HISD grad receives scholarship for work in MFAH’s #StrongerThanCovid photo series

An alum of the Houston Independent School District was recently presented with a college scholarship from Houston’s prestigious Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.

Mary Onwumere, a 2020 graduate from Lamar High School, received the $500 scholarship for her work in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s #StrongerThanCovid photography series. Mary’s work, along with 18 other HISD students, make up a virtual exhibition curated by the MFAH and can be viewed here.

“I am so happy to have received this,” she said. “It is the first time that I have been recognized for my work.” 

Onwumere’s winning photo series, titled “Coping with COVID,” followed her journey through the last few months of her senior year, which was disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was important, she said, that through her photographs, she not only her COVID-19 story but the stories of others whose journeys had been sidelined by the coronavirus.

“In a sense, my series is told from the perspective of someone that’s lost a loved one,” she said. “I lost the last few months of high school and I felt like I was going through the stages of grief.”

Onwumere, who recently started her freshman year at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., used the scholarship funds for her first semester textbooks. While attending Carleton, she plans on majoring in Biology with a minor in photography, with the goal of completing and publishing a photography book by the end of her college career.

“This experience has really motivated me to dive deeper into photography,” she said. “I want to tell a story with my photos because for a lot of people it was just as moving for them to see it as it was for me to create it.”