Montserrat College of Art alumna Kayla Whelan ’16 has won the official White House Historical Association’s Ornament competition. Her design has been selected as the 2016 Herbert Hoover ornament and commemorates the 1929 Christmas Eve four-alarm fire of the West Wing during Hoover’s presidency. Nearly one million units of the ornament will be manufactured and sold by the historical association, and the ornament will grace the First Family’s Christmas Tree in December.
According to Lara Kline of the White House Historical Association, this was the first year the ornament design was opened to student competition to a select group of art colleges nationally. For 36 years the White House Historical Association has commissioned the annual Official White House Christmas Ornament design to honor U.S. presidents in sequential order or commemorate significant White House historical milestones. The sale of every White House ornament supports the Association’s mission to preserve, protect, and provide public access to White House history.
Kayla Whelan is a native of Pelham, NH who graduated from Pelham High School in 2012. She graduated from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Graphic Design. While at Montserrat she interned with Simple Tuition in Boston, an online company which assists college-bound students. She has also worked for the college designing materials for the 2015 commencement.
“I first realized I wanted to be an artist when I was in kindergarten. My teacher was complimenting my stick figures and suggested that I should be an artist when I grew up. The thought had never occurred to me, and the idea that I could draw for a living was the most amazing thing I had ever heard. I had two incredible art teachers in high school who encouraged me to continue when I began to doubt myself, and pushed me to succeed.
I attended Montserrat’s pre-college program and fell in love with the school, applying and getting in a few months later. My junior year, I took a class called Design Factory with Design Department Chair John Colan. It was a small class that worked on projects for real clients. One was the ornament design contest for the WHHA. I put a lot of effort into the project and Professor Colan pushed me to participate and was infinitely helpful to me. I was thrilled to learn I had won this prestigious competition and can’t wait to see the ornament created!”
Montserrat College of Art President Steve Immerman said, “The Montserrat community is ecstatic that another student has won such prestigious national recognition. We are so proud of Kayla Whelan for the hard work she has done to reach this level of professionalism. To create a design that will live in on in our nation’s history for centuries to come not only launches Kayla’s professional career, but is further evidence of how Montserrat College of Art prepares students for careers in the creative industries. Kayla joins other Montserrat students who have won prestigious awards from the National Society of Illustrators, The Copley Society and many others. Montserrat is a small art college that makes a big impact.”
Montserrat College of Art is a small, private, residential, undergraduate college located in historic, coastal Beverly, MA, 30 minutes from downtown Boston. Montserrat’s personalized education is focused on developing each student’s individual creative vision, while they acquire expertise in the tools to express it. Students build strong critical thinking, communication, critique, and creative problem-solving skills – all core leadership competencies. Employing design thinking, this process prepares students for success in the booming creative economy of today and the jobs of the future.
With a student population of 400, Montserrat maintains a low faculty-student ratio that is ideal for the mentoring style and experiential focus that is the hallmark of the Montserrat education. The college offers a variety of concentrations in the fine and applied arts are offered, with minors in art history and creative writing. All students complete a required internship and a thesis project/exhibition evaluated by experts in the field.
Montserrat College of Art is Where Creativity Works.
Above Photos of Montserrat College of Art senior Kayla Whelan and President Steve Immerman by Mel Powsner ’17 and Photo of Kayla with Ornament by Dino Rowan ’16