260 Seconds: Martin Mbrughah

2020 National YoungArts Foundation Visual Arts Finalist; Senior, South Side High School; Instagram: @TOSKAGO


FWM: When did you realize you had a talent for painting?
MM: About a year-and-half ago, I was taking a drawing class and when I finished my work, my teacher would give me paints to keep me from goofing off. At first, I didn’t know where to begin. I just figured out things as I went; it was a lot of trial and error.

FWM: You paint under the name Toskago, from the Russian word toska meaning a deep, wordless sadness and a sense of longing. Why did you choose this name?
MM: I was inspired by the power of the word and its range of meaning.

FWM: Who is an artist you admire?
MM: John Singer Sargent is the pinnacle of realism. The abstraction he used to create his images inspires me.

FWM: What was your reaction to be selected a National YoungArts Foundation finalist?
MM: Receiving this honor provided me with some validation – my work was selected out of tens of thousands of entries. I also gained a network of supportive and intelligent creative people. I feel like the idea of community was really drilled in to me and I learned it’s important to working as an artist and growing as a person.

FWM: What’s next for you?
MM: I was recently nominated to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar, because of my status as a YoungArts finalist. This is one of the highest honors a high school senior can receive. Now I need to work on the application and I’ll find out, in May, if I am selected.


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