MacArthur senior Jessica Muoneke is making Irving ISD history by being the first student to qualify for the Texas Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) state competition all four years in high school. 

“We were really, really excited. There have been several students to go three years in a row, but qualifying all four is a rarity,” says MacArthur art teacher Marci Lee.

“Lapis Lazuli” by Jessica Muoneke | 2020 VASE

Seeing Muoneke advance to state all four years, Lee has watched Muoneke’s artistic skills and voice grow significantly since her freshman year.

“Her overall honing of the craft has expanded really well,” says Lee. “She’s been able to evolve in her medium choices, and several of [her pieces] deal with interesting subject matters. Her concepts have always been highly intelligent and maturely composed.” 

Out of her five pieces that have advanced to state, Muoneke’s favorite is her latest portrait, which she titled “Unpredictable.” An animation series, “Unpredictable” is a deeply personal work depicting the waves of emotion Muoneke herself felt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unpredictable” by Jessica Muoneke | 2021 VASE

“I didn’t want it to have a straightforward message but for the audience to have to think about it. The slot machine represented accurately how I was feeling,” says Muoneke. “With a slot machine, you don’t know what you’re going to get; it’s very unpredictable, just how my mood was changing so much.”

Not only does “Unpredictable” reflect her personal and emotional growth over the past year, it also reveals Muoneke’s natural talent as an artist. While her go-to medium is graphite, Muoneke took it upon herself to teach herself animation design last summer.

“I was surprised I went to state with my digital piece because I’ve only been doing digital for not even a year,” says Muoneke. 

Muoneke and four other Irving ISD students will participate in the virtual VASE state event at the end of April, where their pieces will be judged for the opportunity to earn a gold seal, the top honor for VASE.

After graduation, Muoneke plans to attend college, where she will major in biology and minor in studio art. She hopes to go on to medical school and one day be an anesthesiologist.

2021 VASE State Qualifiers

  • Beyda Espinoza, MacArthur HS, 11
  • Journey Harris, MacArthur HS, 12
  • Jessica Muoneke, MacArthur HS, 12
  • Sasha Sumabon, MacArthur HS, 9
  • Adria Torres, MacArthur HS, 9