant companion, and most importantly, my dominant form of communication,” Roca wrote in her artist’s statement.

Roca was born in Venezuela and credits communicating freely in both English and Spanish for enabling her to express her point of view through art. As an artist, Roca says that she does not limit herself to a single medium. She has experience with acrylic, oil, watercolor, pen and ink, pastel, oil pastel, charcoal and scratchboard.

“Drawing and painting are my freedom of expression, where no one but me dictates what I do or say,” says Roca.

In their letters of recommendation, Pejeau and Kristen Munroe, a Bluffton High School painting, ceramics and design instructor, describe Roca as a hard-working dedicated student who has already exhibited and sold her work. Roca’s artwork was chosen for a 2018 SOBA exhibit called “Artists In the Making,” where two of her pieces were sold. She has repeatedly won top honors in such youth art events as Promising Picassos and the Scholastic Art Contest.

“In all her work, Nathalia shows patience and dedication to meeting the standards she has in mind,” Munroe wrote in her letter of recommendation, adding, “Not only did she have exceptional skills in observation, rendering, value and color; she constant asked for and excelled in more challenging assignments, absorbing every technique and process eagerly, and dedicating hours outside the classroom to practice and investigation.”

Pejeau wrote: “Nathalia has the experience of a much older artist. She conceptualizes and executes original work in a wide range of media which she approaches with authority. This young artist is just that. An artist. The rare breed born to create outstanding, already award-winning art with an authentic voice. Never cliche, always interesting.

The Naomi McCracken Scholarship

Naomi McCracken was one of the founding members of SOBA. When Naomi passed away in 2006 her family requested that in lieu of flowers donations should be made to SoBA. In the spring of 2007, her son, Emmitt McCracken, and Dave Dickson, then president of SoBA, established the scholarship program for a graduating senior who planned to further their studies in the field of art.

About the Society of Bluffton Artists

SOBA is the heart of the flourishing art hub in Old Town Bluffton’s historic district at the corner of Church and Calhoun streets. As a non-profit art organization, SOBA offers regular art classes, featured artist shows, exhibitions, scholarships, outreach programs and more. The gallery is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sundays. Please visit for a complete calendar of events and other information or call 843.757.6586.