Originally Published: February 27, 2017 6 a.m.
To Yavapai College’s art students, the newly established Cowen Prize is a gift — a $500 award bestowed on a deserving student-artist for each of the next five years.
But for Prescott resident Cathy Cowen, the namesake award is a “thank you” to an institution that has welcomed her and her family to Prescott, inspiring and enriching their lives along the way.
Cathy’s son, Thatcher, and his wife, Meg, began the Cowen migration back in 2000.
“We moved to Prescott in large part because communities with a strong college presence have cultural vibrancy,” Thatcher said, “and that belief has borne itself out here.”
Both have thrived here. Thatcher has spent more than 16 years at Yavapai College, providing administrative, educational and technical support for its online learning program. A painter and artist, Thatcher also takes classes in the Art Department. Meg, a music therapist, now works as a teacher, entertainer, and therapist in the quad-city area.
Cathy joined them in Prescott a year later. She was newly retired and looking to direct her life toward more artistic pursuits, so she enrolled in a ceramics class at the community college.
“I owe a lot to YC,” she said. “For 15 years I benefited from the art program. The instructors are top-notch and take a genuine interest in their students. I couldn’t have been happier. I learned a lot about art and made a lot of it — so much that I joke that if I bring home one more heavy ceramic sculpture, my house may cave into the basement.”
Together, the Cowens have prospered in an environment rich with family, art and higher learning. Thatcher and Meg’s sons, Cosimo and True, are two-thirds of a local band — The Faultlines — and they’re also connected to YC, as they both pursue degrees in the arts.
Yavapai College Visual Arts Program Director Laura Bloomenstein said that the Cowen Prize will be awarded each year to a selected student from the college’s annual juried student exhibition.
“It’s not a scholarship,” she clarified. “The Cowen Prize is an award with no strings attached.”
Paul Kirchgraber, interim executive director the Yavapai College Foundation, said the award will inspire future artists.
“Today’s donors want to see the impact that their philanthropy will make,” Kirchgraber said. “The Cowen Prize does just that. It will immediately benefit an aspiring YC art student and ultimately encourage others to pursue their artistic dreams.”
For Cathy, the gift is about both future and the past.
“I was thrilled the first time my art was juried into the Emerging Artist Show at YC, and I was honored when I won some recognition,” she said. “I hope the Cowen Prize will add some excitement and encourage more students to enter the show.”
To learn more about the visual arts and other programs at Yavapai College, visit yc.edu or call the college’s Answer Center at 928-445-7300.