Holly Nowak: Living Art Like a Lifestyle

Skutt Catholic student uses creativity to combine achievement and self-discovery

Photo by Holly Nowak
Senior art student Holly Nowak recently received a scholarship to the Kansas City Art Institute.

Lily Yates, Quintessence Copy Editor

With talk of application deadlines and acceptance letters swirling through hallways, life at high schools across the country are stressful right now. But amidst all that, Skutt Catholic senior art student Holly Nowak recently opened an envelope containing the fulfillment of a dream.

After four years in the school’s art program, Nowak has learned to appreciate creating art as more than just a means of self-expression. In art, rather, she sees a way to improve coping skills and change her perspective on her own life as well. This week, Nowak sat down with the Flightline to discuss her experiences with art at Skutt Catholic as well as her recent award from the Kansas City Art Institute.

Tell us a little about your art background before and inside our school.

“When I was little, I started doing this leg-bounce thing every time I sat down and got in trouble at school for not paying attention during class. Drawing was one of the first things I taught myself to keep my brain quiet when we were supposed to be taking notes and the “Seinfeld” theme wouldn’t stop playing on an eternal loop in my head. I made art outside of school as well, but most of my experience comes from the margins of notebooks when I had to get a thought out or just move my hand around and talk to myself.”

Holly Nowak
A snapshot from Nowak’s sketchbook, showing some of her more casual scribbles.

How do you feel about the art education that the Skutt Catholic art program has provided you with?

“I got diagnosed with ADHD when I was 15, and as I began adjusting, the random doodles and songs in my head started to go away. Having an art class during this time forced me to learn how to balance allowing myself times for creativity while combining it with productivity. Aside from all the art techniques I’ve learned, the art program gave me the essential training I need to organize myself and meet deadlines that I know I will need in college and for the rest of my life.”

Can you describe for us some of your favorite pieces to create?

“My favorite type of work to do is when I have an idea and grab the nearest thing to write it down really fast before it goes away forever. I sometimes come up with a bizarre idea that’s really cool. During my most creative times, my sketchbook will be full of things like chicken scratch and flaming shopping carts.”

What made you consider the Kansas City Art Institute as a potential school choice?

“My college search was like throwing a dart at a map. I avoided it as long as possible, and when it finally came time to choose I Googled something like ‘where can I go to art school’ and started clicking links. KCAI actually appealed to me when I saw pictures of the classrooms and art being made there on a mailer they sent. I could tell it would be a place I would actually look forward to visiting every day.”

Holly Nowak
Holly needs no more than a ballpoint pen and some color to create beautiful sketches.

What was your reaction when you found out you’d been accepted- and with an art scholarship as well?

“My mom gave me the envelope. I opened it and went, “Hey, I got into art school,” and my mom was like “Wooooo!” and I was like “Wooooo!” Then I kept reading the letter and saw I got a big scholarship… and we were both like [extra woo!]”

Do you have an idea of what you’d like to study in college or do afterward with your art career?

“I’m lucky to be going to art school because I can study everything I haven’t tried yet and see what I like! My dream career is waking up and wanting to get out of bed to do my job.”

Lily Yates - Quintessence Editor-in-Chief

Lily became a member of The Flightline in August of 2015. She is a senior this year and enjoys an array of activities including choir, theatre and slam poetry. She is also on staff as a library aide at the Omaha Public Library. You can email her at [email protected]